From our Retrovue series comes a 4K restoration of the cinematic masterpiece, Carol Reed’s The Third Man.

In postwar Vienna, none of the mutual governments trusts one another, but the responsibility and effort to rebuild war torn sections of the city is a joint one.  The central part of the city is a common area, policed by all four countries, the U.S., Great Britain, Russia and Germany.  In the midst of this setting comes pulp novelist Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) to see his friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles), Martins discovers that his friend is dead, the victim of a car accident.  With a military police major, Calloway (Trevor Howard) eager to get rid of him, Martins begins to piece together what happened to his friend.

The screenplay by Graham Greene is nothing short of stellar.  No detail is left to the imagination, but you never know where the story will take you next.  It is the genuine surprise in the way it unfolds that will leave you wanting to see more. Cinematographer Robert Krasker’s use of light and shadow is magnificent, a testament to his well-earned Oscar® win.  Anton Karas’ score makes use of a single concert zither, adding yet another layer of intrigue onto the story.  It is both romantic and tense and serves the film quite well.

The film print was scanned in 4K and a frame-by-frame restoration by Deluxe Restoration was completed from an intermediate, second generation nitrate film print.  The original film negative has been lost.

Unfortunately, the level of detail found inherent in film stock has been digitally removed for the most part, rendering some of the images flat.  The depth of the black and white picture is overly sharp.  While it takes away from Krasker’s cinematography only slightly, it is distracting to look at.

Despite the criticism of the restored picture quality, if you can see The Third Man on the big screen, it is recommended.