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#6 of 9 from The Incomprable Orson Welles by
“Carol Reed's 1949 film-noir "The Third Man" is Reed's greatest work, and probably Orson Welle's second greatest acting role of his career! This is not an idle boast considering
#6 of 9 from The creative genius of Orson Welles by
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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.

There have been few better movies in the history of the planet thanThe Third Man, and fewer still as brilliantly directed from second to second. Orson Welles played the title role, and his legend has tended to engulf the film. But it was directed by Carol Reed and written--except for a Wellesian riff on the Borgias--by Graham Greene, and the credit for this masterpiece is properly theirs. Theirs and Joseph Cotten's; for awesome as Welles is, hisCitizen Kanesecond banana is onscreen about six times as much, and Cotten uses every minute to create one of the most distinctive--if also forlorn--of modern heroes.

You know the story. Holly Martins (Cotten), a writer of pulp Westerns and one of life's congenital third-raters, arrives in post-WWII Vienna only to learn that his old pal Harry Lime, the guy who sent him his plane ticket, is being buried. Everybody, from a cynical British cop named Calloway (Trevor Howard) to Harry's Continental knockout of a girlfriend (AlidaValli) and his sundry ...

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Details

Director: Carol Reed
Genre: Film-Noir, Mystery, Thriller
Release Date: 31 August 1949 (UK)
Screen Writer: Graham Greene
DVD Release Date: November 16, 1999
Runtime: 104 min
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"Harry (sub)Lime!"
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