Media Monday: The Third Man

When we talk movies with friends, and the subject of classics, noir, black & white, and “The best movie ever,” a few reliables are always mentioned.

  • Citizen Kane
  • Casablanca
  • The Third Man
  • Gone With The Wind



We’d seen all of them except for The Third Man. We rectified that omission this weekend.

Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, and Trevor Howard all starred. We also watched director Peter Bogdanovich’s introduction to the movie. He mentioned that Orson Welles said black and white is the preferred medium because viewers aren’t distracted by details such as eye color or sunsets. They attention remains solely on the actor’s face and other shadows in the scene.

The basic story is about pulp novelist Holly Martins who travels to post-war Vienna at the invitation of his friend Harry Lime. When Martins arrives in Vienna he discovers his old friend has been killed and is bring buried in the local cemetery. He begins to investigate Lime’s death and hears differing eyewitness accounts, one of which maintains there was a third man at the accident scene.

As a snapshot of early 1950s film noir, The Third Man holds up quite well. As a good old fashioned who-done-it (or was-it-done?), it holds up very well.

We enjoyed it and–whew!–now when the topic of classic films comes up, we can knowledgeably discuss The Third Man.

What’s your favorite classic or noir film? What should we add to our Must See list??