November 2014 Blind Spot: The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949)


I’ve been trying to write this review for some time but I never got in the mood and never felt like I had the words to make this beautiful film justice. I hope I’ll come up to my ow expectations for this review.

So, I finally saw this noir classic, The Third Man, directed by Carol Reed, and starring Joseph Cotton, Orson Welles, Alida Valli and Trevor Howard. For those who don’t know, The Third Man is about a pulp writer played by Cotton who comes to Vienna to meet his childhood friend, Harry Lime, only to find out that he died.


The Third Man is known for not being an ordinary kind of film noir. Many of the tropes are there but somehow it manages to stand out from the usual which are great in their own way.

The film stars with beautiful jazzy music, something you hear in a Woody Allen film. It took me a while to get used to the music which dictates the film’s atmosphere but in the end I appreciated it for making the film unique. It’s really a one of a kind combination, so memorable that becomes a part of the film’s identity.


After seeing many films from the noir genre, I noticed the way the different way the camera follows the action. This is another one of those unique things that makes The Third Man different from a typical noir.

I can’t really remember if there are any other notable deviations from the genre, but these two have been so influential and worked so great with the story that they became an example of diversity in cinema.

The story of The Third Man is quite interesting and exciting. I don’t know what more can I add to it. I think, in terms of plot, it’s something that even contemporary audiences can get into. Plus the dialogue is so well written you can’t help getting into the story.


Another strong element of The Third Man is the acting. Joseph Cotten gives a great performance as the main character and his chemistry with Orson Welles is undeniable. It also helps that they were very good friends in real life. Alida Valli is an actress whose work I haven’t really followed. I did see her in two of her later films, Suspiria and Eyes Without A Face, both films in which she played a villain. Here she is our femme fatale but not the cunning kind. She is more heartbroken over her lover’s death and doesn’t seem to have other plans on her mind. Terrific performance. Trevor Howard is an actor whose work I haven’t followed at all. Haven’t seen him in anything at all. I liked his work here.

The cinematography is something worth mentioning too as this film is among the most beautiful B&W films of all time. The scenes in the tunnel are a prime example of cinematographer, Robert Krasker’s work here.

If you have never seen The Third Man, I highly recommend it. It’s a tremendous work of art and an incredible piece of cinema, a representation of forward thinking in cinema. A classic.




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