Montreal Film Journal


Vienna, after World War II. The city is in bad shape. It has been divided into Russian, British, American and French zones, each with different authorities. Holly Martins arrive in this messy place to meet one of his dearest friends that he haven't seen in a while, Harry Lime. But when Holly sets foot in Vienna, Lime is dead. He was hit by a car. But was it really an accident? Holly will try to find out by talking to the people that rubbed shoulders with his deceased friend. It seems that things are much more complicated than it seems. Holly doesn't just get into trouble, he also falls in love with Lime's girlfriend...

This movie is a great piece of filmmaking. The story is intelligent and full of twists. The characters are interesting and the dialogue is great. The direction from Carol Reed is extremely good. The B&W photography is sharp. The images are filled with shadows and unusual lighting. The visual style is very original. The shots are rarely held straight, they're generally in oblique angles.

Many scenes are memorable. The opening is very cool. The film starts with a propaganda-style spoken prologue. The chase scene at the end is also brilliant. Then, there's Orson Welles' unforgettable performance. He has only a supporting role, but he steals the movie. His entrance is especially impressive, as is the classic speech he gives to Joseph Cotten, who plays Holly. The score of the film is unique. It was performed by Anton Karas on a zither, and it suits the action perfectly. This is definitively a masterpiece. I loved every second of it.