(Review originally written at 9 December 2009)

It's hard to compare an '40's thriller to the modern movies of the same genre of this present day. The movies are very different in style and todays audience demands more action, pace and sex. Yet "The Third Man" seems like one of those movies that are timeless, due to its well written mystery story, a good cast and a nice overall visual style.

The movie has most often been praised for its visual style. A true accomplishment from director Carol Reed, who has never really broken through though. He directed many more great- but lesser known movies throughout his career, that do deserve some more recognition. Perhaps it's due to the fact that he mostly stayed in England and didn't decided on going for a big Hollywood career, like many great British directors from the same era did, that he isn't that well known and his movies didn't received the appreciation they deserved.

But to me the foremost reason this movie being timeless is its great story. It's a real typical mystery/thriller story, that has a couple of twists and turns to it. It's unlike for instance the film-noir movies from the same era, that were somewhat more or less being the 'normal' mystery/thriller movies of those days. You could perhaps say that "The Third Man" is in that regard already being a more modern movie.

The movie often puts its emphasis on its style and then mostly its cinematography. I don't think I have ever seen so many Dutch tilts in one movie but it really works out well for the movie its atmosphere, that tries to be a bit of an uneasy one, for its main character to feel himself alienated in the for him unknown big town, filled with many different nationalities and languages that he doesn't speak or understand at all.

The Vienna after the second world war serves as a great backdrop for this movie its story. After WW II the town got divided into different sectors, all ruled by different nations. It was before the cold war, so here we have British, Americans, Russians and French authorities all cooperating in the international zone to solve the movie its mystery. It at times has a surreal and odd feeling to it but even at the time of the production of this movie was still being a fact.

The movie also really has some great acting in it. The movie does at times seems a bit dodgy with its accents, I mean it's obvious that some of the cast members weren't some native German speakers. Joseph Cotten plays a good main character but to me it was really Orson Welles who played the greatest role. He was such a fine actor, in basically every movie he ever appeared in. His acting-style in a way seemed to be decades ahead of its time. Perhaps a bit too much for its town, or otherwise he would had most likely been nominated more often for any awards for it.

A great mystery movie, with an early thriller atmosphere.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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