"In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance; in Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did they produce' The cuckoo clock."
- Harry Lime (Orson Welles)
Academy Awards 1950 -
Best Cinematography: Robert Krasker
Cannes 1949 -
Sight and Sound - 04/01/1994
"...The film's disenchanted romanticism exerts an irresistible charm. Nearly half a century on, that charm hasn't diminished in the least..."
Los Angeles Times - 06/10/1999
"...THE THIRD MAN provides superior roles for all its lead actors..."
Chicago Sun-Times - 07/30/1999
"...One of the greatest of all films, and one of the most entertaining....It is one of the few films every movie lover absolutely must see..."
USA Today - 12/03/1999
"...The greatest of the foreign-based film noir dramas..."
Total Film - 10/01/2000
"...Carol Reed's gripping 1949 thriller was proclaimed as the best British film of all time by the British Film Institute..."
Premiere - 04/01/2004
"Lime is a character of volatile complexity..."
Premiere - 05/01/2006
"Welles could play the most seductive of villains; his amoral, charismatic Harry Lime is one of his most unforgettable."
Entertainment Weekly - 05/25/2007
"[A]n unassailable classic....[Welles'] speech comparing the ruthless Borgia family and the peace-loving Swiss still raises goose bumps." -- Grade: A
This classic noir mystery, from the team of Carol Reed and Graham Greene, is generally considered to be the best filmwork of both of these estimable talents. THE THIRD MAN features Joseph Cotten as Holly Martins, a pulp novelist who has come to post-WWII Vienna with the promise of work from his friend, Harry Lime (Orson Welles). When he finds that Lime has just been killed in a questionable car accident, he decides to remain in the city to investigate his friend's demise.
Carol Reed reached the peak of his form with this classic noir, an elegy for American innocence and European elegance. Joseph Cotten, in fine form, stars as unemployed pulp-novelist Holly Martins. When he arrives in post-WWII Vienna on the promise of a job from his old friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles), he finds that Lime has recently died in a dubious car accident. Against the advice of British sector authority Major Calloway (Trevor Howard), who accuses Lime of criminal behavior, the indignant Martins decides to stay to investigate his friend's death. He searches this city of rubble-strewn streets and bombed-out buildings, earnestly questioning Lime's associates, a cynical, war-weary collection of black-market hustlers. At length, he realizes that the stories he's hearing are so full of contradiction, he's getting nowhere. Yet, he's entranced by Lime's beautiful girlfriend, Anna Schmidt (Alida Valli), who, unlike the others, seems to have loved Harry. Calloway finally provides evidence of Harry's treachery, and Martins, despondent, is about to return home when everything changes in a shadowed moment. THE THIRD MAN is a masterpiece of melancholia featuring extraordinary writing, acting, and directing, as well as a classic zither score by Anton Karas. Welles is memorable as the seductive villain, but the true star may be the camera work of Robert Krasker, which transforms Vienna into a coruscating, expressionist nightmare.