Friday, April 3, 2015

The Third Man (1949)

Directed by: Carol Reed
Runtime: 104 minutes

For something completely different I decided to review something that is both classic and classy. Luckily The Third Man does not disappoint on either of those criteria and it is not another direct to dvd Dungeons and Dragons sequel.

The opening of this movie threw me as I was not expecting a happy opening. I was expecting sinister or dark music and the tension being built up. Instead the soundtrack is happy zither music and Orson Welles giving a voice over as Harry Lime. Harry demonstrates how much of a likable bastard he is by talking about Vienna (circa 1946), the black market and his contempt of the military police that patrol the four sectors of Vienna. All while showing the ugly reality of post war Vienna black market.

The movie then transitions to the train station in the American sector. Holly Martins, a unemployed pulp western writer, arrives in Vienna on the invitation of Harry Lime. He came all that way because Harry promised him a job. However, Harry is not at the station to meet him and after walking to his apartment he learns that he is just in time for Harry's funeral.

Holly arrives at the funeral just in time to see Harry's casket lowered and to meet the rest of the cast. There is Anna, Harry's lover, Dr. Winkle and Baron Kurtz, Harry's former business partners, and Major Calloway and Sgt. Paine, British Military Police. The good Major Calloway starts Holly journey of investigating Harry Lime's web by giving him a lift to the nearest bar, getting him drunk, and interrogating Holly badly. This sets Holly in motion to find out what really happened to Harry Lime.

As Holly probes into Harry's life, we learn that Harry is a complex and interesting person. We also learn that Harry is the kind of bastard that would sell watered down penicillin during a meningitis outbreak because it would up his profit margin. The more Holly learns about Harry and post war Vienna, the more confused and horrified he becomes.

Normally I would write about the rest of the plot but I rather not for two reasons. One, this is a good movie that has relevance today and is worth watching. And two, you will find at least twenty better written reviews of this film.

So yes go watch this film by all means it is a great film.

MVT: At one point Major Calloway shows Holly the mountain of evidence they have against Harry in an impressive montage. Unlike the CSI shows were all the evidence they need is half an eyelash to arrest the criminal of the week.

Make or Break: What made this movie for me was the way it slowly and subtlety builds tension. This kept me interested in the movie. As for what broke me out of the film was the dutch angles. I know a dutch angle is to show the viewer there is something wrong the actions in the scene. However, I was getting flash backs of Battlefield Earth and was waiting for something stupid to happen.

Score: 8.08 out of 10

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