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