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The Third Man

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

United Kingdom


1h 45m

Director Carol Reed

Starring Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles, Trevor Howard

Genre Thriller, Mystery

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Holly Martins, a writer of pulp Westerns, arrives penniless in postwar Vienna. His childhood friend Harry Lime promised him a job—but Harry is dead. Holly grows suspicious after learning of a "third man" present at the death. His investigation is met with interference, not least from Harry’s beautiful and grief-stricken lover, Anna.


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Lily Bradfield Profile picture for Lily Bradfield

Such an iconic classic, and for good reason. This film gets better every single time I watch it—the stark and shadowed cinematography gives this Reed film the perfect edge it needs. Orson Welles is wonderfully eery in this as well, and the pacing keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time.

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Variety by

Supporting characters turn in excellent portrayals. Camera work on an exceptionally high plane, and in his painstaking direction Carol Reed lives up to his high reputation.

Salon by Andrew O'Hehir

What has perhaps been lost over the years, however, is the cultural freshness and vitality of Reed’s masterpiece...The Third Man is important not just because of its technique but because of its theme.

The New York Times by Bosley Crowther

Mr. Reed has brilliantly packaged the whole bad of his cinematic tricks, his whole range of inventive genius for making the camera expound. His eminent gifts for compressing a wealth of suggestion in single shots, for building up agonized tension and popping surprises are fully exercised. His devilishly mischievous humor also runs lightly through the film, touching the darker depressions with little glints of the gay or macabre. [3 Feb 1950, p.29]

Empire by Ian Nathan

The Third Man finally endures because it offers a simple thing that so many modern films neglect: the power of story...Revolutionary film noir with a clutch of stunning central turns.

Portland Oregonian by Jeff Baker

It's an exciting experience, dazzling and entertaining and thought-provoking. I saw it at Cinema 21 last week and immediately wanted to see it again. I couldn't, so I started researching and read everything I could about it. It's truly great.

Chicago Tribune by Michael Phillips

A triumph of disparate tones, colors and intentions. Like many, I have loved this thriller of conscience and betrayal most of my moviegoing life...Its brand of romantic fatalism is particularly seductive to teenage males, I think, and those who never fully recover from that moviegoing state of being.