One of the best black and white films ever made (IMHO) is The Third Man, featuring an ensemble cast that includes the likes of Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton, Trevor Howard, and Alida Valli. The movie is based upon the book by Graham Greene, who also wrote the screenplay. The film was shot in 1949, and takes place in post WWII Vienna. Pulp novelist Holly Martins (played by Joseph Cotton) is invited to come to the city by an old friend and black market opportunist, Harry Lime (portrayed brilliantly by a young Orson Welles), on the pretext of hiring him. However, shortly after Martins’ arrival, Welles’s character is mysteriously killed, when he is supposedly hit by a truck. There is a tremendous amount of intrigue involving Lime and Major Calloway (Trevor Howard), who hasn’t quite bought into the accidental death theory, and the love triangle involving Martins, Lime, and Anna Schmidt (Valli) simply sizzles with intensity.
Two of the most memorable scenes in the film involve some spectacular black and white footage, the first involving a nighttime shot of a man’s shadow magnified many, many times against the side of a building, and the other a sequence featuring a chase scene through the labyrinthian underground sewer system of Vienna.
If you’ve never seen this film, I highly recommend that you do. I know everyone thinks Citizen Kane is the best film ever made (and perhaps it is, although I prefer The Godfather), but this is one of the best films Orson Welles ever made. If for no other reason than to hear the haunting Third Man Theme, which is played on a zither and inhabits the entire film, The Third Man is well worth seeing.
You can actually watch this terrific movie for free online at Putlocker.
NOTE: Joe Perrone Jr is the author of the highly-successful Matt Davis Mystery Series: As the Twig is Bent, Opening Day (a 2012 Indie B.R.A.G. medallion winner), Twice Bitten, and Broken Promises. All four are available in paperback and E-book. As the Twig is Bent and Opening Day are also in audiobook, with Twice Bitten and Broken Promises soon to follow.
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