Reviews - The Third Man
The Third Man
Reviewed By John Porter
As the plot unfolds in a lattice of shadows, the alleyways and piazzas are twisted into a strange, almost deserted landscape of complex friendships and strained moralites. From the off-kilter cinematography and bizarre zither score through the conflicting tales of death and survival, Reed weaves a labyrinth of half-truths and confusions, both stylistically and within his narrative. Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) is an American hack writer arriving in town to discover that his old friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles) has died in what appears to be a well choreographed accident.
However the mystery is never merely a simple mystery of plot, deepening into one of character, namely that of Lime. Hearing of the man’s deeds through the accounts of others, whether it be his girlfriend, schoolmate, business partner, or nemesis, crafts Lime's figure as one closer to the position of myth than reality. 'Creating' Harry Lime in this way is then followed through to a beautifully realised climax as he is revealed to be still alive: A single shaft of light thrown through shadow from a high window across the face of Orson Welles. And what is Noir if not painting with light and dark? The simplicity and subtle restraint of Reed's technique in this moment, coupled with the sly, boyish grin of Welles sums up the essence of the movie.
The Third Man falls as a prime example of the classic Noir, yet always slightly adrift from the American bulk of the genre. It is urban, yet not familiarly; its deeds are often brutal, yet the atmosphere and characters hold an aching romanticism and pathos. Below the physical beauty of the film, real emotional conflicts drive the story to its conclusion: Fingers moving like grass through a sewer grate, and a woman walking through falling leaves past a man who has killed both her lover and his best friend.
Find A Film
Search over 1050 films in the Keswick Film Club archive.
Keswick Film Club has won the following British
Federation of Film Societies awards:
Best Website 2008
Best Website 2007
Film Society of The Year 2006
Best Programme 2005
Best Programme 2004
Best Programme 2002
Best Programme 2001
Best New Film Society 2000
plus 7 Distinctions and 4 Commendations
See All Awards
Links Explore the internet with Keswick Film Club