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The Third Man: The Criterion Collection

Orson Welles , Joseph Cotten , Carol Reed    Unrated   DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 96.90
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The fractured Europe post-World War II is perfectly captured in Carol Reed's masterpiece thriller, set in a Vienna still shell-shocked from battle. Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) is an alcoholic pulp writer come to visit his old friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles). But when Cotton first arrives in Vienna, Lime's funeral is under way. From Lime's girlfriend and an occupying British officer, Martins learns of allegations of Lime's involvement in racketeering, which Martins vows to clear from his friend's reputation. As he is drawn deeper into postwar intrigue, Martins finds layer under layer of deception, which he desperately tries to sort out. Welles's long-delayed entrance in the film has become one of the hallmarks of modern cinematography, and it is just one of dozens of cockeyed camera angles that seem to mirror the off-kilter postwar society. Cotten and Welles give career-making performances, and the Anton Karas zither theme will haunt you. --Anne Hurley

Special Features

This 50th-anniversary DVD release of The Third Man is a perfect example of how the Criterion Collection continues to raise the bar on how a special edition should be produced. Not only did Carol Reed's classic undergo an impeccable facelift, drastically enhancing the sights and sounds of post-World War II Vienna, but the disc is also packed with pertinent extras that provide deep insight into the film. The new digital transfer was created from the restored 35mm fine-grain master positive, presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and mono soundtrack. A major element of The Third Man is its magnificent cinematography, and it is extremely satisfying to see the high-quality visual improvements. Notable extras include Peter Bogdanovich's introduction, an alternate opening voice-over by Joseph Cotton, and two radio broadcasts of The Third Man chronicling The Lives of Harry Lime. All in all, a wonderful repackaging of a true classic. --Robert Bracco

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
The Third Man is, unquestionably, one of the greatest films of all time. It is probably the greatest British film of all too. Based on a screenplay by Graham Greene, set amidst the rubble of post-war Vienna and starring Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten and Trevor Howard, this one was always going to be good. It was, for many years, regarded as the film noir to beat all others and is my favourite movie. Radical in it's cinematic concept and brilliantly shot by Robert Krasker, the film has more atmosphere than any film I have seen before or since.
It all starts with Holly Martins (Cotten), a drunkard who writes the type of books which used to be known as "penny dreadfuls", arriving in Vienna not long after the end of WWII on the promise of a job. It turns out that his prospective employer, Harry Lime (Welles), has been killed in an accident and Martins has arrived just in time for the funeral. Lime's friends soon make contact with the wayward Martins, who becomes convinced that his friend has been murdered, and eventually through a series of encounters, he winds up in the hands of the Military Police.
In the opinion of this reviewer, this is Cotten's best film and though I've never been a big fan of his, he suits the role admirably. I also believe this is Trevor Howard's finest performance. So good is Howard that there is little doubt over his conviction that Martins is wrong and the scene where all is revealled to him is a feature of the film. Orson Welles was an acting giant in anyone's terms although by this time he was almost universally regarded as box office poison. His characterisation of the psychopathic Lime has been the model for so many film baddies and in may ways is as sinister as Hannibal Lecter.
The cinematography is superb.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Da Vinci vs A Cuckoo Clock Aug. 17 2007
Format:DVD
Whether the greatness of Citizen Kane is due to Orson Welles's writing or Herman J. Mankiewicz's contribution to the screenplay has always been up for debate. The Third Man squashes this argument. On the spur of the moment, Welles comes up with one of the most memorable and brilliantly written monologues in cinema history.

Harry Lime: Don't be so gloomy. After all, it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love; they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long, Holly.

And the zither music ain't bad, either!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Edition Dec 9 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This film edition is lovingly released with other background material of interest to any 'The Third Man' enthusiast......all in glorious black and white.
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5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic movie June 20 2013
By Sarah
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Bought this used as a gift, it was in great condition, at a great price for an OOP criterion and it shipped within a week. I'm very happy!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor transfer from Criterion April 2 2000
Format:DVD
Usually reliable Criterion here does a great disservice to a classic movie. The dark mood created by Robert Krasker's famous black and white photography is wrecked by a transfer that is too bright and without the proper contrast. Those who remember the great look of this movie from seeing it in the theatre will be disappointed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Disk of a Wonderful Film July 22 2003
Format:DVD
What movie better captures the descent of the victory over the Nazis into the suspicion, paranoia, and corruption of the Cold War? The movies strange off-angle camera shots, the way the plot twists and shifts who is covering up what and why is simply wonderful. It is one of those rare movies that absolutely convinces you it is one kind of movie and ends up being another.
The always commented upon zither music does contribute mightily to the atmosphere of the film. So does the untranslated German used throughout the film. The palpable tension between the occupied Germans, the communists, and the allies is done better here than almost anywhere else. I think it helps that the film was done at the time all the post WWII occupation was actually happening and still new.
Orson Welles, Jospeh Cotten, Alia Valli, Trevor Howard, and all the rest are wonderful. And the way Criterion has done the transfer is magnificent.
There is also an intro by Peter Bogdanovich, trailers, info on how the restoration was done, some radio shows from the Third Man, and some reading of Graham Greene's treatment.
This is a great disk.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Third Man, first class entertainment March 2 2010
Format:DVD
The original B+W film with an all star cast that brings you back and ungulfs you in the real quality of movie making without special effects. A terrific piece of film history and entertainment. The score is also a classic zither recording. The second CD is full of interesting narrative and actor interviews. A real gem for anyone who appreciates superior entertainment.

Ian C., Almonte, ON
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Film Noir at its finest Feb. 7 2009
Format:DVD
I was impressed with the writing and the cinematography most of all. The shadows and repressive overall feel as we try and find out what happened to Harry Lime is incredible.

Heartily recommended.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Job!
Very well done. They sent an email confirming the order, with contact info in case there was any issue. Read more
Published on Feb. 25 2011 by ilikemovies
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Third Man" (1949)
This is one of those films that everyone thought he/she saw. This is of course because of all the popular actors and directors. Read more
Published on Aug. 26 2010 by bernie
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Film Noir,and Criterion Showcases it with quality and class!
Well,Criterion has another release triumph here with "The Third Man".Criterion is well known for its' quality and an eclectic array of films already released in its' catalogues and... Read more
Published on Sept. 7 2008 by Robert Badgley
5.0 out of 5 stars By far one of the top films ever made!
First at all , the ravishing presence of Orson Welles is felt all along this movie in such level you may well state this film was four hands directed . Read more
Published on July 12 2004 by Hiram Gomez Pardo
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the all-time great films
This was one of the very first films I purchased on DVD. I was lucky enough to see this on the big screen when it was re-released to theatres after the restoration. Read more
Published on July 7 2004 by I. Sondel
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the best ...
What can be said about a movie that has stood the test of time, in that it still has the power to move, intrigue, amuse and simply entertain the viewer even *55* years later??!! Read more
Published on June 18 2004 by Jane Freeman Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars Superior Black & White
Orson Wells got top billing in this Vienna thriller from 1949... but make no mistake, this is Joseph Cotton's movie. Read more
Published on May 21 2004 by R. Gorham
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly classic film.
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.
This film is a great movie and has remained popular to this day. Read more
Published on May 16 2004 by Ted
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