A new review from The Movie Snob.
The Third Man (A). A local theater is showing a series of classic movies on Tuesday nights, and this past Tuesday I checked out this 1949 film noir. After seeing a “classic movie,” I usually think, “Oh, that was nice,” or “Oh, that was interesting.” This is the first time I can remember thinking, “Wow, that was an awesome movie.” When the film opens, an American hack novelist named Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten, Citizen Kane) is arriving in post-WWII Vienna, which is a divided city much like Berlin. He has come at the invitation of an old friend, Harry Lime, but it turns out he is just in time for Lime’s funeral after a fatal traffic accident. A British officer tells Martins that Lime was mixed up in some unsavory business and urges him to return to America at once, but Martins decides to poke around and see if Lime’s death was really an accident. He is quickly entranced by Lime’s lover, a beautiful actress named Anna (Alida Valli, Suspiria, who reminded me a lot of Vivien Leigh), and his suspicions about Lime’s death are aroused further as he interviews the few witnesses to the accident. Can Martins get to the bottom of the mystery without meeting a similar accident of his own? What will happen with Martins and Anna? I was thoroughly engrossed. Roger Ebert included The Third Man in his 2002 book The Great Movies, and he remarked, “Of all the movies I have seen, this one most completely embodies the romance of going to the movies.” Awfully high praise, but I can see why he said it. If you like movies, you owe to yourself to see The Third Man.