The Third Man 1949 ★★★★

This review reportedly contains spoilers.
I can handle the truth.

This review reportedly contains spoilers.

On finishing this film, I was presented with a question: Was Harry Lime really evil? The next question that popped into my head is, "What is Evil?"

Evil, it seems, is just Harry Lime's way of living in the world. And while it might be unwholesome and immoral, Harry Lime is just taking advantage of what is in front of him. In this film's most famous speech, we are told that Italy under strife accomplished more than Switzerland under peace. Maybe that's true, but not because one is more evil than the other. It's because one side took more risks.

The Third Man gives us a protagonist by the name of Holly Martins. He's a bumbling western writer with no money who means well. Meanwhile, we are presented half-way through with Harry Lime, a witty scoundrel of a hustler who double-crosses and seemingly gets away with it. Both men, however, are opportunists. Holly took Harry's job offer in Vienna as fast as he could. Would he not rush to the same opportunities provided by the Penicillin ring?

The Third Man does a great job of questioning morality with these themes, and everything surrounding those themes backs that up. From the diagonal camera angles, to the long shadows that seem to swallow entire buildings in Vienna. Some might venture to call this Noir, but Holly is no hardboiled detective, and Anna is no femme fatale. The score does not reflect noir conventions either. Instead of some jazzy trumpet in the background, there is this strange... zither, which to me sounded almost tropical. I can understand the praise for the music itself, but for me it did not help the film. However, all the other unconventional elements in this film do it good, and help it stand out in a world of dark shady thrillers set in european cities.

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