in about 100 words or less
UK 104m, B&W
Director: Carol Reed; Cast: Joseph Cotton, Alida Valli, Orson Welles, Trevor Howard
Reminiscent of Hitchcock’s finest, The Third Man is the quintessential British film noir. Set at the beginning of the Cold War in occupied Vienna, the story follows the suspicious death and the wrong-doings of an American named Harry Lime, whose black market activities are the subject of an intense military investigation. This expressionist-styled thriller employs unusual camera angles and plays with shadow and harsh lighting in ways that provide a highly stylized look. Likewise, the use of the zither in the score provides a most memorable sound which further establishes the film’s disquieting atmosphere. The Third Man is also notable for one of the screen’s most memorable entrances by any actor – that of Orson Welles as the mysterious Harry Lime, who glibly appears in a darkened entrance – only to vanish as mysteriously as he appeared (Klaus Ming April 2011).