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The Third Man In this Cold War spy classic, Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten), a third-rate American pulp novelist, arrives in postwar Vienna, where he has been promised a job by his old friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles). Upon his arrival, Martins discovers that Lime has been killed in a traffic accident, and that his funeral is taking place immediately. At the graveside, Martins meets outwardly affable Major Calloway (Trevor Howard) and actress Anna Schmidt (Alida Valli), who is weeping copiously. When Calloway tells Martins that the late Harry Lime was a thief and murderer, the loyal Martins is at first outraged. Gradually, he discovers not only that Calloway was right but also that the man lying in the coffin in the film's early scenes was not Harry Lime at all--and that Lime is still very much alive (he was the mysterious "third man" at the scene of the fatal accident). Thus the stage is set for the movie's famous climactic confrontation in the sewers of Vienna--and the even more famous final shot, in which Martins pays emotionally for doing "the right thing." Written by Graham Greene, The Third Man is an essential classic, made even more so by the insistent zither music of Anton Karas. The film is currently available in both an American and British release version; the American print, with an introduction by Joseph Cotten, is slightly shorter than the British version, which is narrated by director Carol Reed. Nominated for several Academy Awards, The Third Man won Best Cinematography for Robert Krasker. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Iconic THIRD MAN as good as it gets in Blu-ray
Posted by: Cinemaniac from: Palm Springs area on
Film buffs have a reason to celebrate.
Carol Reed's "THE THIRD MAN," perhaps the most highly-regarded film in world cinema is now available in a jaw-dropping Blu-ray transfer.
This wondrous movie has never looked better and it is hard to imagine anything more that could possible be done to improve the image quality. It looks like a first viewing directly from the lab. I doubt Carol Reed ever saw it in such a pristine condition! The blacks are velvety and the grays and whites shimmer with a silvery sheen. And the retro mono sound is sharp. This ultimate edition deserves a special place in the digital library.
The plot is minimal. American pulp novelist Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton) travels to post WW II Vienna to see his friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles). But instead ends up investigating the apparent death of the black market operator in a city of fractured, shadowy loyalties. It is a tale that, on the surface, is about love, deception and murder. The dark trinity of great noir mysteries.
But it is not so much the plot that makes this remarkable film so highly-regarded but rather the extraordinary sense of time and place. Graham Greene's acerbic dialogue seduces and cuts. There's the brilliant black and white photography by Robert Krasker -- often slight askew and reminiscent of German expressionism.
Perhaps most memorable of all is the audacious zither score by Anton Karas. It perfectly frames the mood and atmosphere of this unforgettable film that somehow burns itself into one's own experience.
If the story is secondary, what is this film really "about"? Perhaps it is about being lost in a fractured landscape where old ideals and values have evaporated. Where meaning is ephemeral. It is a post-modern amorality tale awash in the frisson of deception and cynicism of our time.
But whatever the metaphor, it is a hypnotically compelling film that is much greater than the sum of it's masterful parts. Unquestionably a great film as well as art. A rare achievement indeed.
This hi-def disc is a transfer of the previous, restored, two-disc edition. The watchable bonus material –- great documentaries and archival material -- is generous (see product description). I especially enjoyed the enthusiastic and insightful commentary by Steven Soderbergh and Tony Gilroy. Film scholar Dana Polan provides a second remarkably detailed commentary.
This Blu-ray upgrade is one for the digital library.
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