The Third Man (1949)

Directed by Carol Reed, written by Graham Greene

A broke American writer (Joseph Cotton) receives a job offer from his friend (Orson Welles) and travels to post-war Vienna to accept. On arrival he finds his friend has been hit by a car and killed. As our writer asks a few questions and receives answers from various witnesses, he realizes their stories don’t quite make sense and begins looking into his friend’s death which he suspects is murder, and he immediately runs afoul of police.

This British noir is surprisingly funny as our writer bumbles his way through an area in the foreign city where multiple languages are spoken and many people can’t understand each other, and the lively music heightens the humor. Many people consider film noir American only; nevertheless, this one appears in multiple best of noir lists. It’s smart, funny, and has an outstanding, poignant ending.

5 stars

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