#109: The Third Man (1949)

When and how did I watch this?

August 17th and 18th, 2016, on Amazon Instant Video.

Had I seen this film already?


What did I know about the movie before watching it?


What do I know about it now?

I had to cheat a little bit to give this one a fair shake.  It’s been about a month since I’d seen the film, and much of it was forgotten, so I poked through some reviews.  Many reviewers felt that this was one of the best films they’d ever seen, mostly for its ability to generate suspense and its nostalgic qualities. Personally, I expected more out of this film. The screenplay was superb, the cinematography was ahead of its time, taking advantage of an incredible setting, and we’re left with a stunning conclusion. The score stands out as well, providing an unexpected backdrop. Perhaps the film is a product of the time period, but I felt much of it was predictable, and it had the classic “here’s how evil I am; let me tell you everything about my scheme” moment. The anti-love story, to define it for what it is, is underdeveloped and really provides stop gaps for the real story: who is the third man?

What are some themes in the film?

Post-WWII economics, friendship and betrayal, greed

Did this affect me personally?

Not really.

Why is this ranked #109?

Orson Welles seems to have a grip on some folks.  The plot is compelling enough for a high rating.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She likes this genre a lot, so there was no problem for her here. She seemed to enjoy it.

Would I watch it again?

Probably.  It’s possible I missed important aspects of the film.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

It’s a crime drama, and people like those.  I think it’s worth your time.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

Reluctantly, yes.  There’s something nostalgic about the film. Ebert described his first experience watching the film, sitting alone in a small theater downtown as a young man. The film seems to evoke feelings akin to what other great films of the era produce. I don’t know if that’s really enough to make it “great”, but it’s on here, and there’s something to it.  I probably just missed it.

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