The Third Man (1949)



Critic Consensus: This atmospheric thriller is one of the undisputed masterpieces of cinema, and boasts iconic performances from Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles.

Movie Info

In this Cold War spy classic, Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten), a third-rate American pulp novelist, arrives in postwar Vienna, where he has been promised a job by his old friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles). Upon his arrival, Martins discovers that Lime has been killed in a traffic accident, and that his funeral is taking place immediately. At the graveside, Martins meets outwardly affable Major Calloway (Trevor Howard) and actress Anna Schmidt (Alida Valli), who is weeping copiously. When Calloway … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Graham Greene (I), Graham Greene (II)
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 30, 1999
Box Office: $0.4M
Rialto Pictures - Official Site


as Holly Martins

as Anna Schmidt

as Harry Lime

as Maj. Calloway

as Baron Kurtz

as Dr. Winkle

as Sgt. Paine

as British Policeman

as Hall porter

as Anna's "Old Woman"

as Kurtz's Mother

as Porter's wife

as Winkel's Maid

as Barman at Casanova

as Hansel's Father

as Waiter at Smolka's

as Taxi Driver

as Barman at Sacher's

as Headwaiter

as Josefstadt Theatre A...

as Man Chasing Holly
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Third Man

Friend Ratings

No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.


Critic Reviews for The Third Man

All Critics (79) | Top Critics (19)

Krasker's camera reveals a dank, matte, defeated city - so dully vivid as to be a character unto itself - except that this Vienna becomes something altogether different seen at night or underground.

Full Review… | August 6, 2015
Boston Globe
Top Critic

Reed and screenwriter Graham Greene let the story unfold slowly and deliberately, like the cigarette smoke that floats around the characters, and keep us guessing at every step.

Full Review… | July 2, 2015
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Like many, I have loved this thriller of conscience and betrayal most of my moviegoing life.

Full Review… | July 2, 2015
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

"The Third Man" is important not just because of its technique but because of its theme ...

Full Review… | June 26, 2015
Top Critic

A lot funnier than you remember it, Carol Reed's immortal 1949 film noir seems to exist in the space between two worlds: an earlier time when thrillers were mostly serious affairs, and a future one, when such supremely witty entertainments felt passé.

Full Review… | June 24, 2015
Time Out
Top Critic

The Third Man is a movie of sobering pleasures.

Full Review… | June 23, 2015
Village Voice
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Third Man

Despite its distracting overuse of Dutch angle shots, this is a classic film noir crafted beautifully by Reed and Graham Greene (who worked on it by writing his excellent novella), with a fascinating villain, a fabulous post-war Vienna as its location and a perfect choice for a score.

Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

The absolute in spy classics, and Carol Reed's best directorial effort, "The Third Man" remains one of the most interesting and politically driven films of all times. The performances are amazing, to say the least. Joseph Cotten is Holly Martins, an expatriate from America, who comes to war torn Austria to find his friend dead, his job gone, and an unraveling mystery all set up for him to solve. As Martins (a mystery novelist) starts looking into his old friend's (Welles) death, he discovers a man he desperately doesn't want to admit knowing, and a conspiracy that extends to murder. Martins is so subdued and dark that he instantly fits into the everyman facade and runs with it. Alida Valli as Anna Schmidt was intriguing as well, fighting for the man she loves but also being shocked into empathy. Anna Schmidt is one of the more complex and interesting characters of the entire film, and though her motivations are clear, she still steals the show from time to time. The plot is interesting, the suspense is taut, and the cinematography is out of this world amazing. A must see, a classic, and a thriller worth being thrilled about.

Spencer S.

Super Reviewer


If you take away Welles it wouldn't be that memorable, and even with him, the movie is still not that memorable. What do you remember about this aside from Welles lines, the photography, and the theme song? Having trouble remembering anything else? That's because most of the story dances around a "plot twist" or discovery or whatever it is that is hardly exciting, and all too predictable (Lime is alive, duh) and our main lead is a doofus, and not exactly the charming type, just a helpless goon going around from one point to another. The switch he has at the end in his confrontation with his old friend ends up feeling like a super moralistic preachy lesson about "doing the right thing". I can see why this movie has stand the test of time, but it's merits are rather shortcoming. Not bad, just not great.

Tsubaki Sanjuro

Super Reviewer

The Third Man Quotes

– Submitted by monsieur r (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Mithil B (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Emily G (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Chris P (4 years ago)

Discussion Forum

Discuss The Third Man on our Movie forum!