The Third Man

Critics Consensus

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



Reviews Counted: 78

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 53,891


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 4.3/5

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Movie Info

American writer, Holly Martins, arrives in post-war Vienna to visit his old friend Harry Lime. On arrival, he learns that his friend has been killed in a street accident, but also that Lime was a black marketer wanted by the police.

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Joseph Cotten
as Holly Martins
Alida Valli
as Anna Schmidt
Orson Welles
as Harry Lime
Trevor Howard
as Maj. Calloway
Ernst Deutsch
as Baron Kurtz
Erich Ponto
as Dr. Winkle
Bernard Lee
as Sgt. Paine
Geoffrey Keen
as British Policeman
Paul Hardtmuth
as Hall porter
Hedwig Bleibtreu
as Anna's "Old Woman"
Nelly Arno
as Kurtz's Mother
Annie Rosar
as Porter's wife
Jenny Werner
as Winkel's Maid
Leo Bieber
as Barman at Casanova
Frederick Schreicher
as Hansel's Father
Eric Pohlmann
as Waiter at Smolka's
Thomas Gallagher
as Taxi Driver
Walter Hertner
as Barman at Sacher's
Martin Miller
as Headwaiter
Holga Walrow
as Josefstadt Theatre Actress
Harry Belcher
as Man Chasing Holly
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News & Interviews for The Third Man

Critic Reviews for The Third Man

All Critics (78) | Top Critics (23)

  • Krasker's camera reveals a dank, matte, defeated city - so dully vivid as to be a character unto itself - except that this Vienna becomes something altogether different seen at night or underground.

    Aug 6, 2015 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • Reed and screenwriter Graham Greene let the story unfold slowly and deliberately, like the cigarette smoke that floats around the characters, and keep us guessing at every step.

    Jul 2, 2015 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • Like many, I have loved this thriller of conscience and betrayal most of my moviegoing life.

    Jul 2, 2015 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • This is a film which does away with such cretinous inanity as offering up goodies and baddies, instead presenting its cast of characters as doing things which they believe to be good, but are not seen as such through the eyes of observers.

    Jun 26, 2015 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • "The Third Man" is important not just because of its technique but because of its theme ...

    Jun 26, 2015 | Full Review…
  • Few films more effectively capture the crumbling infrastructure and opportunistic lawlessness of postwar Europe. And none better translate the snaking treachery of Graham Greene's stories and his worlds of cynical expats and casual betrayal.

    Jun 25, 2015 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

    Wendy Ide

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Third Man

While this creepy walk through post-war Vienna may not always make sense (Joe Cotton's character argues with the cops about them having a lack of evidence when he in fact is on the light side of proof) it's moody atmospherics make for an interesting crawl through the bad side of town. I particularly liked a kid leading a mob for revenge. Worth a look.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

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.

Carlos Magalhães
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.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

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.

Tsubaki Sanjuro
Tsubaki Sanjuro

Super Reviewer

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