“The Third Man” is considered one of the best movies ever made and it is included in most of the prestigious books and albums related to the cinematic art. Its popularity has grown over the time and nowadays many moviemakers and moviegoers include it on their top favourite films list, among them being the famous actor Sir Michael Caine, who once said in an interview that this was his personal favourite. “The Third Man” is a cult film in the British cinema and it is also a typical film noir of the 40s. The plot involves a mysterious crime, committed by a controversial character – of course, “the third man”-, who is revealed only in the last half of the film. Orson Welles makes a magnificent piece of artistry out of a tiny, but significant role. His genius as both an actor and a producer-director has brought many awards and recognitions that elevated the prestige of the British cinema, together with other personalities, such as Sir Laurence Olivier, Anton Walbrook, Claude Rains and Alfred Hitchcock. Welles improved the seventh art; his rebel and sinister originality brought quite often some shocking, memorable moments on the big screen. Aside from Welles, I ought to mention the fine actor Joseph Cotten (who made several productions together with Welles, such as “Citizen Kane” and “The Magnificent Ambersons”). In this particular movie he becomes some sort of detective looking for clues so he could solve the complicated and all too sudden death of his friend. In addition to this, you will have the pleasure to enjoy the performance of the vamp-like lady, Alida Valli, in perhaps her most memorable role in her entire career. Even though she was considered a sultry and seductive brunette, who could also act very well, her career didn’t last long and she received less and less interesting parts after the end of the 1940s. Trevor Howard is also recognisable in the film as the detective who investigates the murder, even though he is best remembered for another magnificent British creation, “Brief Encounter”. The director Carol Reed (who was nominated for an Oscar) and the screewriter Graham Greene managed to bring to life some unforgettable sequences. In my opinion, all the scenes with “the third man” are perfect, especially the chase in the Wienkanal, where the villain is trapped like a beetle. No wonder why it received an Oscar nomination for Best Film Editing and also a BAFTA award for Best Film, in 1950. There is one thing I didn’t like about it and that is the obsessive music performed on a zither, that is repeated over and over again in the most awkward moments possible. It disturbs me and it also distracts my attention, as a viewer, from the action that is being developed. In order to understand “The Third Man”, one has to watch it several times, as you will certainly find it challenging and fascinating, the same way the German expressionist films were in the 20s (in fact, those silent films were the source of inspiration to the film noir productions, 20 years later). “The Third Man” has an excellent camera management – the photography is perfect and the cinematography, that earned it an Oscar, reminds me of the expressionist mise-en-scène (or visual theme), that is so necessary when you show the public a very complex story, with lots of poignant moments, just like in the German masterpiece “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”.
All in all, I recommend you to watch this great British motion picture and to pay attention to all the details, if possible, because they contribute to the understanding of the plot and they also represent vivid samples of the originality that we see only in the good old movies.
You could watch “The Third Man” here