The Third Man

Movie review by
Scott G. Mignola, Common Sense Media
The Third Man Movie Poster Image
As powerful and original now as it was in 1949.
  • NR
  • 1950
  • 93 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages
Violence

None except for a few fatal gunshots, only by reference. A murder scene is tastefully presented without a drop of blood. The dark, haunting mood and a chase through a winding sewer system might unnerve some preteen viewers.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie sets out to entertain, and does so ingeniously, without blood or sensational violence. Still, the shadowy, suspenseful mood and wry dialogue may not appeal to some preteens, so this one is better for teens and their parents.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 6 and 11 year old Written byWife-mother-law... April 29, 2012

CSM review got it right.

The CSM review got it right. To understand this movie teens will have to understand "black markets" and a little bit about post WW II history of divi... Continue reading
Adult Written bygumba61 April 9, 2008

Great Film Noir with Style and Mystery

This is a classic film of the Cold Way period. Joseph Cotton and Orson Wells are their magnificent selves. The film is fine for older kids but you'll proba... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bymongofa March 5, 2011
There are many things that make this movie great. The acting is fantastic! The cinematography is perhaps the pest I have ever seen. The seen where Joseph Cotton... Continue reading

What's the story?

Set in postwar Vienna, this classic espionage movie follows the story of American writer Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten), who comes to Vienna because his old friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles) promised him employment. But Martins learns that Harry was killed in a car crash and that his friend had a criminal background and was, in fact, a killer. Martins finds himself caught up in the mystery surrounding Lime's death.

Is it any good?

Several factors contribute to make THE THIRD MAN as powerful and as stunningly original now as it was when it premiered to great acclaim in 1949. Graham Green's taut story and wonderfully snappy dialogue provide a strong foundation for some outstanding performances. Then there are the dank and glorious ruins of Vienna, exquisitely captured by Robert Krasker's Oscar-winning camerawork. And there's that music, a lone zither plucking jauntily away throughout the movie, even at the scene of a murder. Director Carol Reed's unconventional choice to have unknown musician Anton Karas perform the entire soundtrack met with objections, but it worked splendidly and made a star of Karas.

Orson Welles doesn't appear onscreen until two-thirds of the way through, but his presence is felt early on. The skewed camera angles, the imposing shadows; these, he said, were Reed's genius, but there's no mistaking the influence of his own Touch of Evil and Citizen Kane, which Welles and Joseph Cotten also starred in together. This is a movie that sets out to entertain, and does so ingeniously, without blood or sensational violence. The American Film Institute voted it number fifty-seven on their list of the 100 greatest American movies of all time.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the filmmaking techniques used in this 1949 film, and how it compares to the more action-oriented spy thrillers of today.

Movie details

For kids who love thrills

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