thought and direction in this film is simply amazing; the opening credits
show us a zither playing a tune, but we don't see who's playing it.
Who is the jovial black marketer? Who narrates the opening montage,
and then vanishes from the film?
Third Man is that rare film - perfect in every way, a popular narrative
entertainment capable of holding great moral, artistic, philosophical,
but most importantly, emotional weight. Joseph Cotten gives one of the
greatest male lead performance in all cinema. I know, I know, Orson
Welles is great but for me, despite the plaudits – it’s
about that girl - Alida Valli. Could you not just die for her, her accent
wasn’t deliberate she genuinely struggled though those lines.
But she’s up there (for this singular role) with Vivien Leigh
as one of most affecting female performances of all time -we love her
and hate her, because she's the unrequited love to end all unrequited
loves. Great support to from the every faithful Trevor Howard as he
connives to get Cotten to supply him with the necessary information.
The movie is incredibly bleak - about people, about art, but it doesn't
seem that way. The whole thing plays like a Nabokovian black comedy
(Harry Lime IS Humbert Humbert) - genuine terror frequently slips into
farce, and vice versa. The closure of the 'male' detective story is
confounded by the hero's lack of progress in the romantic plot. Despite
the film's cynicism, I was in tears when it ended, my ethics torn to
As a note of interest - some recent films (The Living Daylights for
example) borrows elements such as the old friendships, the fake death,
the ferris wheel, a performing girlfriend with forged papers and even
the ‘Ein Balloon mein Herr’? Coincidence or was Bernard
Lee destined to play M?