THE THIRD MAN

(1949)
With Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles, Trevor Howard, Bernard Lee, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Paul Hoerbiger
Directed by Carol Reed
Black and White
Reviewed by JL and JB

    Sir Carol Reed's classic spy thriller THE THIRD MAN owes a couple of stylistic nods to Hitchcock as well as the film's costar, Orson Welles.  Joseph Cotten plays Holly Martins, a somewhat obtuse but honest American pulp novelist, who searches war-torn Vienna for clues regarding his old friend Harry Lime (Welles), who may or may not be dead, and who may or may not be a murderous drug dealer.  With its shadowy mise-en-scène, tilted camera angles, and Anton Karas's eccentric zither score (that often seems perversely unrelated to the action), THE THIRD MAN is a film remembered for its unique hyper-expressionism as much as its content.  Welles's first appearance and the film's final shot are among the cinema's most indelible images.  Somebody slap me if I ever use the term "mise-en-scène" again. 5 - JL

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