“The Third Man” is another film that I had never heard of. I actually watched this film at a friend’s house a couple of weeks ago without even realizing it was on my list. He had the Criterion Collection Blu-Ray and we watched it on his 100 inch screen with HD projector. I have to say, I am completely sold on the Criterion Collection Blu-Rays. These are outstanding presentations of the movies and they endeavor to remain as true to the source material as possible. On top of the incredible picture and sound quality, these Blu-Rays include a plethora of interesting and useful extra features that delve into the history of the movies graced with the Criterion treatment. There, I plugged the Criterion Collection so lets get into the review.
Should this film be considered a classic? This is a film where I can offer an enthusiastic answer in the affirmative. In fact, I would even go so far as to call this film a true masterpiece of cinema. Why? The movie is acted to perfection with everyone from the stars (Joseph Cotten, Allida Valli, Orson Welles, and Trevor Howard) characters to the smaller bit parts played to absolute perfection. The pacing of the movie is spot on with tension gradually building throughout the film right up until the famous sewer chase finale. The story is incredible as it balances light hearted moments (the opening bar scene) with weightier moments (the scene with Calloway and Martins in the hospital). Carol Reed did an outstanding job from the director’s chair of capturing a post WWII Vienna that was still recovering from the ravages of war and now facing down the growing threat of Soviet communism. When you watch the movie you can’t help but be transported to the streets of Vienna and feel sadness at how the city had been ravaged by war. The soundtrack is also a true masterpiece. Anton Karas composed the soundtrack and it features him playing the zither. The soundtrack is quirky, original, and fits this movie perfectly. Karas’ music truly transports the viewer to Vienna and makes an already great film a true work of art.
Would I own this film?I have already added it to my Amazon wish list. Unfortunately, it is out of print. I can still pick up a used copy on the Amazon market place and will probably do so sometime in the future. I highly recommend this film to anyone who enjoys great movie making. It is a truly entertaining work of art that does great job of capturing post WWII Vienna as it struggled to recover. If you have the opportunity to watch this on Blu-Ray, do it. The film looks absolutely wonderful and it is great that such effort was put into the digital transfer in order to insure that this film continues to live on for future generations of people who appreciate great cinema.