The Third Man
Special Edition, Criterion Collection
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Orson Welles stars as Harry Lime, and Joseph Cotten plays his childhood friend, Holly Martins, in this all-time classic thriller scripted by Graham Greene and directed by Carol Reed. Martins searches for Lime through the seedy underworld of postwar Vienna and gets caught up in a web of love, deception, racketeering, and murder. The Third Man's stunning cinematography, twisting plot, and unforgettable zither score are immortalized in Criterion's pristine special edition, following the 50th Anniversary theatrical re-release.
The fractured Europe post-World War II is perfectly capturedin Carol Reed's masterpiece thriller, set in a Vienna still shell-shocked from battle. Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) is an alcoholic pulp writer come to visit his old friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles). But when Cotton first arrives in Vienna, Lime's funeral is under way. From Lime's girlfriend and an occupying British officer, Martins learns of allegations of Lime's involvement in racketeering, which Martins vows to clear from his friend's reputation. As he is drawn deeper into postwar intrigue, Martins finds layer under layer of deception, which he desperately tries to sort out. Welles's long-delayed entrance in the film has become one of the hallmarks of modern cinematography, and it is just one of dozens of cockeyed camera angles that seem to mirror the off-kilter postwar society. Cotten and Welles give career-making performances, and the Anton Karas zither theme will haunt you. --Anne HurleySee all Editorial Reviews
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"The Third Man" is a film originally released in /49 in Britain to great acclaim(this is the film we see),then released a year later in the U.S.The latter market had about 11 minutes cut out of it and the opening narrative changed from director Carol Reed's voice to star Joseph Cottons'.
This two disc collection includes everything you ever wanted to know about this film,and so much more.Included is a nine minute vignette with a self explanatory title "Insiders' Info" ,the US Trailer,the UK Press Book,another small vignette translating the foreign language sequences into English with sub-titles(five min.),a /51 radio show starring Orson Welles as "Harry Lime" in "Ticket to Tangiers",a Lux Radio Theatre show from /51 of "The Third Man",an award winning documentary from 2000 called"Who was the Third Man?"(30 min),a /68 profile of Graham Greene from the BBC show "Omnibus",a three min./54 newsreel of zither player Anton Karas at London's Empress Club,another three min.Pathe newsreel of the policing of the Vienna sewers called "The Underground of Vienna",and "The Third Man's Vienna",a background vignette on the real post war Vienna that Greene brings to life in the film.To top this all off is a 26 page booklet with several articles about the making and producing of the film which are quite intriguing,along with production credits,transfer specs,cast credits and much more.
I won't go into the plot as it is very well known by most by now.I must say that I have never seen the film looking as good as it does in this release.They made a great transfer using a high grain positive master and took out thousands of extant marks,dirt,etc, to bring the B&W print gloriously back to life.It's not perfect but it is light years beyond anything I've ever seen before.I've always said that a great print can only add to ones enjoyment of a film and the proof is abundantly clear in this "pudding".
The film comes from the "Janus" collection which,as I noted in my review of Criterions'glorious release of "Pandora's Box",has been known to me as a firm that has released only countless cut and butchered films over the years.However,as I have nothing to compare films with(as I did with Pandora)I can only say that nothing appears to be amiss here so I will leave it at that.
In conclusion this is a film which belongs in every serious film collectors collection.A classic of its' genre,"The Third Man" is without doubt a very important film.Its' cast is rock solid,the script and on film atmosphere that is created through its' brilliant use of lighting and cinematography,serves to enhance the films' quality and stature.
With all the extras included,and this being a Criterion product which is ALWAYS a superior product,it is a must have DVD set.