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The Third Man (1949)

tomatometer

100

Average Rating: 9.1/10
Reviews Counted: 60
Fresh: 60 | Rotten: 0

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

100

Average Rating: 8.3/10
Critic Reviews: 13
Fresh: 13 | Rotten: 0

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

audience

94

liked it
Average Rating: 4.3/5
User Ratings: 48,998

My Rating

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

Unrated,

Mystery & Suspense, Classics

Graham Greene (I)

Nov 30, 1999

Selznick

Watch It Now

Cast

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All Critics (63) | Top Critics (14) | Fresh (60) | Rotten (0) | DVD (28)

It transformed the way I looked at the world.

November 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Newsweek
Newsweek
Top Critic IconTop 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.

July 21, 2005 Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop 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 IconTop Critic

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

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

For lovers of film noir, The Third Man is unquestionably a must-see -- one of the masterpieces of a genre that has contained everything from milestone motion pictures to low-budget potboilers.

August 29, 2002 Full Review Source: ReelViews
ReelViews
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Third Man is like the exhausted aftermath of Casablanca.

January 17, 2002 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop 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.

August 29, 2012 Full Review Source: The Nation
The Nation

As powerful and original now as it was in 1949.

January 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

One of British cinema's most enduring and atmospheric thrillers. A genuine and endlessly rewatchable classic.

April 20, 2009 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

Directors like Reed and Wilder created an environment of spatial and moral confusion in which their pulpy narratives could take on the ethical weight of a Biblical proverb.

December 16, 2008 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Greene's story and screenplay, which he accurately described as "a comic thriller," is a gift that keeps on giving, with patter that's never less than brilliant. [Criterion Blu-ray]

December 14, 2008 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

If The Third Man is a tragedy, it isn't just the tragedy of a hobbled city, scribbled with ruins and parsed into zones of occupation that can't communicate and don't cooperate.

September 13, 2008 Full Review Source: Nick's Flick Picks
Nick's Flick Picks

As you watch the film, you feel as though the screen is tilted higher, glowering over you as you wince in its devastating presence, which is probably how Martins felt scurrying through the Vienna darkness.

July 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Arizona Daily Star
Arizona Daily Star

It's a suspense-thriller-romance steeped in Hollywood's best influences and 'gimmicks,' yet it's crafted with enough looming European 'art-house' style to topple Fritz Lang into an existential funk.

May 29, 2007 Full Review Source: DVDJournal.com
DVDJournal.com

This will haunt you.

September 23, 2006 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

An iconic film noir that's still fresh despite being familiar.

August 15, 2006 Full Review Source: BBC

An undisputed masterpiece, this movie captures the mood of Vienna in post-WWII like no other, and is also a testimony to film as a collaborative art, benefiting from Greene's writing, Reed's direction, and stellar cast with Orson Welles at his scariest

July 28, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Do herói fragilizado e patético ao fascinante vilão, passando pela fotografia inesquecível, a trilha surpreendente e uma Viena inigualável, o filme é simplesmente perfeito.

October 2, 2004 | Comment (1)
Cinema em Cena

The Third Man isn't an eager crowd-pleaser, but it's great. The film is distinctly British, with a wonderfully bizarre zither score by Anton Karas.

August 4, 2004
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

Is it perfect? Maybe the answer has more to do with semantics than film craft; it's at least indistinguishable from flawlessness.

June 8, 2004

A monumental arty thriller of British noir.

February 4, 2004 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

This handsomely shot black-and-white thriller hasn't aged one bit. Terrific writing, direction and acting never go out of style.

December 29, 2003
Nitrate Online

About as close to a perfect film as you're likely to get.

December 4, 2003 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Audience Reviews for The Third Man

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.
March 2, 2014
FrizzDrop

Super Reviewer

It's difficult not to be captivated by this outstanding film-noir.

Full review at themoviefreakblog.com on 11/28
November 24, 2012
spielberg00

Super Reviewer

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.
June 22, 2012
DragonEyeMorrison
Tsubaki Sanjuro

Super Reviewer

A novelist investigates the suspicious death of his friend in Vienna.
A masterpiece in noir stylistic tricks with its layered mystery, shadowy shots, and ever-present dutch low angles, this film is a delight for the eyes. Each shot is reminiscent of the best of the old black and white noirs, especially the film's final shot; men just look better with fedoras and cigarettes.
Occasionally hard to follow, the plot is well-crafted, full of a few unexpected twists, and it's a pity that Orson Welles's fantastic performance is so short; the film comes alive when he's on the screen.
Overall, this is a wonderful popcorn film and a classic of its genre.
May 9, 2012
hunterjt13
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

    1. Harry Lime: In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed. They producedd Michaelangelo, da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock.
    – Submitted by rick b (2 years ago)
    1. Anna Schmidt: Honest, Sensible Holly martins. Holly. What a silly name!
    – Submitted by Mithil B (2 years ago)
    1. Harry Lime: Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.
    – Submitted by Emily G (2 years ago)
    1. Harry Lime: In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, and they had 500 years of democracy and peace. And what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
View all quotes (4)

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Foreign Titles

  • Der dritte Mann (DE)
  • Le Troisième homme (FR)
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