How presumptuous of me. I didn’t realize how classic this film was when I decided to watch it for a review. How does one review an acknowledged work of art? What more could I add to the conversation but my own ignorance? Academic papers have been written about this movie. In contrast, I have no credentials or expertise. I have never been employed as a film critic. This film, and its potential viewers, do not need me to affirm that it is indeed an indispensable piece of cinematic history. Were I to point out flaws or even offer gentle criticism, it could be dismissed out of hand as the scribblings of an amateur. That’s how good The Third Man is.
Directed by Carol Reed, The Third Man is an adaptation of the novella by the same name by Graham Greene, who also wrote the screenplay. In the film, Joseph Cotten plays Holly Martins, a down on his luck writer of cheap Western novels. He arrives in post-war Vienna, 1949, after receiving a message from an old friend, Harry Lime (Orson Welles), offering employment. Being only a few years since the close of the war, Vienna is still an occupied city, divided into four sectors run by the Americans, Russians, British, and French. Its streets are clear and clean, but there is nary a block to be seen that doesn’t have a pile of rubble or the shell of a building — the remains of the Allied bombing campaign. Continue reading “Empty Balcony: The Third Man”