The Third Man

Criterion Collection

I’m normally not a fan of companies re-releasing films as “new and improved” special editions on DVD—mainly because they are usually neither. Luckily, Criterion isn’t just any company. In addition to featuring a stunning new, high-def transfer of the legendary 1949 film The Third Man, the DVD is overflowing with special features: two audio commentaries, a 90-minute documentary on the making of the film, two half-hour documentaries, a radio adaptation written and produced by co-star Orson Welles, archival footage, essays and more. Is all of this overload? No. Unlike releases of modern movies, the special features aren’t thinly disguised commercials for the movie you already saw—they’re an insightful look back at perhaps the best noir film ever made. Starring Joseph Cotton and Welles, The Third Man is a magnificent triumph of acting, writing and cinematography filmed on location in postwar Vienna, and this DVD belongs in the collection of every movie fan.