Summary of The Third Man.

Essay by AffineeUniversity, Master'sA+, September 2003

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Summary of the 3rd man..

The Third Man (1949) is a visually-stylish thriller - a story of social, economic, and moral corruption in a depressed, rotting and crumbling, 20th century Vienna following World War II. The striking film-noirish, shadowy thriller was filmed expressionistically within the decadent and poisoned city, sector-divided along geo-political lines. The black and white, pessimistic film is one of the greatest British thrillers of the post-war era, in the best Alfred Hitchcock tradition, and beautifully produced and directed by Britisher Carol Reed. It was co-produced by Hungarian Alexander Korda and American David O. Selznick. Because Korda gave American distribution rights to Selznick (who cut eleven minutes from the original British version), the credits of the US version include Selznick references.

This was Reed's second collaboration with screenwriter Graham Greene - a clever mystery tale of a love triangle with nightmarish suspense, treachery, betrayal, guilt and disillusionment.

Its two most famous sequences include the Ferris-wheel showdown high atop a deserted fairground, and the climactic chase through the underground network of sewers.

The director knew that the film's musical score could not be reflective of the traditional Old Vienna - waltz music by Strauss. Instead, it would be provided by a solo instrument -- a zither. The jaunty musical score by Viennese composer/performer Anton Karas lingers long after the film's viewing with its twangy, mermerizing, lamenting, disconcerting (and sometimes irritating) hurdy-gurdy tones. In fact, Karas' musical instrument was a leading film character and advertised as such: "He'll have you in a dither with his zither (a laptop string instrument)." The insistent, chilling music sets a mood of polarized dislocations in the world (e.g., war and play, men and children) and in the corrupted city's 'no-man's-land' environment (with its bombed out, war-torn ruins, dark and slick streets, cemeteries and...