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The Third Man (DVD)

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Genre: Drama / Theatrical Release: 1949 / Director: Carol Reed / Actors: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten ... / DVD released 25 September, 2006 at Optimum Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: Box set, PAL, Special Edition

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    11 Reviews
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      04.05.2010 10:48
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      The slickest, and perhaps best British film of all.

      The Third Man is one of the best film ever made, and certainly one of the classic film noirs. It's Carol Reed's (some might remember for directing Oliver!) absolute masterpiece of direction, and has one of the best scripts ever written and some of the slickest acting. It stars Joseph Cotton as Holly Martins, an author in search of his friend Harry Lime, who is played by scene stealing Orson Welles. There is seriously good support from Trevor Howard who plays Major Colloway and Alida Valli as the mysterious lady Anna Schmidt. And watch out for Bernard Lee, Geoffrey Keen, Robert Brown and Eric Polhman, who were all cast in the Bond films at a later stage in major roles. That's how good this cast is. It's a cast that other films used.

      The film is set in post war Vienna, which has been split into four parts between the Russians, the French, the Americans and the British. Specifically, we focus on the Russians and British as they try to hunt Harry Lime down.

      Holly Martins arrives in Vienna in search of Harry Lime, his friend. He is a successful author and comes to Austria to write something, thinking that he can see his friend at the same time. However, in trying to find him, he finds that doors are closed to him, that people don't want to know him or speak of him and that eventually, he's dead. Broken, Holly spends some time with Major Colloway, who tells him about the death and who Harry really was. Harry was in fact a smuggler, who is responsible for causing brain damage in children with smuggled and doctored penicillin. Naturally, Holly can't believe it and doesn't believe it.

      However, all that changes when he meets Anna Schmidt, Harry's love interest, who seems to know more than she is telling. After speaking to a door man, he learns that Harry was run over and that three men helped him. Then it hits him. He was told previously that there were only two men. So who was The Third Man. Holly now digs even deeper, and finds himself dragged into the world of murder and smuggling as he finds out what has really been happening with his friend Harry, leading to a thrilling climax in the streets if Vienna, and one of the best climaxes in cinema history.

      This is such a class act. The acting from all angles is faultless, and it says a lot that most of the support cast went on to act in Bond. Even the Big Wheel was used as a Bond location again, and you get the feeling this that film has influenced so many others. Carol Reed's direction is superb and you really do enter every hidden corner of society in this film. It also boasts one of the finest screenplays of all time from British writer Graham Greene.

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      05.12.2009 18:46
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      A must see film. One of the best Britain has ever managed to produce.

      The Third Man is a film that reguarly appears on those 'best films of all time' and all such lists despite being released over 50 years ago and in black and white. As an amateur film admirer (we all are aren't we?) I decided to give it a look in after having it recommended to me by a friend.

      The Third Man tells the story of Holly Martins who having received a letter from his friend Harry Lime about wishing to work with him travels to Vienna. On his arrival he discovers that Harry has been killed by a lorry whilst crossing the road. He rushes to Lime's funeral and discovers finds out about Lime's wish for his girlfriend to be looked after. Finding Lime's girlfriend Anna he talks to her and begins to suspect Lime's death...

      There are a number of amazing aspects to this incredible film. It contains some of the most classic scenes of cinema. The cat in the door way scene, the chase scene and that endlessly reproduced scene of Anna walking off into the distance at the end of the film. It also contains one of the most fantastic film scores of jangling guitar which is jarring and dramatic, I believe it was also one of the first score written specifically for a film and the film won an award for its soundtrack. The camera work is also great, at no point is the camera sitting as if its on a flat surface, every angle is slanted. A technique used to jar and disorient the audience. It's an odd but effective touch. The starring actor is Orson Welles and oddly for a film the big star actor does not appear until the last 20 minutes. It's an incredible film and every scene feels perfect, it's difficult to describe a film without you watching it really. It's a must see for any amateur film admirers like myself.

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        03.08.2009 21:19

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        The Third man is a tale of deceit and mystery that has been cited by many as the best film ever made, and though you and i may not think this to be true it's hard to criticize the fact that this film is a masterpiece of modern cinema. This film is filled with mesmerizing scenes and visuals that will take you breathe away and some characters that to this day have yet to be matched. Though this film is a little slow at times, and maybe even a bit tedious to watch - i know i for one did look at the clock more than once during the film - that does no discredit this film in away way, for once you understand where the plot is going and you begin to add everything up in the film, you really start to realize that this film is a true classic.

