An out of work pulp fiction novelist, Holly Martins, arrives in a post war Vienna divided into sectors by the victorious allies, and where a shortage of supplies has lead to a flourishing black market. He arrives at the invitation of an ex-school friend, Harry Lime, who has offered him a job, only to discover that Lime has recently died in a peculiar traffic accident. From talking to Lime's friends and associates Martins soon notices that some of the stories are inconsistent, and determines to discover what really happened to Harry Lime. Written by
Mark Thompson <email@example.com>
Orson Welles said that when he agreed to play Harry Lime, he was offered either a straight salary or a percentage of the profits. Welles chose the salary but he later regretted it because the film went on to become such a huge hit, the percentage was ultimately worth far more than the salary. See more »
In the sewer before putting fingers through grate, Harry Lime holds the stair's supporting pole with his right hand, but the gun should be in his hand, as displayed before and after this shot. See more »
If you want to enjoy the camera-work, please see this on the Criterion DVD. That's not a plug for the company. It's just that no one else has ever offered a cleaner version of this film. After suffering for years with lousy VHS transfers of this gem, it was nice to see it given justice.
To me, the visuals here make this DVD worth owning because the story is okay, but nothing super. To an average first-time viewer, the first hour of this film can drag. I found that to be the case on my first viewing, but the more I watch this, the better the story seems to have gotten for some reason. Despite his billing, Orson Welles has a small role in here. He doesn't even appear until after 65 of the film's 104 minutes have elapsed. Meanwhile, Joseph Cotten dominates the story, along with Alida Valli, sort of a poor man's Ingrid Bergman. Those two are okay but the story picks up dramatically after Wells finally appears.
In addition to the fabulous cinematography, an unique feature of this movie is the music, which is very strange for a film noir. It's lighthearted music from a zither, almost circus-like in its sound and melody....but I liked it. It helps make this movie different.
The visuals involve a lot of nighttime photography, lots of shadows and cobblestone streets. The tilted camera angles and the closeups - all traits of Wells the director, are here to enjoy
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