American writer, Holly Martins, arrives in post-war Vienna to visit his old friend Harry Lime. On arrival, he learns that his friend has been killed in a street accident, but also that Lime was a black marketer wanted by the police.
There's an element of show-off quality in The Third Man-it's a stylistic tour de force of bravura lighting, brilliant location shooting, dynamic imagery, and sharp angles throwing the world off kilter-but Reed rises to the challenge of Greene's script.
A lot funnier than you remember it, Carol Reed's immortal 1949 film noir seems to exist in the space between two worlds: an earlier time when thrillers were mostly serious affairs, and a future one, when such supremely witty entertainments felt passé.
By the very nature of its settings and story, there are occasional reminiscences of Lang and Hitchcock, but there is nothing borrowed or imitated. Stylistically, The Third Man is Reed's most impressive film.