        The cinematography in this film is fantastic, i was lucky enough to get the opportunity to really study this film in detail and see the things that you don't always notice with films. For instance, the way that Vienna is cast in an almost surreal light with prominent use of shadow and angle that create an illusion that the place is almost lopsided and that normal physics do not apply, this helps generate the true sense of suspense that the film carries right to the end and a great setting for the scene of plotters and schemers.

        One truly great performance stands above the rest here and of course it is Orson Welles - an absolutely oxymoron of a character with his sophisticated yet lethal portrayal of Harry Lime who seems so charming and first and yet so incredibly cruel to the world. His entrance into the film along with his speech on the ferris wheel are absolutely sublime and a real lesson in film making and suspense building, i give all the credit to Carol Reed for this.

        The Third Man to me especially seemed like just another Ben Hur or Gone with the Wind - a film that is ranted and ranted about but never quite lives up the the hype but it is so much more than that. It is a film where pace, tone and atmosphere are brought together in a perfect combination to create a timeless classic. Although i must add that i hear so much about the score for this film and i personally disliked it.

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        07.07.2009 01:42
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        This glorious film is a true classic, and a historic document as well as marvellous cinema, with its footage of post-War Vienna, a divided and unhappy city beginning to come to terms with itself. Everything about it is memorable - the naggingly catchy zither tune by Anton Karas which opens it (the Harry Lime theme), the eerie black and white photography, Graham Greene's excellently mysterious plot line, and in particular the performances, not so much of Joseph Cotten, who is fine and doesn't let the side down, as of Trevor Howard trying to make good British sense of an out-of-control situation, Alida Valli as Lime's doomed, tragic, world-weary, stunning girlfriend and Orson Welles as Harry Lime himself, one of the most memorably delayed entries in all cinema, seductive and sinister at the same time.

        The film is gracefully produced and directed by the British Carol Reed - it's clear to see that blood, sweat and tears went into its production. It is beautiful to the eye and completely compelling, one of the very great films. The score is also a stand-out point - with first viewing it doesn't seem to fit completely, not quite in touch with the mood of the film, but it slowly transforms into a fitting companion for the video as the story progresses.

        Wholeheartedly recommended.

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          25.06.2009 12:41
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          Excellent noir thriller, one of the best

          The Third Man is one of those films that I have heard the name of countless number of times, without ever having understood what it is about or having watched it. However, having watched it recently, I found myself mesmerised by how well written a film it is.

          It's a classic noir thriller, and considered the best British film ever by the British Fim Institute. Shot mainly on location in Vienna, the film is set post-Second World War as author Holly Martins travels to Vienna to find his friend, Harry Lime, only to hear of his death and be just in time for his funeral. Diggin around to find out more about his friend's death, Holly soon finds himself caught up in a world of corruption, deceit and underground black market. And the one thing no one is sure of is whether Harry's death was an accident or murder.....

          Directed by Sir Carol Reed, the film is extremely well put together, and the suspense and cinematography are phenomenal. The sinister element of Vienna by night is captured marvellously by cinematographer Robert Krasker, and he deserves a round of applause. Reed manages to give us a carefully controlled adaptation of Graham Greene's novel, with the dialogue cleverly interspersed in order to allow the visual elements of the film to be fully exploited by the viewer.

          Indeed, it is the visual part that is so impressive, with the cast's expressions and movements second to none. Lead actor Joseph Cotten plays Holly Martins, and is well cast as a typical American gent coming over and refusing to believe his friend's death is as simple as it first seems. His relative naivety at times clashes with his determination, making him a very curious character, and one who matches very well on screen with Alida Valli, who plays Harry's lover, Anna. Holly finds himself falling for Anna, and the tension between the two characters is evident more and more as the film progresses.

          The calmness of Trevor Howard as British Major Calloway is also excellent. The character never seems to lose patience, and is a constant calming presence for all other characters. Seemingly in control and very relaxed, he si the very opposite of Bernard Lee's character, Sergeant Paine, who is constantly up and down and very hyperactive, yes sir, no sir, can't stop talking sir.

          But, in a way, it is the brief and fresh role played by Orson Welles as Harry Lime that takes the limelight away from these other actors. Welles commands the screen, and is like a breath of fresh air, a character with seemingly no care in the world and a thousnd expressions. It is his facial contortions and slight adjustments that seem quite magical.

          Overall, it is a very well worked tale, with a lot of post-war paranoia being displayed through a number of different nationalities, with the elements of US-Russian tensions already apparent by this point in the world. This is used to good effect in the film, as is the presence of the British in Austria. There are some differences in the film adaptation, some involving nationalities, some involving names, but it still retains the essence of the book and gives a very good portrayal of a powerful noir thriller.

