The Third Man (1949)

(On VHS, December 2001) Time hasn’t been kind to this film. Even though it holds up better than most contemporary films, the lack of camera movement eventually manages to annoy severely. Vienna is made flat and dull, much like the film itself. Other annoyances abound: The cursed zither music grates, Orson Welles looks more like a naughty fat kid than a world-class smuggler and the middle half-hour does little to advance the plot. Hey, I liked a lot of the dialogue, and the entire Ferris wheel sequence, but it doesn’t alleviate the faults of the film. The dialogue is reasonably good, with at least a classic line or two. (Harry Lime: “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.”)

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