Carol Reed’s Film Noir masterpiece THE THIRD MAN (1949), starring Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, and Orson Welles, will run at Film Forum from Friday, June 26 through Thursday, July 9 (two weeks), in a new 4K restoration – its first major restoration ever.
In rubble-strewn postwar Vienna, pulp Western writer Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) arrives to meet up with his old friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles), only to find that he’s dead — or is he? As the supremely naïve Cotten descends through the levels of deception, and discovers his friend’s corruption, the moral choices loom. A triumph of atmosphere — with its Vienna locations (including the gigantic Riesenrad Ferris Wheel and the dripping sewers), its tilted camera angles, shadows, and unforgettable zither theme — and with its stars in perhaps their most iconic roles: bereted Trevor Howard at his most Britishly military; Alida Valli, truly enigmatic and Garboesque; and Welles, arriving in one of the greatest star entrances ever (he added the famous “cuckoo clock” speech to Graham Greene’s original script); and topped by its legendary, almost endlessly drawn-out final shot.
A rare collaboration of legendary producers Alexander Korda and David O. Selznick, THE THIRD MAN was Reed’s second collaboration with novelist/screenwriter Greene. An instant critical and commercial sensation, it won the Palme D’Or at Cannes, the British Film Academy’s Best British Film award, and three Oscar nominations: for director Reed, editor Oswald Hafenrichter, and cinematographer Krasker, with a win for the latter’s expressionist, now iconic b&w cinematography. Anton Karas’ haunting “Third Man Theme,” performed by the composer on a zither, was a worldwide hit.
THE THIRD MAN remains the only movie on both the American Film Institute and British Film Institute Top 100 lists of, respectively, the greatest American and British films of all time (the Brits named it their Number One), as well as being as well as being named The Greatest Foreign Film of All Time… by the Japanese.
The award-winning team at Deluxe Restoration carried out the new 4K digital restoration of THE THIRD MAN on behalf of Studiocanal. Following rigorous comparison of different available elements, the 4K scan was done from a fine grain master positive struck from the original camera negative.