          Krasker's filming angles and the stark contrast between the black and white of the film are also to marvel at, particularly with a chase scene involving sewer tunnels. It is well done in contrast to closeups on characters' faces, designed to explain the tense nature of the scenes. This, it achieves grandly. Also highly apt is the music, or indeed lack of it at times. Again, the chase scene has virtual silence in terms of music, increasing the tension, while other scenes are peppered throughout the film by the use of a zither, a string instrument that is placed on a table to use. Anton Karas' score and his playing on the zither have been well lauded in terms of cinema, and the style has been used many a time in many different genres.

          Vienna looks tired, war ravaged and confused, in the film, and it is perhaps this impression that makes the film that much more clear cut and understandable in terms of its twisting and paranoid characters. I found it a lot more enjoyable to watch than I originally thought I would, and to this extent, I would be happy to watch it again. There is a multitude of things that I have undoubtedly missed, with a number of subtle events passing me by. I shall wait a while first, though, and let this gem of a film sink in before I contemplate catching the things I have missed.

          The Third Man is a film I definitely recommend watching. It is currently available on DVD on amazon.co.uk for £6.98. I only have a 1 disc version, which is a shame, as I really would have liked to gain an insight into the film and anything going on behind the scenes. Highly recommended!

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            16.03.2009 13:47

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            Masterpiece of cinema.

            A brillinat tale of deception, corruption, and betrayal, Graham Greene's literary masterpiece is turned into a cinematic gem by director Carol Reed.

            The film centres around the dark, black market of post-WWII Vienna, and the trials of one of its inhabitants as he indulges in the racketeering that sweeps the dank city.

            While laden with standout performances - especially those from Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles - this magnificent film is worth watching for its aesthetics alone. The Oscar winning cinematography is some of the finest in history - watch out for the introduction of Welles's character, a magic moment in the history of film. The cobbled streets and the dank, dark sewers are brought to life by the genious of cinematographer Robert Krasker.

            The Third Man will keep you riveted with suspense and excitement, inviting you in to the underbelly of Vienna and its dark dealings. You will be hard pushed to find such a wonderfully tense and breathtaking thriller. A true milestone in British film making.

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            17.12.2008 09:05
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            A true classic of British cinema.

            What is there left be said about Carol Reed's sublime thriller?

            I watched it again just recently, as I had picked up a little book called "The Lives of Harry Lime" - a series of prequel stories based on a BBC radio show from the 'fifties (Harry Lime is the 'main' character - if you can call him that - of the film).

            The Third Man is about the death of Lime - his old friend, Holly Martins, is investigating this death, and uncovering unpleasant truths about the city and his old friend's activities there - but who is the mysterious person of the title who attends Lime's funeral? The answer will surprise and shock you.

            The setting is a grimly beautiful post-war Vienna, segmented into Allied zones - many of the shots in the film have become iconic - not least those involving the ferris wheel, where one of the most famous little monologues in cinema is delivered - too lengthy to put here, but highly amusing - unless you're Swiss!

            Reed uses expressionistic camera angles to really get over the edginess of the plot and locale (another director famously sent Reed a spirit-level after the release of this film, with an attached note saying "just pop this on top of your camera next time, Carol!"

            The plot is complex, with a number of unforeseen twists, and I can't really talk too much about it without giving them away here. Suffice to say it is based on a Graham Greene script (although Greene famously commented that Lime's character was completely created by Orson Welles - Greene felt he had just given him a name.)

            Welles is superb in this film - just beginning to get slightly jowly, his matinee idol cheekbones slipping, his eerily expressive eyes glaring out from under his black trilby - and it is undoubtedly "his" film, although he is neither the lead nor the director. His bleak - nihilistic, even - outlook is suffused with a laconic charm - a trick only a master craftsman like Welles could have achieved. It is significant, and completely down to Welles' charm that such a repellent character went on to be a heroic mainstay of BBC radio and TV for many years following this film.

            A nearly perfect film - eclipsed only, perhaps, by Orson Welles own "Citizen Kane" - "the Third Man" will intrigue and, maybe, haunt you!

