movie film review | chris tookey

Third Man

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  Third Man Review
Tookey's Rating
8 /10
Average Rating
9.81 /10
Joseph Cotten , Orson Welles , Alida Valli
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Directed by: Carol Reed
Written by: Graham Greene

Released: 1949
Origin: GB
Length: 100


An American writer (Joseph Cotten, pictured left) arrives in postwar Vienna to find that a friend of his, Harry Lime (Orson Welles, pictured right) is dead - or is he?

Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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A great film noir thriller: stylish, humorous and elegantly written by Graham Greene - this meditation on the nature of friendship and loyalty in a war-weary world was his only completely original screenplay. It is slow-paced by comparison with modern thrillers, but has an atmosphere all its own, thanks partly to Robert Krasker's Academy Award-winning black-and-white photography, but also to Anton Karas's haunting zither music.
Carol Reed directs in fine style, and is helped by Oswald Hafenrichter's Oscar-nominated editing. Many critics have noticed Orson Welles's influence on the chiaroscuro photography and unusual camera angles, and he certainly wrote much of his own, ultra-cynical dialogue. Although he is not on screen for long, this is one of his most memorable performances - a study in decadence and evil, hiding behind a smooth exterior. It won a BAFTA AWard as Best British Film, though it was unaccountably overlooked at the Oscars.

Postscript: Now I look at it in 2008, the thriller plot no longer holds up so well. Itís creaky and laborious, while the supporting performances are more than a shade melodramatic. Alida Valli now strikes me as underpowered, where previously I found her enigmatic. I fear this is now a period piece, rather than the taut thriller it appeared to be for so long, which is why Iíve downgraded it from 10 to 8. Itís still worth seeing, though, for its numerous strengths (especially its atmosphere), and it remains an important influence on later writers and directors.

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