From the hypnotic twang of the zither theme song to the film’s atmospheric cinematography (which won Robert Krasker an Academy Award), Carol Reed’s 1949 British film noir The Third Man was one of the most influential films of its era—in fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Top 100 Greatest Films of All Time list without it (Jack White even named his record label after it). Novelist Graham Greene’s screenplay concerns unemployed pulp-western novelist Holly Martins, who arrives in postwar Vienna to meet his old friend, Harry Lime. But the city, bombed out from World War II and overrun by black-market hustlers, is full of mysteries—namely that his friend appears to have been killed. As he investigates the case, things get even more bizarre as his search for answers leads him from the top of the famous Prater Ferris Wheel down into the sewers. The incredible cast stars Joseph Cotten, Orson Welles, and the bewitching Italian actress Alida Valli as Lime’s mysterious girlfriend. A film that demands to be seen on the big screen, it is now running in a fresh print for its 60th anniversary at Film Forum.

Dec. 24-29, 2009

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