The Third Man (1949)
The Third Man (1949)
The Third Man (1949)
The Third Man (1949)
The Third Man (1949)
The Third Man (1949)

Film Studies

Cinema Classics Seminar:
The Third Man

Thursday, April 27, 2023, 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm  
Instructor: Paul Wright, Ph.D., Instructor, BMFI

Directed by Carol Reed from a script by novelist Graham Greene, The Third Man (1949) won the Palme d’Or at Cannes and is widely acclaimed as one of the greatest British films ever made. Reuniting Citizen Kane stars Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles, the film is set in a post-WWII Vienna divided amongst American, British, French, and Russian forces. Cotten plays Holly Martins, an American pulp writer who arrives to find that his long-time friend, Harry Lime (Welles), has gone missing and may be the victim of foul play. But the deeper Martins digs into the mystery, the more questions about Harry himself emerge.

The Third Man takes the viewer on a dizzying journey through different kinds of storytelling, establishing a template for the Cold War thriller that would recur over the decades to come, while also helping to reimagine the film noir genre. Robert Krasker’s inventive cinematography deploys the aesthetic and moral chiaroscuro of post-war Vienna to powerful effect, establishing a visual language deeply influential on other noir efforts to come.

This is also a profoundly existential film, rooted in fundamental anxieties about how much we can ever know or connect with other people, exemplified in Holly’s complex relationship with Harry and with Harry’s lover (Alida Valli). Driven relentlessly on by Anton Karas’s melancholic and contagiously catchy zither score, The Third Man is that rare entertainment that can evoke a precise sense of place and time while reminding us of the questions that continue to haunt us wherever and whenever we find ourselves.

Are you interested in “just” seeing this movie? Visit the public screening page here.

Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. All students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, those in attendance receive a ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink. Please note: the screening associated with this seminar will be open to the public, as well.

If you are unable to attend this seminar on site, you can rent and stream it in our Remote Classroom beginning a week after the event date.

Please email BMFI Programs and Education Coordinator Jill Malcolm with any questions.


Course Information

$25 for members, $35 for non-members


  • Thursday, April 27 · 6:30 pm

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