Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Carol Reed’s ‘The Third Man’ is technically a milestone film in many ways and that’s why its entry is permanently locked in one of the best film noir ever made. There’s no doubt that Reed achieved remarkable result on every front- Graham Greene for writing original screenplay, brilliant casting and performances, flawless and gritty editing and extraordinary camerawork.

Movie begins with Holly Martins, a penniless American pulp novelist came to visit his old friend Harry who’s going to offer him a job. Surprisingly after arrival he came to know that Lime got dead by accident just few minutes ago and he was a big racketeer. He met a stranger claiming Lime’s friend, a young theater actress who visited the funeral and soon investigated that there’s three men who witnessed the accident and had seen Harry dying. He knew the two men but the third man remains a big mystery.

I think Joseph Cottten is one of the finest genuine and natural actor of that era. He’s finely supported by Trevor Howard and Italian actress Alida Valli and above all surprising short role by none other than Master himself. Orson Walles’ much awaited entry in the film came much after passing an hour. And he appears just like a flash of ghost and suddenly escapes. And mind it, it’s sort of entry which the man like him deserved. Though he’s having just few minutes screen presence in the entire film, he made Harry Lime one of the crackling characters you have ever seen. It’s revealing to know that great ‘cuckoo clock’ speech of Lime was penned by Welles himself.

Cinematographer Robert Krasker’s achieved extraordinary feat here. His camera captured the essence and mood of the urban nightmarish, sinister and corrupt world of post-war Vienna plagued by black market racketeers in classic Neo-Realist sort of B&W frames. It’s dark world of full of fear and upheaval. I’ve never ever seen the city roads, streets, ruined gothic buildings including the underground sewage of the nocturnal cityscapes captured at original locations in any other film noir so integrally. The film has some of the great slanting and low/ground angle shots; watch the way he shot mysterious shadow on walls. Camerawork here is absolutely the subject of reference material for the students of cinematography. Infact in camera work more than Reed, the film looks more like Welles film. Kasker deservingly won Oscar for it. Zither music played on guitar by Anton Karas is another inseparable part of the film. All these elements won it Best Film trophy at Cannes same year.

One of the best noir of all time.


No comments: