“Film noir” may be a French term and many of the best-known movies of the genre may have been made in the US of A. But The Third Man is not only a British film noir, but is considered one of the greatest films of all time. A word of warning: this review contains spoilers.
An American pulp fiction writer, Holly Martins (played by Joseph Cotton) comes to Vienna seeking a job offered by his old friend, Harry Lime (played by Orson Welles) who Martins learns is dead. At the funeral, Martins meets two of Britain’s finest: Sergeant Paine (Bernard Lee, aka, M in the early Bond movies), one of Martins’ fans; and his boss, Major Calloway (Trevor Howard), who tells him Lime was dirty and suggests he leave Vienna.
The bottom line is that, while pursuing various theories about Lime’s life and death, Martins manages to meet all sorts of people from Lime’s circle, including his girlfriend, who’s in town courtesy of a forged passport.
Eventually (after dealing with several threatening situations), Martins discovers Lime is alive and well, dealing in black market penicillin.
The movie is notable not only for the “ins and outs” of its various plot twists, but for its cinematography, quite obviously influenced by the German expressionist school of film.
Lime’s reveal is one of the best-known sequences in cinema history.
The same is true for Lime’s meeting with Martins on a Ferris Wheel.
And his final scenes, which express the claustrophobic and trapped feeling of the noir universe in the story and unforgettable images.
Every bit the classic of any Hollywood movie, I give this film two thumbs up!
PS: Here’s a video about the film I made for educational purposes.