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  • Writer's pictureDomenic

The Third Man| Review: My Favorite Film

Updated: May 31, 2022

The Palme D'or is one of the greatest achievements a film can receive. Some of the very greatest films of all time have won it in the past, including but not limited to, La Dolce Vita, Apocalypse Now, and Taxi Driver. In 1949, the Grand Prize of the Cannes Film Festival (Palme D'or) was awarded to, the greatest receiver of them all, The Third Man. In 1950, during the Academy Awards, The Third Man took home the Oscar for Best Black and White Cinematography. Then in 1999, the BFI compiled a list of The Greatest British Films of All Time, with The Third Man reigning supreme. It's very difficult to not recognize how celebrated The Third Man has become over the years, but, why is The Third Man so celebrated?

The Third Man follows Holly Martin (Joseph Cotten), a novelist that's known for campy westerns and has recently gone broke. Holly's friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles) invited him to stay with Harry in Vienna, Austria. Most of Vienna remains in rubble, despite WW2 ending 4 years ago. Holly arrives, only to find that Harry has died. Holly attend Lime's funeral and meets Major Calloway (Trevor Howard) and Anna (Alida Valli), Harry's girlfriend. Holloway soon becomes wrapped into the reasons why Harry died, was he killed, and who was involved, while simultaneously growing a relation ship with Anna. I won't spoil the ending, since I believe it to be one of the best out there.

The Third Man really is one of the few perfect and best films of all time. Perfect in every aspect from direction to performances. Carold Reed, the director of the film, really gives it his all in every aspect. Despite not inventing, he popularized the dutch angle and has since become synonymous with the film. A theory has emerged over the years on whether or not Welles had a part in directing, due to visual similarity to The Lady from Shanghai and Citizen Kane. But, the theory gives injustice to Reed's exceptional work behind the camera. The music of the film, composed by Anton Karas, perfectly fits the action and atmosphere. I don't want to spoil the film, so I won't elaborate on some aspects of the film, but, the performances are legendary. Overall, the definitive perfect film and the best parts of cinema combined.

*Interesting Fact: The Criterion Collection released a version of the film. The version has, for some unknown reason, become an extremely rare item, with some even going for hundreds of dollars. In L.A.'s Amoeba store I managed to find a premium grade copy of it. I made the tough decision to not purchase it.

Time Stamp: May 4, 2020

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