The Third Man (1949)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: This atmospheric thriller is one of the undisputed masterpieces of cinema, and boasts iconic performances from Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles.


Movie Info

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 … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Graham Greene (I), Graham Greene (II)
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 30, 1999
Runtime:
Rialto

Cast


as Holly Martins

as Anna Schmidt

as Harry Lime

as Maj. Calloway

as Baron Kurtz

as Dr. Winkle

as Sgt. Paine

as British Policeman

as Hall porter

as Anna's `Old Woman'

as Kurtz's Mother

as Porter's wife

as Winkel's Maid

as Barman at Casanova

as Hansel's Father

as Waiter at Smolka's

as Taxi Driver

as Barman at Sacher's

as Headwaiter

as Josefstadt Theatre A...

as Man Chasing Holly
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for The Third Man

All Critics (64) | Top Critics (14)

It transformed the way I looked at the world.

Full Review… | November 1, 2007
Newsweek
Top Critic

Welles gives Harry a mask of irony that turns all moral judgment back on itself. He turns a mass murderer into a wry rogue, and makes his villainy all the more horrifying because we rather like him.

Full Review… | July 21, 2005
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

Seen today, The Third Man ... can be appreciated as a prophetic statement on the eventual moral bankruptcy of the one-world euphoria that clouded men's minds immediately after the second 'war to end all wars.'

April 22, 2004
New York Observer
Top Critic

Top credit must go to Mr. Reed for molding all possible elements into a thriller of superconsequence.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

The movie's verve comes from the abstract use of a jangling zither and from squirting Orson Welles into the plot piece-meal with a tricky, facetious eyedropper.

Full Review… | August 29, 2012
The Nation

The truth is often what one least expects it to be, and the ability to cope with the seemingly unbelievable is a dividing line between Reed's characters.

Full Review… | October 14, 2011
Not Coming to a Theater Near You

Audience Reviews for The Third Man

Despite its distracting overuse of Dutch angle shots, this is a classic film noir crafted beautifully by Reed and Graham Greene (who worked on it by writing his excellent novella), with a fascinating villain, a fabulous post-war Vienna as its location and a perfect choice for a score.

blacksheepboy
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

The absolute in spy classics, and Carol Reed's best directorial effort, "The Third Man" remains one of the most interesting and politically driven films of all times. The performances are amazing, to say the least. Joseph Cotten is Holly Martins, an expatriate from America, who comes to war torn Austria to find his friend dead, his job gone, and an unraveling mystery all set up for him to solve. As Martins (a mystery novelist) starts looking into his old friend's (Welles) death, he discovers a man he desperately doesn't want to admit knowing, and a conspiracy that extends to murder. Martins is so subdued and dark that he instantly fits into the everyman facade and runs with it. Alida Valli as Anna Schmidt was intriguing as well, fighting for the man she loves but also being shocked into empathy. Anna Schmidt is one of the more complex and interesting characters of the entire film, and though her motivations are clear, she still steals the show from time to time. The plot is interesting, the suspense is taut, and the cinematography is out of this world amazing. A must see, a classic, and a thriller worth being thrilled about.

FrizzDrop
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

½

If you take away Welles it wouldn't be that memorable, and even with him, the movie is still not that memorable. What do you remember about this aside from Welles lines, the photography, and the theme song? Having trouble remembering anything else? That's because most of the story dances around a "plot twist" or discovery or whatever it is that is hardly exciting, and all too predictable (Lime is alive, duh) and our main lead is a doofus, and not exactly the charming type, just a helpless goon going around from one point to another. The switch he has at the end in his confrontation with his old friend ends up feeling like a super moralistic preachy lesson about "doing the right thing". I can see why this movie has stand the test of time, but it's merits are rather shortcoming. Not bad, just not great.

DragonEyeMorrison
Tsubaki Sanjuro

Super Reviewer

The Third Man Quotes

– Submitted by monsieur r (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Mithil B (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Emily G (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Chris P (4 years ago)

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