THE THIRD MAN – 1949 – movie - A Classic Review - directed by Carol Reed – screenplay by Graham Greene – executive producer, David O. Selznick – cinematography by Robert Krasker; players are: Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton), Anna Schmidt (Alida Valli), Harry Lime (Orson Welles), Major Calloway (Trevor Howard), Sgt. Paine (Bernard Lee).
While on location in Vienna, in an extraordinary piece of luck, Carol Reed found Anton Karas playing his zither in a restaurant. Karas, apparently anointed from above, was subsequently hired to score the entire film. The movie went on to win him an Oscar.
The cinematic artistry of noir black and white style, lighting, and camera work gives the movie the needed framework within which to capture and expose the internal conflicts that drive these characters. And I have to say, never have the sewers of any city ever looked this good. Robert Krasker was awarded an Oscar for his work behind the lens.
The exteriors and some of the sewer chase scenes were shot over a 6 week period in Vienna during the winter of 1948. All the interiors, and at Well’s instance, some of the sewer scenes, were shot on stages in London.
Although Green, with his slightly
anti-American bias, couldn’t resist imbuing Holly with a streak of doltishness, Joseph Cotton’s characterization has managed to shed the most damaging effects of that image.
David Selznick, a very controlling producer, wanted James Stewart and Robert Mitchum for the Martin and Lime parts, but Mitchum was serving jail time for a marijuana bust and wasn’t available.
Green wrote the story as a novella, from which he developed the screenplay. During the filming he insisted on a happy ending with Holly and Anna walking off into the sunset. But Selznick and Reed felt that Anna had suffered such a deep inner conflict that such a capitulation would not be acceptable.
After the movie was released, the Russians complained that they were depicted as too sinister. And, the Swiss wanted the world to know that no cuckoo clocks were ever made in Switzerland.