104 Min. | Film-Noir – Mystery – Thriller | August 1949
IMDB Rating: 8.3
Director: Carol Reed
Starring: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli
The Third Man Review
The Third Man is a movie that looks and feels not like a movie of the 40s, but like a neo-noir of the late 60s/early 70s. This wonderful example of classic noir is one of the all time greatest films. The Third Man combines amazing visuals, sounds, dialogue, and acting to tell a thrilling story and comment about the atmosphere after WWII. Of all the movies durring the studio era (pre-1960ish), there are three movies with cinematography that always stick out in my mind, Gregg Toland’s work in Citizen Kane, Russel Mety’s work in Touch of Evil, and Robert Krasker’s work in The Third Man.
Just recently saw a restored 35mm version of The Third Man. The crisp black and white visuals of a bombed out Vienna are so breath-taking. Shadows are everywhere. The unique way Krasker tilts the camera in some shots adding to the disorientation of the plot. And who can forget the first close-up of Welles with the light from an apartment room above splashing onto his face, one of the great entrances in movie history (Lime gives his old friend a smile that only Welles could give). In The Third Man, the cinematography is backed by strong performances by Welles, Cotten, and italian actress Vali.
The writing of Greene is wonderful, you can see the plot twisting around Cotten tightly. But what makes The Third Man so great is its historical commentary. On one level The Third Man is a story of betrayal and corruption in a post-war, occupied Vienna. On the other hand, its giving the audience a glimpse of the mood of Europe after the great war. The uncertainty that the Cold War was bringing is evident through out the film, Cotten is constantly trying to figure out who to trust. Vienna is on the frontier of the new communist bloc. The zither music score combined with the stark images of bombed out Vienna are reminiscent of the frontier towns of American Westerns. So, The Third Man is not only a wonderful film noir, but a unique look at the brief time between WWII and the height of the Cold War.
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