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The Third Man (1949)
THE THIRD MAN: A Film for the Ages
I am a devotee of post-World War II black-and-white realism, whether it be the films of Vittorio De Sica or American movies like ON THE WATERFRONT and 12 ANGRY MEN. THE THIRD MAN, Carol Reed's classic from 1949, can be considered one of the first "Method movies"; certainly Orson Welles' acting in the great Ferris Wheel scene is more naturalistic than your typical 1940's acting, and the slanting camera angles and evocative shadows lend this film an artistic, poetic quality lacking in many potboilers of the era. Graham Greene's script for THE THIRD MAN too has literary quality and depth; in classic film noir fashion, it presents a cynical, pessimistic view of life in which humanity is caught in a web of deceit, upright moral actions do not yield a story-book ending, and a woman would rather be true to a dead lover and his corrupt values than wake up to a better love that awaits her. The powerful, expressive imagesa fleeing shadow down an alleyway, a long tree-lined road past a cemetery, a puff of silver smoke from a train, the dying Harry Lime's hands grasping at life through a sewer grate, as well as that magnificent underground network itselfwill haunt you, and you will feel enriched by this superb film.