(1949) In rubble-strewn postwar Vienna, its occupation divided among four powers, Joseph Cotten’s pulp Wester writer Holly Martins arrives to meet up with his old friend Harry Lime, only to find that he’s dead — or is he? And as the supremely naïve Cotten, a monoglot stranger in a strange land, descends through the levels of deception, and as he discovers his own friend’s corruption, the moral choices loom. A triumph of atmosphere — with its Vienna locations (including the gigantic Riesenrad ferris wheel and the dripping sewers), its tilted camera angles, its Robert Krasker-shot shadows, and Anton Karas’s unforgettable zither theme — and with its stars in perhaps their most iconic roles: bereted Trevor Howard at his most Britishly military; Alida Valli, here truly enigmatic and Garboesque; and Welles’ Harry Lime, arriving in one of the greatest star entrances ever, and adding the famous “cuckoo clock” speech to Graham Greene’s original script, with the whole topped by its legendary, almost endlessly drawn-out finale shot.
“THE BEST REVELATION IN ALL OF CINEMA.”
– Martin Scorsese
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“EXQUISITE! ENCAPSULATES ALL THE REASONS WE GO TO THE MOVIES! A CRISP AND HANDSOME RESTORATION! Welles is so radiant, so enthralling, so unapologetically egotistical… He’s the movie’s real femme fatale, all the more dangerous for being so masculine.”
– Stephanie Zacharek, The Village Voice
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“FEELS UNLIKE ANY MOVIE OF ITS ERA! This beautiful restoration polishes every canted angle and deep shadow to a glow. LOOKS LIKE IT WAS FILMED YESTERDAY!”
– Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York
“A MARVEL! IT REALLY MUST BE SEEN ON THE BIG SCREEN, where the shadows can be appreciated in all their glory.”
– Robert Levin, amNewYork
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“Pure, devastating and vital, just as much now as it was then.”
– Matt Noller, Slant Magazine
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“ONE GREAT SCENE AFTER ANOTHER! ONE GREAT SHOT AFTER ANOTHER! I’VE SEEN IT 50 TIMES AND IT’S STILL MAGIC!”
– Roger Ebert
“One of the most intense atmospheres the screen has ever delivered! You can smell the sewers, the fear, and the mistrust in Vienna. A time and place were captured; scenario and locale were stirred, like cream going into dark coffee.”
– David Thomson
“The supreme movie about the night world, the ultimate example of that shining-streets-and-lurking-shadows ‘realism.’”
– David Denby
“Welles haunts each scene: everywhere and invisible, he’s a smirking Cheshire cat of a villain, a superb case study in shameless charisma as poisonous contagion.”
– Ben Walters, Time Out (London)
“No matter how many times I saw it over the years its magic never failed. I kept discovering dark new delights, and the classic moments remained every bit as classic. I can only envy the viewer who gets to encounter Reed’s movie for the first time.”
– David Ansen
Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon and Taxman. She has guest starred on “One Life to Live,” “As the World Turns,” and “New York Undercover.” She is profiled in Jade Magazine.
Other articles by Lia Chang
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