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Third Man, The (1949)

 

 third1
Is it me or are amusement parks just a little better today?

Genre: Film-Noir Mystery Thriller (UK)

Starring: Joseph Cotten (Under Capricorn; Shadow Of A Doubt), Alida Valli (The Paradine Case; Eyes Without A Face)

Directed By: Carol Reed

Overview: Holly Martins arrives in Vienna to meet his friend and host Harry Lime, but it seems that Harry's just died. When the police don't bother looking into the possible murder of a suspected black marketeer, Holly is left to his own devices.  

Performance:

Having cameos like Orson Welles and established Noir actors like Joseph Cotten might be enough for many productions.  What more can you ask than having your talent deliver lines with enough character to make your audience understand the unsaid? Yes, these players really know their work, and even if Carol Reed didn't make that much of a name for himself outside of The Third Man, he knew enough to pick a solid bunch for this one.  However, the love interest, for as much as she is integral to the plot, seemed very thin in character, almost like a pair of hooters, a pretty face and a touch of devotion is enough to carry her to the last scene.  Well, we'll leave that flaw for the Plot section shant we?  
Rating: 8

Cinematography:

Absolutely gorgeous.  Think of Classic Film Noir: long shadows down steaming alleyways shot in Glorious Black and White in the night. Moments of towering classical architecture juxtaposed with bombed out decay, lazy drifting cigarette smoke and fedoras.  There is no doubt that this film was Top 10 for defining the look of Noir. Still, it should have been a Silent.
Rating: 9

Script:

On more than one occasion as I watched a scene, I thought "And? Why are you talking? Where's the plot development here?" Knowing that a film is important, that it's classic, that it's on many a Must See list - including AFI's Top 100 - certainly does a thing to one's expectations. Regardless of the fact that I can appreciate an older film for the occasional moment of dated dialogue, it doesn't help to have a film that just talks at me. Worst part of the production.
Rating: 5

Plot:

There are very few film that set up their introductions this well.  As it was with Hiroshima Mon Amour, you start at a high point that simply can't keep us at that plateau. In fact I found this movie dragged on a bit. I wouldn't complain about plot holes or predictability, and that ending was about as amazing as the beginning, but for me that amounts to 20 minutes with some pretty pictures in the middle.
Rating: 6

Mood:

It hurts to write a review like this sometimes, going against the tides of established classic film as The Third Man, but it's got to happen sometimes.  Yes, the visual Noir is what makes this movie classic for it's Genre, and for as much as the introduction sets up the film perfectly, that damned guitar - what is that flamenco?! - jumps out at us awkwardly all too often.  I don't see how folk guitar playing loudly fits in with a child chasing our hero down silhouetted cobblestone post-war Viennese streets.  As awkward as the first time you asked for your massage 'with release'.
Rating: 6

 third2
"Rather than talking about heaters and gams, could we just talk about feelings?"

Overall Rating: 68% (The Second Man Fell Asleep)
Aftertaste:

In short, an over-rated film that has its moments yet left me wanting, as well as leaving me to wonder why this was so good in so many eyes.  I don't believe that cinematography can really carry a film so far as this.  If anyone has an explanation of something I missed, feel free to lambaste me, or at the very least, enlighten. As for me, another one down.

This post was originally written back on February 13, 2007

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It's official. You're crazy.
What colour is the sky in your universe?


Funny you should mention, but I was talking to my local video store owner over at invisible Cinema, and he agreed with me.  Pretty and good ending but lacking a certain "Je ne sais plot".


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Yes, Squish. Y-E-S. I have seen "Shawshank" approximately 47 times now and it only gets better. I find something new to love about it every time, which is the test of a classic film. At first I was a little irked that they changed the character of Red -- in Stephen King's novella he's an Irishman -- but Morgan Freeman is so good in the part how could I keep that up? He has nice chemistry with Tim Robbins, an actor I always thought was underappreciated.


Just an FYI, that's a zither playing, not a guitar.


Thanks Sir Otter. Somehow that makes it just a little better.

just a ... teeeeny little.

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