Spoilers follow, read at your peril

The movie is based in Vienna after the World War 2. It tells the story of the writer, Holly Martins who arrives in Vienna on invitation from his friend, Harry Lime.

Upon arrival Martins learns that Lime has been killed in a recent car accident (he passes the funeral as he arrives). However the details of the accident are not clear, and Martins starts his own investigation.

The investigation reveals a number of unsavoury things about the character of Lime. The local constabulary are less than forthcoming with information, and one is left to wonder what actually happened to Lime. Is he in fact dead at all?

There's the obligatory romantic subplot where Martins falls in love with Lime's girlfriend, Anna. This leads to further complications as Martins learns more and more of the character of Lime.

The plot is quite intricate and twisted, but what makes this movie is the cinematography. The shots of a post-war, occupied Vienna are simply breathtaking.

I saw this film both before and after I visited Vienna in 2000. This movie holds additional fascination for me from a historical perspective as well. It is quite an interesting contrast with the present day city. Standing before the ferris wheel where Martins and Lime meet at the end of the film, it was hard to believe the changes in the city over a mere fity years.

Calloway: You don't know what you're mixing in. Why don't you catch the next plane?
Martins: I'll catch the next plane as soon as I get to the bottom of this.
Calloway: Death's at the bottom of everything, Martins. Leave death to the professionals.
Martins: You mind if I use that line in my next Western?