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The Third Man

1h 33m Film-Noir, Mystery, Thriller 1949

One of the greatest British films, Carol Reed’s classic very consciously emphasises its time and place - post-war Vienna - yet its resonant themes around loss of innocence and a fall from grace render it timeless. Joseph Cotten plays the writer searching the Austrian capital for his missing friend, Harry Lime. He’s disturbed to discover that Lime recently died, but soon begins to doubt the official version of events.

Graham Greene’s peerless script borrows its pessimistic outlook from American Film Noir, but manages to balance its cynicism with wit and pathos. Containing many celebrated sequences, including its sewer-set finale and Orson Welles’ iconic onscreen entrance, the film also boasts one of the most memorable theme tunes in all cinema; the puckish zither score by the then unknown Anton Karas, whom Reed discovered in a bar.


Joseph Cotten (Holly Martins) , Alida Valli (Anna Schmidt) , Orson Welles (Harry Lime)


Carol Reed