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The Third Man - Criterion Collection (2-Disc Edition) (1949)

Orson Welles , Alida Valli , Carol Reed  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (487 customer reviews)

Price: $109.99 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Orson Welles, Alida Valli, Trevor Howard, Ernst Deutsch, Joseph Cotten
  • Directors: Carol Reed
  • Format: Black & White, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: May 22, 2007
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (487 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000NOK0GM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,565 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Third Man - Criterion Collection (2-Disc Edition)" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

There have been few better movies in the history of the planet than The Third Man, and fewer still as brilliantly directed from second to second. Orson Welles played the title role, and his legend has tended to engulf the film. But it was directed by Carol Reed and written--except for a Wellesian riff on the Borgias--by Graham Greene, and the credit for this masterpiece is properly theirs. Theirs and Joseph Cotten's; for awesome as Welles is, his Citizen Kane second banana is onscreen about six times as much, and Cotten uses every minute to create one of the most distinctive--if also forlorn--of modern heroes.

You know the story. Holly Martins (Cotten), a writer of pulp Westerns and one of life's congenital third-raters, arrives in post-WWII Vienna only to learn that his old pal Harry Lime, the guy who sent him his plane ticket, is being buried. Everybody, from a cynical British cop named Calloway (Trevor Howard) to Harry's Continental knockout of a girlfriend (AlidaValli) and his sundry absurd/Euro-sinister business associates, feels that Holly should get on another plane and go home. He doesn't. Things come to light. Other deaths follow. The world lies in utter ruin.

The Third Man completed a sublime hat trick--an international critical and popular smash following upon the success of Reed's Odd Man Out ('47) and The Fallen Idol ('48). Although other filmmakers had begun to use war-ravaged Europe as a great movie set, The Third Man is so vivid in its canny mix of gray semidocumentary and insanely angular, Expressionist/Surrealist chiaroscuro that it seems to have imagined not only the postwar thriller but also postwar Europe itself singlehandedly.

What great movie moments: The throwaway details like a mourner who forgets to drop his wreath on a newly dug grave. The sly editing whereby thick-headed Sergeant Paine (Bernard Lee, once and future "M" to 007) goes on leafing through a magazine, knowing just the moment he must rise and subdue the nervy Yank who would take a punch at his boss. The way Anton Karas's legendary zither score seems to jangle in the very guy-lines of a bridge where, far below Robert Krasker's Oscar-winning camera, the Third Man calls a war council. The shadow of a dead man towering, big as Europe, over the nighttime streets of Vienna. --Richard T. Jameson

Stills from The Third Man (Click for larger image)

