Friday, March 14, 2014

The Third Man - Movie Review

'The Third Man' is rated 100 on Rotten Tomatoes and is hailed as one of the greatest in the noir category. The screenplay is written by novelist Graham Greene and it has Orson Welles playing a key character. Shot brilliantly in post war Austria, 'The Third Man' did have its moments but I am still unconvinced about the plot.

Holly Martins, a writer of western pulp classics arrives in post war Vienna, occupied by four different countries at that time, to meet his old friend Harry Lime. He finds that Harry has been killed in an accident and he just about makes it to the funeral. In discussions with the police he finds that Harry was a racketeer and deserved to die. Holly Martins later finds out that there are some discrepancies in the accident witnesses. Some say there were two men and some say there were three. Holly stays back to find that Harry Lime is alive and well and he was the third man who carried off the body of someone from his racket and buried off as Harry Lime. Anyway Harry Lime returns to meet his friend (why does he risk it if he is so ruthless?), exposes himself and finally gets killed very dramatically. Very cinematic in the end and one starts feeling sorry for Harry as he tries to avoid capture in the sewers which kind of makes Holly Martins a bit like a villain who betrayed his friend. I did not get the reason for the mysterious accident, how the body was changed in full public view, why the porter could not identify the third man from a distance of less than 100 feet, and why Harry actually comes back to meet his friend. Nor the reason why the girl wants to believe that Harry was betrayed.

I did not much like it very much. But the cinematography is brilliant and makes the picture and the times come alive wonderfully. Anyway, one classic off my list. Orson Welles has a fantastic presence and everything about him after he enters the scene, including his entry, leaves no doubt as to who the hero is - Harry Lime - the man who made millions giving people diluted penicillin. What's with these guys?

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