"The Third Man" (1949) | Sam Gall Movie Review Issue #100 Gem Mint 10.0


“The Third Man“ (1949)

Director: Carol Reed

Writer: Graham Greene

Starring: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Trevor Howard, Bernard Lee, Paul Horbiger, Ernst Deutsch

Rated: Approved (PG if I had to give it one maybe?)

Runtime: 1h 33min

Genre: Film-Noir, Mystery, Thriller, Crime

Country: UK

Language: English | German | Russian


"Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, Harry Lime."

You might like this if you like: Film Noir, Mysteries, Thrillers, Crime Stories, Pulp Fiction (literally not the movie), Orson Welles, Carol Reed, Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Trevor Howard, Bernard Lee, Paul Horbiger, Ernst Deutsch


"The Third Man" (1949)


Thank you to my film professor, Ed Kaplan, for showing this film to me in his directing class. It has stayed with me ever since. It haunts me with inspiration. Thank you. It holds a special place in my heart. I associate it with a time when I first fell deeply in love with all of this.


Joseph Cotten in "The Third Man" (1949)


It was certainly my first Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles film. Probably a first for everyone involved. It was a beautiful introduction to film noir for me. The photography, the sets, and of course, the music, will never leave my mind.


Alida Valli in "The Third Man" (1949)


I remember years later, when I was the digital projectionist for the Ojai Film Society, we screened “The Third Man” (1949) and I couldn’t have been more honored! What I didn’t understand though was that critic Kenneth Turan came as a guest speaker to “introduce” the film and do a “Q&A”, which going in, I thought “Oh was he involved in the making of this somehow?”.


It didn’t make sense to me why he was here and all of the questions from the audience wanted to know little trivia about the film of which he new nothing of. He guessed the year it came out. 90% of his answers I remember were just “I’m not sure”. It was disappointing, as before screening the movie (without even knowing he was showing up) I brushed up on, studied the film and rewatched it. I didn’t want to represent the film in any way, but I still didn't get why him.


Orson Welles in "The Third Man" (1949)


I don’t have anything profound to say about the film other than how much I admire it. It’s a fascinating little mystery that unfolds into an exciting and mesmerizing ride. It was crucial in my development of film passion and love for the genre of film noir. Appreciate Ed Kaplan greatly for showing this to me and for the Ojai Film Society for just being as badass as they are for showing this. It truly is one of my favorites.


Written by Sam Gall on 03/24/21


CGC Grading: Gem Mint 10.0


"The writing, the acting, the music, and the locations are so distinct and recognizable that they have become lodged in our consciousness." - Allen Almachar, The MacGuffin


"The astounding acting bit, it may turn out, is that contributed by Orson Welles. As the object of this chilling search, Welles for once is pulled back to the size of a gifted actor, a trick for which he and a lot of old Welles' admirers can thank Reed." - Jay Carmody, Washington Star


"The music is as distinctive as the James Bond or Star Wars theme..." - Lisa Nesselson, France24


"This film is lively, always moving forward, constantly bubbling with mystery and suspicion and secrets, but the characters are always driving the film." - Sean Axmaker, Stream on Demand


"Reed and screenwriter Graham Greene let the story unfold slowly and deliberately, like the cigarette smoke that floats around the characters, and keep us guessing at every step." - Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times


Official Trailer:


Available on various VOD platforms


#TheThirdMan #CarolReed #OrsonWelles #AlidaValli #TrevorHoward #BernardLee #PaulHorbiger #ErnstDeutsch

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