Product Description

Cynical pulp novelist Holly Martins arrives in shadowy Vienna to investigate the mysterious death of his old friend, black-market opportunist Harry Lime, and thus begins an ever-thickening web of love, deception, and murder that adds up to one of cinema’s most immortal treats, as well as one of its trickiest. Thanks to brilliant performances by Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, and Orson Welles; Anton Karas’s timeless, evocative zither score; Graham Greene’s razor-sharp dialogue; and Robert Krasker’s haunting deep focus shots, off-kilter angles, and dramatic use of light and shadow, The Third Man, directed by the inimitable Carol Reed, only grows in stature as the years pass.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
250 of 277 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great surrealist drama of truth and loyalth February 17, 2000
By smarmer
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
It was with great anticipation that I viewed The Third Man recently. I had last seen it nearly 25 years earlier. At the earlier viewing I was impressed with the atmospheric treatment of Vienna and the mystery surrounding Joseph Cotton's search for the truth about his friend Harry (Orson Wells). However, though I then thought of it as a very fine movie, I did not think it would rank in my top 20. Now I see what I missed as a younger person. I can also see why this film would rank as number one on a British list of greatest films of the 20th century.
The film is a surreal examination of the tension between loyalty, love, and friendship on the one hand, and truth and justice on the other. The Viennese are suffused with the cynicism of a destroyed continent and damaged culture. The British know only about the truth and justice side of the equation. The American writer of simple westerns still is naïve enough to care about friendship and truth, and follows both wherever they lead. At the same time, Carol Reed scarcely shoots a scene in which there are right angles. Nearly everything is tilted. Close-ups of faces exaggerate their features. The black and white of the film emphasizes the shadowy nature of the story and its moral underpinnings.
At first Holly Martins (Cotton) thinks he is helping his best friend, Harry Lime (Wells). At the same time he becomes Harry's rival for the woman, Anna. When Harry realizes that Holly has discovered his true evil scheme, Harry has a chance to murder Holly and make it look like an accident. What stops him? Friendship? And why does Harry accept Holly's invitation to meet? In the penultimate scene in the underground sewer tunnels, does Holly fire the final and fatal shot, or does Harry kill himself?
Read more ›
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72 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have DVD for film noir fans! July 28, 2000
Format:DVD
I have always seen inferior prints of this film until I found this Criterion DVD and I must say, it was like watching a completely different film. The crisp b&w photography has been restored to the original pristine quality and one can easily see why this film took home the Oscar for best cinematography. The sound is also superb. The DVD is loaded with extra features such as the original opening monologue to the British release (voiced by director Carol Reed), a reading of the novel by author Graham Greene, archival footage of the sewer system "police" in Vienna (which plays a significant part in the film), and numerous stills with tantalizing behind the scenes information (like the fact that Orson Welles was so put off by working in the actual sewers that he refused to return and the crew had to build a sewer set at Shepperton Studios). There are many other extras as well, actually too many to remember. Bravo to Criterion for their amazing work on this classic film!
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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok, but........ October 7, 2010
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
The Studio Canal blu ray version of the Third Man is an ok transfer--but not as good as the version released by Criterion Collection. Having purchased the Studio Canal version, and then subsequently finding a new copy of the Criterion Collection version, it is apparent that each has used a print from a different source. In regards to the Studio Canal version, I noticed some less than stellar frames near the end of the film----where Joseph Cotton is leaning at the road side, watching Alida Valli walk by. In any case, the Studio Canal version isn't bad and I wouldn't discourage its purchase. But if you love this film and want the best print available---try to locate a copy of the Criterion Collection---before they completely disappear.
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108 of 125 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Release of the Greatest British Film (BFI) April 13, 2007
Format:DVD
According to Criterion, this 2 disc release should contain:
- All-new, restored high-definition digital transfer
- Video introduction by writer-director Peter Bogdanovich
- Two audio commentaries: one by filmmaker Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Tony Gilroy, and one by film scholar Dana Polan
- Shadowing "The Third Man" (2005), a ninety-minute feature documentary on the making of the film
- Abridged recording of Graham Greene's treatment, read by actor Richard Clarke
- "Graham Greene: The Hunted Man," an hour-long, 1968 episode of the BBC's Omnibus series, featuring a rare interview with the novelist
- Who Was the Third Man? (2000), a thirty-minute Austrian documentary featuring interviews with cast and crew
- The Third Man on the radio: the 1951 "A Ticket to Tangiers" episode of The Lives of Harry Lime series, written and performed by Orson Welles; and the 1951 Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of The Third Man
- Illustrated production history with rare behind-the-scenes photos, original UK press book, and U.S. trailer
- Actor Joseph Cotten's alternate opening voice-over narration for the U.S. version
- Archival footage of postwar Vienna
- A look at the untranslated foreign dialogue in the film
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by Luc Sante, Charles Drazin, and Philip Kerr -- Also: a web-exclusive essay on Anton Karas by musician John Doe

