The Third Man- A must watch movie from Carol Reed.

“Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, and The Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

Harry Lime

The Third Man is a movie directed by Carol Reed. The movie was adapted from the novel written by Graham Greene which goes by the same name.

The movie is set in the post war Vienna which is divided in four zones and controlled by the allied forces, Russia, Britain, France & America.

Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) a pulp writer reaches Vienna on the invitation of his friend Harry Lime (OrsonWelles). On his arrival, Martins was told that Lime was killed in a road accident a short while ago.

Martins grew suspicious about the death since the eye witnesses gave different account of the incident. He take it upon himself to find out the truth even though that means an altercation with some people who claim to be Harry Lime’s friends and the British officer Calloway, played by Trevor Howard.

During the course of his investigation Martins meets with the lover of Lime, Anna Schmidt (Alida Valli), his accomplices Kurtz, Doctor Winkel and Popescu. Martins investigation unravels the truth which leads to a stunning and unexpected revelation.

The script written by Green is fantastic and has some memorable lines. The director has total control of the movie. Carrol Reed manages to capture the post war world perfectly. The cinematography by Robert Krasker is worth mentioning which took the film to another level. Some of the shots like the chase in the sewer will remain etched in your memory.

The music by Anton Karas, played on a Zither, is fantastic and adds to the beauty of the movie. It is an integral part to the movie and enhances the emotions of many scenes. in fact the “Third man Theme” went on to become one of the biggest hits of that era and still holds its sway on cinephiles.

Courtesy: You Tube

The last scene in the movie goes down as one of the best final shot in the annals of movie history. After the funeral Anna leaves the cemetery. Martins drives past her. Calloway reminds him that they have to hurry to catch the flight. But he cannot resist the urge to meet her. He asks Calloway to stop the jeep. He gets down and wait for her. It is a long shot now. It is winter and you can see trees which shed leaves lined up on both sides of the road. You can see the leaves still falling. The haunting Zither plays on…..Anna keeps walking. Miller awaits in anticipation. But she strides past ignoring him. Martins lights a cigarette and throws away the match in despair. Truly magnificent, indeed.

On the acting department, Joseph cotten shines as Holly Martins. He does not go overboard and essays a controlled performance. Orson welles, who is the central character, appears only in a few scenes but leaves an impression. The critics tout it as one of the best performances ever on celluloid, particularly his entry scene. But I prefer to give the credit to the director for envisaging and executing that scene to perfection. My only grudge is that the faces of the victims of contaminated Penicillin were never shown and that scene in the hospital was shot from the point of view of Martins. If their faces were shown it would have made a major impact on the viewers. Besides this Orson welles has the best lines in the movie, one about cuckoo clock (purportedly written by Welles himself) and another about “dots” which enhanced his performance.

But for me it is Alida Valli’s performance, although unsung, which has stood out. She is suave, stubborn, brittle all rolled into one. You can see the spark between Martins and Anna, but at the end she remained loyal to her love, Harry. It was not an easy role to perform, but she managed to pull it off.

The literary genius of Graham Greene has contributed much to the success of the movie, but you can see the stamp of a brilliant director all over the movie. It was Carol Reed who decided to change the climax scene as against the happy ending in the novel and it turned out to be a master stroke. The zither music which was a game changer was also Reed’s idea. All in all we have got a movie to cherish forever.

Just enjoy watching the movie!.

Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever?” he asks. “If I offered you 20,000 pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money, or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man. Free of income tax: the only way you can save money nowadays.”

Harry Lime


Date of Release: 01.09.1949 (UK)/02.02.1950(USA)

The Maltese Falcon – Movie Review- Not a classic as touted by the critics

Yes Angel, I’m gonna send you over, but chances are you get off with life. That means if you are a good girl you’’ll be out in 20 years, I’’ll be waiting for you. If they hang you, I’’ll always remember you”

Sam Spade- Played by Humphrey Bogart

The Maltese Falcon, released in 1941  is a movie directed by John Huston. It is an adaptation of the novel by the same name written by Dashiell Hammet. The movie is considered as a classic by many and a pioneer in the Film Noir genre.

The movie revolves around the chase for a falcon statue which was considered as priceless. It is believed that it was made by the knight of Malta in 1539 in order to honor Charles V of Spain. But the falcon never reached the intended recipient since it was seized by the pirates.

The film starts with a lady (Mary Astor) entering the office of private investigator Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) and ask him to shadow a person who is stalking her sister. That person gets killed as well as the assistant of the private investigator during the course of a night. The story gets murkier when the private investigator finds out that the lady was spinning a yarn and she has many things to hide. As the story progresses more and more people get involved in the chase for the falcon, including Peter Lorre who was employed by a fat man (Sydney Greenstreet) who has been chasing the falcon for many years.

The lady knows the whereabouts of the falcon. She along with the Private investigator gets into a deal with the fat man for exchange of the falcon.  The story gets into a climax where the falcon remains a mystery and untraceable.

The movie is well made and watchable even after 79 years of its release. The dialogues are sharp and crisp. All the actors have essayed their parts neatly. The cinematography by Arthur Edeson is worth mentioning. John Huston could draw a neat picture of criminals, but can the movie be considered as a classic or a great crime narrative when viewed in 2020 or even in the last century? The answer would be a big NO .So why people think it is a classic? Before getting into the question let me point out the reasons for not considering it a classic.

  • The film is not the edge of the seat thriller as many would like you to believe
  • The story is predictable, and everything happens effortlessly
  • The hero, Sam Spade, seems to be a super man with an instant solution for everything
  • The film does not grow on you. You just watch the movie scene by scene without feeling the story or the characters
  • The fight scenes look ridiculous. One thud and you fall unconscious!!!

Now let us analyze why some people consider it as a classic.

  • It was the pioneer of film noir genre
  • It was a new experience for the audience of the era, something they have never experienced before. The first experience tends to stick with you lifelong.
  • The characterization was different with everybody having grey shades. The hero is not an epitome of virtue. He has no qualms while siding with the wrong side of the law. He is selfish and plays his cards well. Further Humphry Bogart has played the part to perfection, which catapulted him to a Hollywood icon.

The above points apply to many movies including Casablanca and Citizen Kane. It is human tendency to blindly accept and support what is widely considered as iconic without questioning them for fear of being ridiculed. It is time we did unbiased reviews of these movies without attaching any sentimental values.

Oh boy, Did I say anything sacrilege?

Please post your comments even if you differ with my view.