Top 100 Films Dead Ringers – Andrei Rublev – Vertigo – Meshes of the Afternoon – Morvern Callar – Jeanne Dielman – The Thin Red Line Top 100 Films

2008: Rank | Title | Year

All reviews © Nick Davis

Author's permission must be granted in writing for any duplication or publication.

Browse Films by
Title / Year / Reviews
Home / Blog / E-Mail

#86: The Third Man
in 2008: 86
dir. Carol Reed, 1949
scr. Graham Greene; cin. Robert Krasker
with Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Trevor Howard, Orson Welles
IMDb // My Full Review // Leave a Comment

In 100 Words: Can one be indelible and ephemeral at the same time? Impossible, I'd say, but for Harry Lime, the man infiltrating everyone's headspace in postwar Vienna, his oratory unforgettable, his smirk more so, yet nobody seems sure where or who (or whether) he is. The Third Man somehow threads the same impossible needle. The lacquered photography, the zither motif, the battered elegance, the strange tone of mordant elegy, the promenaders passing on a graveyard path: so much is unforgettable, but encompassed within such an intricate plot, such an uncanny milieu of Europe dreaming about itself, that it surprises me every time.

Food for Thought: Anne-Marie Scholz's article "'Eine Revolution des Films': The Third Man (1949), the Cold War, and Alternatives to Nationalism & Coca-Colonization in Europe" may not have the most gossamer title you've ever heard, but the essay itself mirrors the sweep and elegance of the movie it analyzes. Scholz yields a rich and fascinating history of The Third Man's production and reception and also builds a poignant case for the movie as embodying a brief, lost hope for a new world of "internationalism" that the imminent escalation of the Cold War and the insatiable, homogenizing drives of western capitalism render impossible. The piece originally appeared in Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television Studies 31.1 (2001): 44-53, but the fullest and most revised version appears as a chapter in Scholz's book From Fidelity to History: Film Adaptations as Cultural Events in the Twentieth Century, just out in paperback as of December 2015. You'll also find chapters on The Bridge on the River Kwai, Welles's The Trial, and multiple adaptations of Jane Austen and Henry James for film. I've just bought my copy and imagine others of you may be similarly eager!

Permalink Top 100 Home Blog E-Mail