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              22.03.2002 22:48
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              The Third Man is in my opinion the greatest film of all time and I am always right so trust me on this one. Everything about this film is perfect, there isnt an unneeded scene anywhere! The film begins with Holly Martin arriving in Vienna to work for his good friend Harry Limes. However on arriving he learnsthat his friend has recently been killed in a car accident. After doing some investigating of his own he discovers his friends death was no accident and that there was more to it than the police wished to accept. The film goes on with Holly falling in love with Limes girlfriend and continueing his own investigations into a suspicious third man who seemed to have been present at Limes death but yet who nobody else seems to know anything about. As the film goes on Holly uncovers the real truth surrounding his friends death, a truth which is hard for him to accept. Anyway I dont want to ruin the whole story so Ill stop now, all ill say is the best scenes are the one with the cat playing with the shoe laces in the doorway(watch the film and you will understand why)and the famous chase scene in the sewers. The actors in it are some of the greatest ever such as Orsen Welles, Joseph Cotten (who starred together in Citizen Kane), Trevor Howard and Bernard Lee. Alida Valli also makes a great performance as Anna the only real female character in the film. The characters these play are absoultely brilliant and the relationship between them all is one of the great things about this film. My personal favourite in the film is probably trevor Howard as Major Calloway. Also the directing of the film is magnificent from director carol Reed who really captures the atmosphere of war torn Vienna, another great film he director is 'The Fallen Idol'. The story was written by the fmaous writer Graham Greene, who also wrote 'the Fallen Idol, but the film is a lot better than the book and Graham Greene himself said it had been writ
              en for film. Another great aspect of the film is the zither music. Your probably asking yourself what the hell is a zither? yes thats what I asked myself too. Anyway its a strange table instrument which is plucked. The music is brilliant and is used in the film so well, I cant think of another film that uses its music so well maybe Star Wars and Indiana Jones come close but this Zither music is so memorable and addictive. It really encaptulates the current mood in the film by the performer, Anton Karas, playing different bits or at different tempos. After seeing the film you will always think of that music when you think about the film, its as important to the film as the actors or director! The location is also perfect. it is set in Vienna, and apparently was the first British film to be entirely filmed on location. It was made in 1949 and so they managed to get a fell of what war torn Vienna was like. And the locations used are great like the Sewers and the Ferris Wheel, there is still a fair ground there today I saw it on Blue Peter! I believe this to be the greatest film of all time, incidently it was recently voted the greatest British film of all time by the British Institute. Just like the beatles are the definition of great music, The Third Man is the definition of a good film or at the least the definition of a perfect film noir. Anyway believe me if your a fan of films, and not one of those stupid ones that says a film is "bad" because its old or in black and white, then you will love this. And now its available on DVD in the UK! I will leave you with a quote from the film, this line written and spoken by orsen welles in the film which really sums up welles' genius: "In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brot
              herly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

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                16.11.2000 00:40

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                The haunting Harry Lime Theme played by Anton Karas on the zither is as much part of the film as is Orson Welles. This is a tale of mystery and suspense filmed in black and white on the streets of Vienna in the years following the war. It wouldn't be fair to a new viewer, if one actually exists, to recount the story so I'll confine myself to saying that it is a "must see" film with first rate direction and superbly dark camera work. It captures the mood of post war Vienna with all the rackets going on perfectly and leaves you looking over your shoulder as you walk the dark streets back to your light and bright home.

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                02.10.2000 14:54
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                I was off to Vienna on a football trip a couple of years back. My uncle came round the day before I left with a video of this film. To be perfectly honest I?d never heard of it, but he told me to watch it to get a feel of Vienna. I loved every minute of it. Don?t let the age of it or the fact it?s black and white put you off. The use of Vienna?s stunning scenery is breathtaking, as is the acting. Orson Welles of course steals the show as harry lime, a sort of modern day Kaiser Soze of usual suspects fame. The music is brilliantly sinister too. All in all an excellent piece of film. The scenes in the sewers and on the ferris wheel are my favourite of all time. I even thought the film was better than the book, that had never happened before or since.

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                  04.08.2000 20:36
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                  As a Graham Greene fan, I think this is probably the best of the films based on his work. Partly because it is just so close to the original novel: filmed in the dark years after the Second World War, in the streets of Vienna. But direction, performances, and surroundings all contribute to a stunning film. The central character is a writer, in fact more of a hack. He is visiting the city of Vienna, divided between the Allied powers after the war, and discovers his old friend Harry Lime has died suspiciously. As the plot unveils, he learns of the black market that operates, then finds that Lime (the legendary Orson Welles) is alive. Attracted to his friend's lover, he is thrown into a dilema. The fine story is backed by superb scenes, and a fantastic score, erily atmospheric Zither music which is instantly recognisable. The settings include thrilling chases through the tunnels, and the superb view from the big wheel, looking down at the city to illustrate Lime's view of humanity. Even problems in filming, such as Welles' absence, are dealt with as part of the mood, avoiding face shots and the fine use of shadows. Last, if I have not been enthusiastic enough, watch the ending. All of the ending. I was told this when I first saw the film, and this final twist is a matching piece of genius. That last, long scene encapsulates the whole difference between this and the old formulas.

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