An out of work pulp fiction novelist, Holly Martins, arrives in a post war Vienna divided into sectors by the victorious allies, and where a shortage of supplies has led to a flourishing black market. He arrives at the invitation of an ex-school friend, Harry Lime, who has offered him a job, only to discover that Lime has recently died in a peculiar traffic accident. From talking to Lime's friends and associates Martins soon notices that some of the stories are inconsistent, and determines to discover what really happened to Harry Lime.

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Currently ensconced in the top fifty movies of all time on the IMDb, I just don't see it. Sure, The Third Man looks absolutely gorgeous and the ending is superb, but the rest is just passable. Beautiful to look at, but lacking any real drive or urgency. The stuff in the sewers is good and there's some nice discussions of morality, but the film drags terribly for the first hour, where the casting (and, in a modern age, VHS covers) clearly signpost that Welles is to be expected. Coming from the director of the superlative "Odd Man Out" and the writer of the equally superb "Brighton Rock" then I was expecting more. I don't consider myself a philistine, but, for me at least, the narrative and subtext of this one wasn't enough to sustain its attempts at brilliance.

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