The Third Man

8.11 h 44 min1949X-RayALL
Carol Reed's timeless classic, one of the greatest British films, lavishly marries a perfect script, an unforgettable theme tune and the star power of Orson Welles.
Carol Reed
Joseph CottenAlida ValliOrson Welles
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Trevor Howard
Carol Reed
London Film Productions
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4.5 out of 5 stars

2762 global ratings

  1. 74% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 14% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 6% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 2% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 4% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Wayne KleinReviewed in the United States on November 29, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
Great movie mediocre transfer-get the 2015 reissue (UK) which is region free.
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A classic film with a lot of rumor around the production (for example the myth that Welles directed his own scenes; I don’t doubt he tried to direct his scenes but it’s all Reed) and an outstanding example of collaboration, “The Third Man” remains a pivotal film on the filmography of all participants.

Simon Callow’ s multi-part biography of Welles does a good job pf summarizing the production (and he provides an excellent commentary track with the late Bond director Guy Hamilton who worked on the film as an AD) as do the other special features on the 2010 release.

The 2010 Blu ray isn’t horrible but it IS inferior to what came before AND after. Criterion’s Blu-Ray featured a nicely nuanced restoration. This 2010 edition is sloppy by comparison; blacks aren’t solid, contrast is a problem at times and there’s a considerable amount of debris visible in some sequences. The other issue is the overuse of digital noise reduction often used to eliminate excessive grain (grain management). It’s overuse here indicated a problem that persisted during early mastering for high def. Audio is also considerably inferior with dialog occasionally lost in the presentation.

The 2015 reissue from Studio Canal (not issue in the U.S. from Lion’s Gate) is better and closer in all areas (and surpassing in some) the Criterion. The 2015 (which has a different cover and is ONLY available as a region free Blu-Ray) uses a still from the film as it’s primary cover and is in black & white. The 4K restoration blows away the 2010 Blu-ray. Likewise, audio sounds considerably better.

The special features are carried over from the 2010. If you are looking for an upgrade (and are unwilling to wait for a UHD 4K release) , the import 2015 IS the version to get besting the Criterion in some areas and blowing away the more murky presentation of the 2010.
40 people found this helpful
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United States on March 20, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
it reassures me a bit about humanity that so many people understand what a terrific movie this is
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In a dark time in America, it reassures me a bit about humanity that so many people understand what a terrific movie this is. Some good reviews below. I'd like to add a couple of points. First, the presence of Orson Welles. Carol Reed was a marvelous director, as you can see in any number of films--try Odd Man Out. But this film is unlike his others in many ways, especially visually. Welles is on the screen, I read, for five minutes. He was present on the set for a week. Yet it's as if Welles's personality as a filmmaker was so powerful that it bent another great director, Carol Reed, in his direction. It's the most Wellesian film I know not directed by Orson Welles. He wrote and improvised a few lines in the immortal Riesenrad scene. But somebody asked Welles if the inspired final scene was his idea and he said, no, he was there that day but that was entirely Reed. Actually it was Reed and David O. Selznick overriding the happy ending that Graham Greene originally wrote. Later Greene admitted that they were absolutely right.

Second, Reed's stunning conception to have the whole score done by a zither player, a middleaged musician named Alex Karas who'd struggled along for years and whom Reed happened to hear in Vienna. Apparently Reed would show Karas scenes and just say, in effect, "play stuff." In the process Karas created what became a popular standard, the "Third Man Theme," and got nicely rich. I think it's the most original "score" in the history of film, at least until Kubrick's 2001. Some people commenting on the film below were puzzled by it, and I can see why. It took me several viewings to figure out why this music is so apt. (Actually I know Vienna well.) On the surface the music is bubbly and gay, but it's a heavy, fraught gaiety. This music reminds me of an old Viennese saying: "The situation is desperate, but not serious." There's an old device in music called counterpoint, in which melodies are superimposed. Karas's zither music is the stunning counterpoint to a very dark story (though not without some subtle comedy). I don't know of anything else like it.
126 people found this helpful
RDDReviewed in the United States on November 7, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Timeless Classic!
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Carol Reed's "The Third Man," with a script by Graham Greene, is a noir thriller set in post-World War II Vienna, which was divided into four zones for each of the Allies at that time. Holly Martins (played by Joseph Cotten) arrives in the city based with a job offer from his friend Harry Lime, who just died the previous day. Martins believes the events surrounding the death suspicious and begins to investigate them, leading him to run afoul of the local military authorities and the criminal underworld.
The story itself is fairly standard for a mystery, but the Viennese setting and the harsh black-and-white's of cinematographer Robert Krasker coupled with Anton Karas's Zither score build an atmosphere all their own that completely draws the viewer into the story. The chase sequence through the elaborate sewers under the city and the scenes in and around the cemetery are perfect uses of blocking and framing to tell a story. Though this film debuted in 1949 and its twists and turns are available online, the film still succeeds in drawing in the audience and surprising them. If you haven't seen this, you must watch it!
34 people found this helpful
joel wingReviewed in the United States on March 3, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
One of the greatest movies ever made!
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I first saw The Third Man in college in a film class and I’ve been in love with it ever since.

It has such a simple beginning. There’s a song being played on a zither, which will return again and again in the film. It’s funny because co-producer David O. Selznick, of Gone with the Wind fame, threatened to not release the movie if that song was used thinking it would never sell in America.

The plot was based upon a Graham Greene book and he wrote the screen play as well. Greene was inspired by his relationship with the famous KGB spy Kim Philby who he worked with in British intelligence during WWII. The hero Holly Martins played by Joseph Cotton is naïve and well-meaning as Greene felt about himself early on in his life during the war and the villain Harry Lime played by Orson Wells is cunning and manipulative and represents Philby who betrayed Greene’s trust.

