I don’t know why, but film-noir is my favorite type of film. It’s not that I don’t enjoy well done films of most other genres, it’s just that even a mediocre film of the film-noir genre gets high points with me. That being said, ‘The Third Man’ (TTM) is a gem of a thriller. Smart, well-written, and development that is “slowly-simmered”, TTM is a classic masterpiece that deserves repeated viewings. Plus, since it is a Criterion Collection release, the restoration and quality of the transfer to DVD is impeccable. Also lots of cool extras on the disc. Click to put this one on your rental queue and move it way up in priority, you won’t be sorry.
Few films capture time and place so vividly as Carol Reed’s “The Third Man”. An absolute brilliant blend of dialogue, acting and direction without a wasted frame or word throughout the entire film. Reed hits all the right notes, zither included, in capturing post-war Vienna. Classic first shot of Orson Wells is one of many examples why cinematographer Robert Krasker won an Oscar. Finally, and most beguiling of all, is the emerging love story between Joseph Cotten and Alida Valli. Truly one of the most fascinating movies ever made. See it more than once.
Orsen Welles wrote his coo coo clock speech for the Ferris wheel scene. That’s the one everyone remembers, but in truth Graham Greene, a wry British post-modern wrote the screenplay. He had Kim Colby, Stalin’s, suave foreign office spy in mind. Carol Reed directed a very Citizen Kane like film in the ruins of 1946 Austria. Everyone will recognize the unusual film angles, scene cuts, and black and white shadows as Orwellian. However, I’m taking nothing away from Reed. This film is as good a European Film Noir as you’ll find. The film glides effortlessly till the ending in the sewers under Vienna. Cotton plays the naive American that arrives in Vienna to take up a job with a flamboyant, immoral, schoolboy friend, Harry Lime (Welles). However, Harry Lime in reality is running a black market scheme in stolen penicillin, which results in the death of hundreds of innocents. Cotton arrives in Vienna to find Harry has been killed in a suspicious car crash. Cotton then runs into Trevor Howard, a British Military, Lime’s girlfriend, actress Alida Valli, and assorted suspicious characters. Nothing is what it seems and Cotton is soon involved in international intrigue. A mandolin plays in the background and it’s very unsettling. Films about the gray area between good and evil and the unintentional foolishness of do-gooders are not easy to complete without created cardboard characters, but there’s no need to fear for The Third Man is damn near perfect, one of the best films ever made.