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The Third Man PG rating

Carol Reed's timeless classic, one of the greatest British films, lavishly marries a perfect script, an unforgettable theme tune and the star power of Orson Welles.

Thriller 1949 105 mins

Director: Carol Reed



One of the greatest British films, Carol Reed's classic very consciously emphasises its time and place - post-war Vienna - yet its resonant themes around loss of innocence and a fall from grace render it timeless. Joseph Cotten plays the writer searching the Austrian capital for his missing friend, Harry Lime. He's disturbed to discover that Lime recently died, but soon begins to doubt the official version of events.

Graham Greene's peerless script borrows its pessimistic outlook from American Film Noir, but manages to balance its cynicism with wit and pathos. Containing many celebrated sequences, including its sewer-set finale and Welles' iconic onscreen entrance, the film also boasts one of the most memorable theme tunes in all cinema; the puckish zither score by the then unknown Anton Karas, whom Reed discovered in a bar. The Third Man was a big success upon its release, generating radio and TV spinoffs, but it's also risen in estimation over the years to become one of British cinema's most cherished treasures. Ranked joint 63rd in the 2022 Sight and Sound Great Films of All Time poll.