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
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Carol Reed's The Third Man is set in post-war Vienna- a hypnotic city, which is in consideration of the mountains of rubble and general sorrow of the are- and stars Joseph Cotten as Holly, a writer of hokey B-Western novels who's come to visit an old chum named Harry Lime. He finds out Lime is dead, but that there is more to his old friend than he knew since before the war, along with Lime's girl Anna (a sympathetic character?). Then when the revelation is shown of Lime's face on a darkened street, the film reaches an elegance rarely seen today in pictures.
Orson Welles, who plays Harry Lime, has in fact a role much like a cameo, having a speech with Cotten on a Ferris Wheel. Even before his "cuckoo clock" finale, we get the sense this is one of these classic scenes of all time, leading up to an unforgettable chase in a sewer. Along with precise, Oscar Winning cinematography, and an ever-entrancing musical score, The Third Man is one of the essentials for movie buffs. A++
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