- Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono, French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono, German DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono, Spanish (Castilian) DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
- Subtitles: Dutch, French, German, Spanish (Castilian)
- Region: A
- Rating: Not Rated
- Discs: 1
- Studio: Lionsgate Home Entertainment
- Blu-ray Release Date: September 14, 2010
- List Price: $39.99
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
Editor’s Note: Portion’s of this review not relevant to this specific release were previously published.
The Third Man is the 1949 film noir classic by director Carol Reed (Olivier!, The Running Man) starring an amazing all-star cast of Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles, and Trevor Howard. If you want the mold for the classic crime thriller, you can probably stop with this one film right here.
It’s post-war Vienna and the dilapidated city is segmented into four sectors run by the British, Russians, Americans, and French. Into this world arrives American writer of b-level western novels Holly Martins (Cotten), where he discovers that his friend Harry Lime has been run over by a truck and killed. Holly meets up with a British Major investigating the case, Calloway (Howard), and the two are instantly at odds, but Martins won’t let it go. Convinced something is awry, Martins takes to his friend’s girlfriend, Anna Schmidt (Valli) and together the two investigate Harry Lime’s untimely demise, uncovering a bit of information — Harry’s porter saw three men carrying his dead body across the street the night he was hit, a fact that no one told to the police. So Martins decides to find “the third man” and find out what really happened to his friend, but it gets dangerous as he uncovers information that places Harry on the wrong side of a thriving post-war black market in Vienna.
The Third Man, notable for its angular cinematography, rubble-strewn streets of Vienna, and a zither score played by Anton Karas that imparts an almost whimsical feel is truly an accomplished piece of cinema. They don’t make them like this anymore. These were the days when the writing and the camerawork drove the film, not the special effects, and The Third Man is iconic straight through. From its score to its imagery of ferris wheels and the famous chase through the sewers, this is one mystery that will leave you chuckling and sitting on the edge of your seat. Superb.
This encoding is identical to the UK StudioCanal release from Optimum Releasing, which was previously reviewed here. The Third Man has been given a relatively clean 1080p transfer to Blu-ray in its original 1.37:1 aspect ratio. The black and white picture retains a natural film-like quality. Grain, though present, never overwhelms the image. Detail resolution is never exceptionally sharp, but it is more than adequate for this film given its age. The black levels tend to drift from grey to a deeper shade of charcoal grey, but in all it’s a pleasing and natural looking transfer that doesn’t do damage to the original intent of the filmmakers.
The original monaural soundtrack is offered up in a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix. There’s not much that can be done with this, given the limited amount of channels and the age of the recording, but it does convincingly convey the ambient sounds of the sewer in the film’s climax. The dialogue is adequately presented, though just a little muffled at times.
The superb audio commentary and brand new HD features make this edition of The Third Man a steal for film buffs. It’s nice to see some real added value for a change, rather than bonus features that are simply an afterthought being used as a marketing tool.
The supplements provided with this release are:
- Original Trailer 1 (1.37:1; 1080p/24)
- Original Trailer 2 (1.37:1; 1080p/24)
- Shadowing The Third Man (1.78:1; SD; 1:29.00)) — A retrospective documentary.
- The Third Man on the Radio — The Third Man radio play, featuring Orson Welles. From 1951.
- Audio Commentary with Guy Hamilton (assistant director), Simon Callow & Angela Allen (2nd unit continuity).
- The Third Man Interactive Vienna Tour (1.78:1; 1080i/60) — Use your remote for an interactive tour around the sites of post-World War II Vienna.
- Stills Gallery (HD)
- Guardian NFT Interview with:
- Joseph Cotten (Audio Only)
- Graham Greene (Audio Only)
- Joseph Cotten’s Alternate Opening Voiceover Narration (1.37:1; SD)
- Interview & Zither Performance by Cornelia Mayer (1.78:1; 1080i/60)
- Booklet: Essay by Charles Drazin, film historian/biographer. His books include Korda: Britain’s Only Movie Mogul, The Finest Years: British Cinema of the 1940s and In Search of The Third Man. He lectures on the cinema at Queen Mary, University of London.
The Definitive Word
This classic crime thriller is given a solid upgrade in this StudioCanal Collection release and should proudly grace the shelves of anyone who deems to call themselves a movie lover.
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