Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Third Man

The Third Man; Crime drama, UK, 1949; D: Carol Reed, S: Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Trevor Howard, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Orson Welles

Vienna after World War II. The poor American writer Martins arrives in the city since he was summoned by his old friend Lime for "some job". But once there, he discovers that Lime actually died in an accident so he finds an accommodation in a hotel. Police officer Calloway reveals him that Lime sold bad penicillin that caused many deaths, whereas Anna was his girlfriend. The porter who saw the accident say the corpse was removed by thee men, and not two as it is claimed by everyone. When Martins meets Lime alive, he realizes that everything was a scam. Him and Calloway capture and kill Lime in the sever.

Classic of film noir, "The Third Man" continued the tradition of the acclaimed genre started all the way since "The Maltese Falcon" by using an 'investigation' plot where everything is revealed only at the very end of the film. The most striking and agile part thus remained the finale in the dark sever that is inspiring in playing with lights and shadows in a narrow place influenced obviously by old German expressionistic film, but not even the sole exposition lapses a lot after quality. In it, besides an image of a corpse floating through he Danube, the narrator is slyly talking how "not everyone managed in the smuggling business". The arrival of the poor hero, a writer, to the apartment of his old friend (Orson Welles, who shows up only towards the end of the film) ends in a shock when he discovers he died, and when a police officer kicks him, he announces how he likes his books. Those are all exquisite virtues, but the film is still slightly overhyped since it's not a masterwork, but "just" an excellent film. It won the BAFTA for best film, the Grand prix in Cannes and an Oscar for best cinematography.


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