By Luis Ortega
The 1-4-0: The 1949 classic still remains a successful film-noir masterpiece #TheThirdMan.
The Gist: A down-on-his-luck writer, Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten), arrives in Vienna on the recommendation of his childhood friend, Harry Lime (Orson Welles). Upon arriving, Martins learns Lime has recently passed away in an accident. However, it isn’t long before Martins starts to question the unusual circumstances of his friend’s death and begins to wonder if the death really was accidental or was he murdered?
What Works: The film remains ageless and intriguing to this day. Subtle with its humor. Witty with its dialogue. Intriguing with its suspense. The Third Man has a timeless quality to it that can be enjoyed at any time. From the opening image of Big Ben to the closing shot of a lone Holly as he’s rejected by Anna; scene after scene is made with such care and passion that it speaks as Carol Reed’s love letter to cinema. Each character is brought to life by Graham Greene’s screenplay as it lends a down-to-earth quality to even the most villainous of the cast. Anna Schmidt brings forth the hopeless romantic who has about lost everything. Holly: the writer drawn to a good story. Major Calloway: the soldier with the mindset for justice, even though it seems like he’s had enough.
As the story begins to unravel there seem to be more questions than answers. Was Lime murdered? Is anyone out to kill Holly? Does Anna know anything? More importantly, who was the third man? When the film does start to provide one with answers it doesn’t fail to surprise the audience. The noir element of the film is always used to full advantage, never abandoning its dark tone and atmosphere that seems to have taken over Vienna.
The biggest appealing factor of this release, however, is its 4K restoration. Beautifully done, the film has a clean, but gritty looking quality to it that’s true to the original. The detail is fresh on faces and clothing. Scenes with shadows have a natural and true quality to the blacks. Great care has indeed been put to the restoration of this classic.
What Doesn’t Work: I honestly can’t think of anything negative to say of this film. If there were something it would have to be how I wish that the city of Vienna played a larger role. We revisit a lot of the same places so rarely do we get to see a living, breathing city. A few characters dropped out of the face of the earth during the final act of the film, but that is understandable given the plot. Aside from that there are no negatives in my opinion.
Pay or Nay: Pay. A gorgeous looking movie following its 4K restoration, the film remains as good as it ever was. Truly a great time for any lover of cinema.
Release Date: June 26, 2015
Screenplay: Graham Greene
Director(s): Carol Reed
Starring: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Film Genre: Film Noir, Mystery, Thriller