The Third Man (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, black-market opportunist Harry Lime and thus begins this legendary tale of love, deception, and murder. Thanks to brilliant performances by Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, and Orson Welles; Anton Karas s evocative zither score; Graham Greene s razor-sharp dialogue; and Robert Krasker s dramatic use of light and shadow, The Third Man, directed by the inimitable Carol Reed, just continues to grow in stature as the years pass.
BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES:
Restored high-definition digital transfer
Uncompressed mono soundtrack
Video introduction by writer-director Peter Bogdanovich
Two audio commentaries: one by filmmaker Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Tony Gilroy, and one by 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
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by Luc Sante
Stills from The Third Man (Click for larger image)
- Aspect Ratio : 1.33:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : s_medNotRated NR (Not Rated)
- Product Dimensions : 6.5 x 5.25 x 0.25 inches; 3.2 Ounces
- Director : Carol Reed
- Media Format : Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Black & White, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Special Edition, Widescreen
- Run time : 1 hour and 33 minutes
- Release date : December 16, 2008
- Actors : Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Trevor Howard, Bernard Lee
- Producers : Alexander Korda, Carol Reed, David O. Selznick
- Studio : Criterion
- ASIN : B001EP8EKS
- Writers : Alexander Korda, Carol Reed, Graham Greene, Orson Welles
- Number of discs : 1
- Best Sellers Rank: #163,630 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Second, Reed's stunning conception to have the whole score done by a zither player, a middleaged musician named Alex Karas who'd struggled along for years and whom Reed happened to hear in Vienna. Apparently Reed would show Karas scenes and just say, in effect, "play stuff." In the process Karas created what became a popular standard, the "Third Man Theme," and got nicely rich. I think it's the most original "score" in the history of film, at least until Kubrick's 2001. Some people commenting on the film below were puzzled by it, and I can see why. It took me several viewings to figure out why this music is so apt. (Actually I know Vienna well.) On the surface the music is bubbly and gay, but it's a heavy, fraught gaiety. This music reminds me of an old Viennese saying: "The situation is desperate, but not serious." There's an old device in music called counterpoint, in which melodies are superimposed. Karas's zither music is the stunning counterpoint to a very dark story (though not without some subtle comedy). I don't know of anything else like it.
The story itself is fairly standard for a mystery, but the Viennese setting and the harsh black-and-white's of cinematographer Robert Krasker coupled with Anton Karas's Zither score build an atmosphere all their own that completely draws the viewer into the story. The chase sequence through the elaborate sewers under the city and the scenes in and around the cemetery are perfect uses of blocking and framing to tell a story. Though this film debuted in 1949 and its twists and turns are available online, the film still succeeds in drawing in the audience and surprising them. If you haven't seen this, you must watch it!
Simon Callow’ s multi-part biography of Welles does a good job pf summarizing the production (and he provides an excellent commentary track with the late Bond director Guy Hamilton who worked on the film as an AD) as do the other special features on the 2010 release.
The 2010 Blu ray isn’t horrible but it IS inferior to what came before AND after. Criterion’s Blu-Ray featured a nicely nuanced restoration. This 2010 edition is sloppy by comparison; blacks aren’t solid, contrast is a problem at times and there’s a considerable amount of debris visible in some sequences. The other issue is the overuse of digital noise reduction often used to eliminate excessive grain (grain management). It’s overuse here indicated a problem that persisted during early mastering for high def. Audio is also considerably inferior with dialog occasionally lost in the presentation.
The 2015 reissue from Studio Canal (not issue in the U.S. from Lion’s Gate) is better and closer in all areas (and surpassing in some) the Criterion. The 2015 (which has a different cover and is ONLY available as a region free Blu-Ray) uses a still from the film as it’s primary cover and is in black & white. The 4K restoration blows away the 2010 Blu-ray. Likewise, audio sounds considerably better.
The special features are carried over from the 2010. If you are looking for an upgrade (and are unwilling to wait for a UHD 4K release) , the import 2015 IS the version to get besting the Criterion in some areas and blowing away the more murky presentation of the 2010.
Top reviews from other countries
There are splendid touches - notably, for me, the parts played by a small boy and a tiny kitten but It is the photography and the lighting, and the wonderful scenery of post-war Vienna which define the film's - and the director's genius. (I don't know how they managed to shoot so many scenes in completely deserted streets!)
If you are young, take a chance and you will not regret it. If you are old, like me, you will delight in the visual and atmospheric quality of the experience: and it will be strangely familiar to anyone who lived through the last war and the aftermath of bombed-out streets and derelict architecture.
My only complaint is the cover art, which is pretty unimaginative and completely leaves poor Joseph Cotten out. For me he is the real heart of the picture, and it's too bad his buddy Orson always gets the credit.