The Third Man

Orson Welles stars in Carol Reed’s wonderfully atmospheric 1949 adaptation of Graham Greene’s Cold War noir. Some people say that Welles exerted his influence on the picture over director Reed, but that’s unfair to the British pro. His use of skewed camera angles, Vienna’s labyrinthine sewers (shot on location), and great zither score (by Anton Karas), makes Welles’ Harry Lime only one part of a dark canvas of corruption. Joseph Cotton plays the innocent Yank who can’t believe his old pal is involved in underworld drug dealing and murder. When the two of them meet for the famous Ferris wheel scene, his eyes are opened to how even upright Americans can turn rotten in the right milieu (always a favorite Greene theme). Comparing the revelers below to ants, Lime asks, “Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you twenty thousand pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money?” (NR) BRIAN MILLER

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