The Third Man (1949) is a classic thriller directed by Carol Reed. Developed by Graham Greene from an idea jotted down on the flap of an envelope, this virtually flawless thriller is one of the best British films of all time. Set in postwar occupied Vienna, the plot is a corker, littered with memorable moments and played to perfection by an unforgettable cast that’s led with distinction by Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten. A master of place, angle and shade, director Carol Reed (helped by his Oscar-winning cinematographer Robert Krasker) fashions a city in which menace lurks around every corner, while Anton Karas’s jaunty zither music uniquely echoes the wit and drama of this dark yet daringly playful picture. The musical score was composed by Anton Karas and played by him on the zither. Before the production came to Vienna, Karas was an unknown wine bar performer. According to a November 1949 Time magazine article: “The picture demanded music appropriate to post-World War II Vienna, but director Reed had made up his mind to avoid schmalzy, heavily orchestrated waltzes. In Vienna one night Reed listened to a wine-garden zitherist named Anton Karas, [and] was fascinated by the jangling melancholy of his music.”
Video Rating: 4 / 5

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