Movie meme Thingy:
Most people who will name check this film for the Orson Welles “cuckoo clock” scene, which itself might be the best bit of cinema ever committed to film. But there’s 90 other minutes in “The Third Man” where Orson does not appear, and the dialog & music set an international mood, making this film a very a-typical noir (as most others are 100% American to the core, in form and style if not in explicit location). But this is a “man out of place” tale where Joseph Cotten steals the show. As he zig zags across post war Europe meeting character actors in an effort to track down his friend, he continues to move forward toward the con man Harry Lime with clockwork precision. On the way we get a slice of the seedier sides of every day European life, beautifully shot with incredible music. While the radio program based on this movie – “The Many Lives of Harry Lime” – is great for completely different reasons, the film is perfect on its own, an needs no further narrative. (Orson and the music are the same on the radio, but the form is a serialized “sophisticated con man” story with Harry meeting and grifting new people every week. A great show only hindered by what happens at the end of this film.) The Third Man might be the first “fun” noir, with all of the mood but without the desperation of the rest of the genre. Sure, eventually we all die in this world. But even WWII is not tragedy enough to dispirit the music, and the spirit of the people in this movie. They will either find a scrappy way to make it to tomorrow, or find an end fitting of the adventure world you live in.