The start of the film introduces the viewer to the setting, Vienna, Austria, just after World War II. The city would play an important role in the story, being as much a character as the actual actors with the war damage, its dark streets, and the sewers which would be in the climax. Since it was right after the war there was a black market, and there was murder. The first is important as well as nearly everyone in the movie is a schemer trying to survive in the postwar era. That actually made the movie a flop in Austria as the natives felt the Third Man was an insult to their country. In later years, some in Vienna came to embrace it as there is a Third Man museum, a tour of the sewers, and the movie is played there every day at a movie theater.

Into this fray comes the lead character Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton). He’s a babe in the woods compared to everyone he meets. He’s looking for his friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles) who at first is declared dead. Working the case are the British military led by Major Calloway (Trevor Howard). Along the way Martins falls for Lime’s girlfriend Anna (Alida Valli). What you get is part detective movie, part love story, part grafters.

The filming and production is incredible. Half the movie is shot in angles to portray what an upside down world the actors are in. The shadows and shade are also highlighted like a great film noir even though this isn’t part of that genre. The producers had to use huge amounts of lighting to create the contrasts on black and white film. They also watered down all the streets in the night scenes to give extra shine to the shots. Those all come together in the chase scene in the end that was filmed in Vienna’s drainage system.

If you want to watch great film making watch The Third Man.
11 people found this helpful
EricReviewed in the United States on March 31, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Plays perfectly on Region A/1 consoles!
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Just wanted to confirm that this does play in Region A or Region 1. I own the Studio Canal version of The Third Man, the 4K restoration. It says on the back, that it's only playable in Region B. However, I'm playing it on my Xbox One S, which I purchased in New York, just fine. This is the standard version, not the limited.

All the extras are viewable as well. The subtitles and dubtitles are in English, French, and Dutch for both the film and extras. On, it says this version is region free. I purchased this from OxfordshireEngland for about $18, via

As for the film itself, it's one of the best of all time. If you consider yourself a film lover, you owe it to yourself to watch this film. I'm not a technical expert, but the 4K restoration looks and sounds great. Perhaps there's an Ultra High-Definition version down the line, hopefully? Please let me know if you have any questions about this Blu-ray.

Update on March 31st, 2017: The movie also plays fine on my PlayStation 3, which I also bought in New York. I don't know about the extras.
32 people found this helpful
Glenn M. WishonReviewed in the United States on January 13, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
The Ferris wheel is still there.
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We rented this movie just before leaving for Vienna. We rode the Ferris wheel and marveled at the restoration and vibrancy of the area compare to the devastation represented in the movie. Very Noir film with great performances by Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton and Trevor Howard. Spooky cinematography, and of course, that theme music!
19 people found this helpful
jartwoReviewed in the United States on May 17, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Have they ever really gotten any better than this??....uhh...Nope!
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Carol Reed's portrayal of the moral morass present in Europe in the first few years after WWII is not laid on as dour from the beginning at all really. In fact it's a cordial, engraved invitation for us to approach the subject in Reed's own highly palatable form. In the opening we are treated as an 'old friend' by the introductory narrator and, while discretely acknowledging its presence, Reed does not attempt to salaciously shock us with its brutality. He instead leads us into the story with grace, some charm and wit and with subtle insights, even within the first few minutes, into the plainly 'human' nature of these characters. Many of the insights along the way are amusing - presented dryly, but not overly so, while others are profoundly affecting. We might laugh or empathize at times, but we might also see something of ourselves in their foibles, even as we do so. And all this focus on human nature might be ineffectual if the filmmakers and writers themselves didn't know and appreciate a thing or two about Our human nature, too. And, off to a terrific start, we find ourselves in quite capable hands...which never falters throughout the film. Entertaining, heartfelt and inspired in all the right (classic) ways.

The bar was set high here, perhaps it's never been set higher. One of my favorite films of all time. It's an astonishingly modern 'fairy tale' - the lure of friendship and loyalty on one side and those of civic responsibility and duty on the other. An equally astonishing musical score - itself nothing 'more' than one man playing a zither - but what an almost unspeakably fantastic impact on the film this one man has (Anton Karas).

I purchased the "StudioCanal Collection" bluray. It is full-frame (1.33), 105-min. run time and there is no mention at all on the packaging of things like "4k" or "restoration". However, upon first setting eyes on this disc, it was clear to me that it might as well have said so. It looks to me to be an unusually good print, that (unless I miss my guess) has almost certainly been restored. I could tell that a dark spec or two were missed perhaps, but they were not intrusive by any means. There were one or two examples of mild stains that resemble what happens to film with exposure to temperature extremes, but they were easily overlooked as well...I'm being as picky as I can here, you'd scarcely notice this stuff unless you go looking for it, as I did. No real unsteadiness in projection, hairs in the gate or anything else...all in all, a print that is in amazingly great shape for its 70-yr vintage - I've not yet seen a bluray of this film that was labeled as "restored" (4k-mastered or otherwise), but this is by Far the best I've ever seen this film look or sound.

Unreservedly recommended!
10 people found this helpful
Paul MorelReviewed in the United States on June 8, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Third Man..... who is he??
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A great film. The morally dead post-war world is presented in post facets that are disturbing and electrifying. Orson Welles at his most dynamic, and Joseph Cotton in a role as a writer of westerns gets more and more eerie as the film proceeds. I cannot imagine a better cast, and if there are doubts about Alida Valli, put them out of your mind..a spell-binding portrayal of someone who cannot find any equivalent center of self in her life.

Great art..
29 people found this helpful
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