Movie Poster of the Week: Carol Reed’s “The Third Man”

A collection of international posters for the classic postwar thriller being revived in New York this week.
Adrian Curry

Der dritte Mann, De Derde Man, Le Troisième Homme, El Tercer Hombre, Il Terzo Uomo, Den Tredie Mand... One of the deathless classics of world cinema, Carol Reed’s oft-revived The Third Man is being revived once again at Film Forum starting today, this time in what is apparently its first major restoration.

The poster above, the original UK one sheet for the film, is included in the exhibition of posters from Martin Scorsese’s personal collection currently running at MoMA. What is interesting about some of the earliest posters for The Third Man, especially the American ones, is how they fail to capitalize on what has become the most enduring iconography of the film: the ferris wheel or Orson Welles’ face lit up in an alleyway. The British posters (a variation of the design appears below) at least include the arches of the Vienna sewer tunnels but feature none of the film's stars. The US posters on the other hand focus above all on Alida Valli (billed, as she was during her Hollywood years, as simply “Valli”) with the other characters in the background. Over the years, as the iconography took hold, the film has become much more about Welles’ Harry Lime in the public imagination, to the point that he dominates revival posters for the film.

Collected below are all the best international posters I could find for the film, from the original release through to contemporary art prints. Curiously, the film does not seem to have been originally released in Poland or Czechoslovakia, thus depriving us of what would have been those designers’ unique take on the film.

The alternative British poster:

The US one-sheet:

The US three-sheet:

The US half-sheet:

A US insert card which, unlike the posters above, has the tonally inappropriate tagline “He’ll put you in a dither with his Zither"!

The 1949 US press book detailing the variety of posters available to exhibitors:

Two French posters by Bernard Lancy:

And another French poster by Claire Finel:

Some of the best posters for the film are the German designs:

A German poster by Heinz Fehling:

A German poster by Heinrich Stengel:

A German poster by Hans Otto Wendt:

An unsigned German poster:

A 1956 German poster:

A 1962 German poster by Dorothea Fischer-Nosbisch:

Another German poster from the 1960s for Atlas Films:

A Spanish poster by Macario Gómez Quibus aka “Mac”:

Another Spanish poster by Mac using the silhouette-within-silhouette logo that appeared on the cover of the US press book:

An Italian poster by Angelo Cessalon:

A Japanese poster:

A Belgian poster:

An Argentinian poster:

A 1959 Danish poster:

An Australian poster:

Two French mid-’70s re-release posters:

A 1975 Japanese poster:

The US re-release poster for the 1999 50th anniversary:

An Italian locadina also from 1999:

A 2013 UK art poster designed by LaBoca:

A contemporary art poster by Francesco Francavilla:

An international poster for the 2015 digital restoration designed by Oliver Barrett:

A French poster for the restoration also designed by Oliver Barrett:

And if you ever wanted to see all these posters together in one room you should pay a visit to the Third Man Museum in Vienna!

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Movie Poster of the WeekCarol ReedOrson WellesJoseph CottenAlida ValliTrevor HowardspotlightColumns
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