January 10th, 2011: The Third Man (1949)

Cast and Crew:  Carol Reed (Director); Graham Greene (screenplay and original novel); David O. Selznick (producer); Orson Welles; Trevor Howard; Aida Valli

What It’s About: Pulp Western novelist Holly Martens (Joseph Cotton) travels to post war Vienna to take a job with his friend Harry Lime’s medical charity.  When he arrives he finds out that Harry Lime is dead, run down by a car.  When Lime’s landlord tells him that there was a third man at the scene of the accident, one more than the official story, Martens begins investigating Lime’s death-and stirring up much more trouble than he bargained for.  As one character memorably tells Martens:  “You ought to go careful in Vienna.  Everyone ought to go careful, in a city like this.”

Why Watch it Today?: Today is the birthday of Bernard Lee, most known for playing “Min the Bond films from Dr. No through Moonraker. Here Lee is part of The Third Man‘s outstanding supporting cast, playing a British Sergeant who is the only person in the film who knows who Martens is-he is an avid fan of Martens’ novels-and the role is a remarkable departure from the staid “M”.  The Third Man is a winter film, taking place in the bleak, demolished locales of post-war Vienna during the season.  Beyond seasonal considerations, The Third Man is a classic (and this reviewer’s all-time favorite movie), featuring a great cast, beautiful (and Oscar-winning) black-and-white cinematography, an amazing soundtrack and quotable dialogue.

Where to Get It:  Netflix, iTunes, public libraries, or Amazon

The very silly TCM trailer: 

2 comments on “January 10th, 2011: The Third Man (1949)

  1. Barak says:

    And yet it’s so much better than the original trailer I saw on the DVD, which contains the line I still joke about with my girlfriend, “He’ll put you in a dither with his zither.”

    • professormortis says:

      Wow…that’s awful! The one I saw (I think I saw it after I saw the film, but at the Brattle, anyhow) was a really nice one done by Rialto for one of the re-releases-really well done, some of the best images without giving too much away.

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