A Shadow Is Haunting the World: International Noir

It once was praised as a sharply realistic study of American idealism crushed by European cynicism, but today it’s the extravagant falsity that entertains—from Welles’s cuckoo clock” speech to the crazy camera angles and madly expressionist lighting chosen by director Carol Reed.”

Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader

Directed by Carol Reed and scripted by Graham Greene, but dominated by the considerable presence of Orson Welles, The Third Man is one of the most entertaining of great films. Joseph Cotten is Holly Martins, a naïve American pulp-fiction writer who enters a labyrinth of crime, corruption, and cloak-and-dagger intrigue when he lands in ravaged postwar Vienna to meet old pal Harry Lime (Welles). Anton Karas’s zither score provides an inspired counterpoint to Greene’s baroque suspense tale. Welles’s performance, reuniting him with fellow Mercury Theatre player Cotten nearly a decade after Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons, as well as Robert Krasker’s extravagant, expressionist, and Oscar-winning images, make a solid case that this is a work touched by the hand of Orson. The Third Mans reputation hasn’t faded after 75 years; it climbed the most recent Sight and Sound critics’ poll to land second only to Kane in Welles’s filmography.

Glorious … Joseph Cotten’s Holly Martins may be the ultimate noir hero … When [Welles] makes his first appearance, it encapsulates all the reasons we go to the movies in the first place.”

Stephanie Zacharek, The Village Voice

Upcoming in this Series

  • Le Samourai 5
  • Le samouraï
  • France/Italy1967
  • Jean-Pierre Melville
  • 105 DCP
  • PG
  • International Noir
  • Third Man 1
  • The Third Man
  • United Kingdom1949
  • Carol Reed
  • 104 DCP
  • G
  • International Noir
  • My Heart Is That Eternal Rose 1
  • My Heart Is That Eternal Rose
  • 殺手蝴蝶夢
  • Hong Kong1989
  • Patrick Tam
  • 90 DCP
  • 18A
  • International Noir
  • Victims Of Sin 2
  • Victims of Sin
  • Víctimas del Pecado
  • Mexico1951
  • Emilio Fernández
  • 84 DCP
  • PG
  • International Noir
  • Neige 3
  • Neige
  • France1981
  • Juliet Berto, Jean-Henri Roger
  • 90 DCP
  • NR
  • International Noir