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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
PG
Cast
Joseph Cotten
Alida Valli
Trevor Howard.
Directors
Orson Welles.
Screenwriters
Graham Greene.
Running Time
100 minutes

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The Third Man
Vienna calling


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Plot
A writer heads to Vienna to clear his dead friends name. But not all is as it seems...


Review
The Third Man

Carol Reed's cult 40's thriller continues to unnerve audiences over 50 years later. It is a masterclass in atmosphere and style but also manages to haunt on many levels.

Down-on-his-luck pulp writer Holly Martins (Cotten) arrives broke in Allied-occupied Vienna at the invitation of his dear old pal Harry Lime (Welles), only to find Harry has been killed in an accident. When brisk British policeman Major Calloway (Howard) informs him that Harry was a notorious racketeer, the indignant Holly decides to clear his friend's name. As soon as he starts questioning Harry's weasly associates and hopeless refugee lover Anna (Valli), he's struck by some baffling inconsistencies in their stories. So he undertakes a quest through the seedy post-war city seeking the unknown "third man" at the scene of Harry's accident.

Holly is a character of naive persistence, unprepared for Greene's bleak trail of false identities, foul deeds and poisoned penicillin, so you fear with him as he's chasing and being chased through cobbled streets, bomb rubble and, most stunningly, the city's cavernous sewers. Welles appears just three times (and speaks only in the classic fairground scene) but his presence dominates - Reed acknowledged the charismatic Welles influenced the film's saturnine tone.

For his part, Reed's talent for catching detail and character subtleties found its richest expression, abetted by Robert Krasker's brilliant photography, and immortalised in the appearance of Harry in a doorway, fleetingly caught in the light from an upstairs window.


Extras

Third Man, The Third Man, The
Released: 01 February 2002
A snippet of Austrian newsreel location footage, a couple of trailers, a (slightly) alternate opening sequence, a bizarre interlude with composer Anton Karras in a Viennese restaurant and a couple of radio plays add up to charming but hardly indispensable extras.


Verdict
This will haunt you. The style, the plot, the character and of course ...that tune...


Reviewed by


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Average user rating for The Third Man
Empire Star Rating

Five stars for The Third Man

Delicious noir thriller set in the burned out remains of Vienna after WWII. Two-bit novelist Cotten arrives in the city looking for his friend Harry Lime only to discover that he’s dead and he was involved in all sorts of nefarious trafficking schemes. Although he’s only in the film for about 10 minutes, Welles makes a huge impression as the shady racketeer, though the rest of the cast are just as enigmatic. A tour de force for director Reed whose inspired choice of zither music and ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by RJNeb2 at 23:12, 26 July 2015 | Report This Post


One of those perfect movies

Not only one of the very best film noirs, one of the greatest movies, period. Also has my favourite movie moment of all time. You know what bit I'm talking about. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Mr Gittes at 23:45, 10 February 2013 | Report This Post


A stunning, surreal film noir with some of cinema's most classic scenes ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheNapalmKid at 09:09, 12 October 2009 | Report This Post


A stunning, surreal film noir with some of cinema's most classic scenes ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheNapalmKid at 09:09, 12 October 2009 | Report This Post


L'age D'or

What strkes the sudience at the intial viewing of this dark and atmospheric masterpiece, is the movie's inherent stylishness and fulfllment of all that has become standard in fim noir. The direction is perfect, the acting flawless (particularly the ever brilliant Orson Welle's) and the music can be best described as haunting. The word perfection is used all too often in reviewing the classics, but this, arguably, comes the closest to earning it. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Deanstuff at 04:05, 18 July 2007 | Report This Post


Perfection

note perfect acting, direction, cinematography and writing ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by amateur ghostbuster at 12:01, 10 December 2006 | Report This Post


Perfection

note perfect acting, direction, cinematography and writing ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by amateur ghostbuster at 12:01, 10 December 2006 | Report This Post


... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by father_jack at 21:50, 01 September 2006 | Report This Post



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