A perfect barbed gem of a film. Manages to use hella canted angles without ever feeling "wacky". Welles' Harry Lime perfectly captures what Werner Herzog would later refer to as 'the bliss of evil'. For me Reed's direction (as also in 'The Fallen Idol') counters Greene's dryness and allows one to appreciate the unbearable lightness as well as the moral seriousness of his work.
16mm. Re-watch (for the first time in 10 years almost exactly). This film takes itself so seriously, and at times is so quirky! That score! That cinematography!!! (I just learned about "the Dutch angle" tonight, oops.) Orson steals the show the second the camera hits him. A thoroughly satisfying cinematic experience.
Classic noir imagery. If I had to pick a film to exemplify noir-age film grammar, this would probably be it. The performances are memorable, with a special mention to Orson Welles, who, despite appearing for only a few brief moments, is just so much fun to watch on-screen.
I hesitate to add to the acclimation with my rating. But personally I can't rate it otherwise. The best way to approach the film for the first time is to forget everything you've read, heard, or seen about it. I'm not suggesting permanent amnesia, just to drop any preconceptions. It helps to have been to Vienna, though. And though the zither may seem exotic, it is quintessentially Austrian and integral to the film.
Though Carol Reed was never more than a competent journeyman director, The Third Man remains a classic, partly because of the location shooting among Vienna's ruins, partly because of Greene's screenplay, partly because of Welles' scene-stealing turn and partly because of the music. A film whose fame is untouchable and always will be.