AUDIO: Dolby Digital 1.0 signal on 5.1-channel sound systems / two-channel playback.
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57 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No wonder it tops the British Best 100 list February 26, 2000
By smarmer
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
It was with great anticipation that I viewed The Third Man recently. I had last seen it nearly 25 years earlier. At the earlier viewing I was impressed with the atmospheric treatment of Vienna and the mystery surrounding Joseph Cotton's search for the truth about his friend Harry (Orson Wells). However, though I then thought of it as a very fine movie, I did not think it would rank in my top 20. Now I see what I missed as a younger person. I can also see why this film would rank as number one on a British list of greatest films of the 20th century.
The film is a surreal examination of the tension between loyalty, love, and friendship on the one hand, and truth and justice on the other. The Viennese are suffused with the cynicism of a destroyed continent and damaged culture. The British know only about the truth and justice side of the equation. The American writer of simple westerns still is naïve enough to care about friendship and truth, and follows both wherever they lead. At the same time, Carol Reed scarcely shoots a scene in which there are right angles. Nearly everything is tilted. Close-ups of faces exaggerate their features. The black and white of the film emphasizes the shadowy nature of the story and its moral underpinnings.
At first Holly Martins (Cotton) thinks he is helping his best friend, Harry Lime (Wells). At the same time he becomes Harry's rival for the woman, Anna. When Harry realizes that Holly has discovered his true evil scheme, Harry has a chance to murder Holly and make it look like an accident. What stops him? Friendship? And why does Harry accept Holly's invitation to meet? In the penultimate scene in the underground sewer tunnels, does Holly fire the final and fatal shot, or does Harry kill himself?
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I like it
Great suspense.
Published 2 days ago by bugszy
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Wonderful spy film and wonderful mdic.
Published 3 days ago by Bernadette Hackett
5.0 out of 5 stars you are missing one of the greatest films ever made
If you haven't watched this movie, you are missing one of the greatest films ever made. This has a great cast, a great director, a great story line (one of the first movies of the... Read more
Published 10 days ago by Steven E. Goss
4.0 out of 5 stars See this before you go to Vienna
Great movie to see the cityscapes of post WWII Vienna.
Published 12 days ago by Kathleen Olsen
5.0 out of 5 stars They really don't make them like this anymore
After all of these years this movie still holds up. They really don't make them like this anymore.
Published 13 days ago by James Walker
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great acting and cinematography
Published 13 days ago by Janet A. Yoder
5.0 out of 5 stars Joseph Cotton & Orson Wells are the Best
Joseph Cotton & Orson Wells are the best. There is nothing like nostalgic black & white movies of the past with drama & fade-away-scenes that leaves it to the imagination to... Read more
Published 19 days ago by Edna R Soto
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
It wouldn't play in my DVD player.
Published 27 days ago by Katherine Beal
5.0 out of 5 stars A must see!
A must see movie for any fan or student of the film noir genre. Amazing cinematography for its time! Very suspenseful!
Published 29 days ago by Connie L Gutzmann
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic British Film Noir.
A Great movie indeed! I first saw this movie on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) some years back. I was wonderful to find it on DVD. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Udayan Mallik
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The Third Man Blu-ray Case
Criterion caught on that people hated the cardboard Digipak cases so they started releasing new titles in the plastic cases around April 2009. Older titles continue to ship in the paper cases (except The Third Man, briefly).

In the case of The Third Man, they started replacing the paper cases... Read More
Nov 12, 2009 by James Goss |  See all 4 posts
Is "The Third Man" Studio Canal Collection Blu-ray in COLOR?
it is not colorized
Format: Closed-captioned, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, Black & White
Sep 19, 2010 by nichtkomisch |  See all 3 posts
blu-ray edition coming
This forum IS for the BD edition.
Dec 15, 2008 by BubbaCoop |  See all 3 posts
Bootleg copies of "The Third Man"
Well the Criterion version is now out of print, so its no longer possible to buy it from Amazon. If you ordered the Criterion and received the StudioCanal edition, let them know and they'll probably refund you. As far as quality, the Criterion edition appears to have a better picture and arguably... Read More
Jul 12, 2011 by Quexos |  See all 2 posts
going out of print
thats why i just bought mine
Oct 28, 2009 by J. Fanning |  See all 5 posts
Voice over opening scene Be the first to reply
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