Carol Reed reached the peak of his form with this classic noir, an elegy for American innocence and European elegance. Joseph Cotten, in fine form, stars as unemployed pulp-novelist Holly Martins. When he arrives in post-WWII Vienna on the promise of a job from his old friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles), he finds that Lime has recently died in a dubious car accident. Against the advice of British sector authority Major Calloway (Trevor Howard), who accuses Lime of criminal behavior, the indignant Martins decides to stay to investigate his friend’s death. He searches this city of rubble-strewn streets and bombed-out buildings, earnestly questioning Lime’s associates, a cynical, war-weary collection of black-market hustlers. At length, he realizes that the stories he’s hearing are so full of contradiction, he’s getting nowhere. Yet, he’s entranced by Lime’s beautiful girlfriend, Anna Schmidt (Alida Valli), who, unlike the others, seems to have loved Harry.Calloway finally provides evidence of Harry’s treachery, and Martins, despondent, is about to return home when everything changes in a shadowed moment. THE THIRD MAN is a masterpiece of melancholia featuring extraordinary writing, acting, and directing, as well as a classic zither score by Anton Karas. Welles is memorable as the seductive villain, but the true star may be the camera work of Robert Krasker, which transforms Vienna into a coruscating, expressionist nightmare.