A Pictorial History of the Movies: 1949 – The Third Man
Of course this was gonna be the choice for 1949. There was no alternative. Find me a film that had such a lasting impact on film and better represents 1949 better than this one.
You have David O. Selznick, top Hollywood producer, and Alexander Korda, top British producer, working together. You’re dealing with the realities of a post-war Vienna, divided into American, British, Russian and German sectors, as well as the classic noir tropes of American cinema. Add to that the brilliant work of Carol Reed and Robert Krasker, and you have an absolute perfect choice.
What, were you gonna choose Come to the Stable instead?
This film features, to me, the greatest character introduction ever put to film. This movie is also the encyclopedia of the dutch angle. It’s also the quintessential noir. The seedy locations, the pulp aspects of the novel, the shiftiness and mystery behind all of the characters. It’s so great.
I love how real this movie feels. Showing you all sides of Vienna. Giving you so many minor elements that feel as if they could be expanded into their own movies if they wanted. Just the idea of a war-torn city divided into four sectors. It’s so incredible.
There’s just so much going on in this film, I don’t even know where to begin talking about it. It’s just an absolute perfect entity, which is why it’s on my list of my top five favorite films of all time. Every single frame of this movie is perfect.
The race through the streets when we first see Harry, the cuckoo clock speech, the climax in the sewers, the final shot… it’s just overload of stuff I love about this movie. And the score. My god, the score. One of the most unique scores in all of cinema, yet somehow it works perfectly.
A great story is that, Graham Greene, who wrote the script and novella the film is based on, wanted the film to actually end way differently than it does. And David O/ Selznick and Carol Reed vehemently disagreed, and the result is one of the most famous final shots in the history of film. So there’s that.
Also, David O. Selznick and Carol Reed were on a shitload of dexedrine during the filming of this movie. Which is pretty insane.
But seriously, post-war, noir, the international flavor of it all — there’s absolutely no other choice for 1949. It perfectly captures the attitudes of America and Europe after the war, and turns it into one of the greatest movies ever made.