The Third Man (1949)


A down on his luck pulp novelist arrives in post war Vienna with the promise of a job from an old friend, only to find he that has been killed in a car accident. Convinced of a conspiracy, he investigates.

Graham Greene’s adaptation of his own novel has a Hell of a lot to commend it; an intriguing mystery set in beautiful locations, with some gorgeous cinematography and full of wonderfully framed shots by director Carol Reed. Joseph Cotten makes an interesting departure from the usual Film Noir protagonist, both a fish out of water and out of his depth. Trevor Howard is also very good as the officious British investigator and Alida Valli is a beautiful, vulnerable yet complex love interest. It has only one flaw for me, but it’s a near fatal one; the soundtrack is so intrusive and inappropriate it almost ruins the film completely. It is far too loud, totally antagonistic towards the atmosphere the director and cinematographer had worked so hard to achieve and virtually constant. It’s like trying to watch The Maltese Falcon sat next to the band in a Greek restaurant and it seriously grated on my nerves.

This is a real shame because pretty much everything else about The Third Man is excellent.



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