Upon its release in 1949, Carol Reed’s atmospheric screen adaptation of Graham Greene’s The Third Man instantly became a cinematic classic winning numerous plaudits and awards from the Grand Prix at Cannes to The Oscars.
The iconic thriller stars Joseph Cotten as American pulp western writer Holly Martens who arrives in post-war Vienna following up an invitation fro childhood friend Harry Lime. However Martens discovers that Lime (Orson Welles) has apparently been killed in a recent accident leaving behind a grief stricken lover, Anna (Allida Valli) and a British investigating officer called Calloway (Trevor Howard) who seems determined to expose Lime as an unsavory criminal.
StudioCanal’s new 4K restoration from a fine grain master positive struck from the original negative takes the DVD and Blu-Ray audience back to 1949 and is the ultimate experience in black and white cinematography.
As far as classic dramas go there’s much to enjoy here from the war-torn Viennese backdrop which provides much in the way of atmosphere as the drama unfolds in a variety of locations including a playground, a cemetery underground sewers to Anton Karras’ score and iconic theme tune.
The film has many surprises in both storytelling and performance and its easy to see why it is still held in such high regard some 65 years after its original release. Joseph Cotten turns out a compelling performance as Martens while Allida Valli gives is convincingly standoffish as female lead Anna. Of course, Orson Welles is nothing short of brilliant as the mysterious Harry Lime but Trevor Howard is equally compelling as Calloway as he tries to uncover the truth about Harry Lime. James Bond fans should also look out for an early acting role by the original M, Bernard Lee who plays a chirpy military cockney sidekick to Howard’s investigator.
The DVD and Blu Ray comes bristling with new extras including rare audio interviews with Graham Greene and Joseph Cotten and an insight into how the film has influenced modern day film makers such as Martin Scorcesse.
The 4K restored version of The Third Man is available from StudioCanal on Blu Ray and DVD formats now.
- A version of this review by Andy Howells appeared in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on July 24, 2015
- Visit Studio Canal website.