While I appreciated the story and much of the film making in The Third Man, ultimately it didn't end up doing anything for me. I found the character of Holly Martins to be meddlesome and annoying, the story, while good, never felt very suspenseful or attention grabbing, and the ending revealed nothing new and certainly nothing that would save the story from being mostly boring.
I guess that maybe it was the point and I am missing something entirely but most of the film I was just annoyed every time Holly Martins spoke. He was out of place, clueless, and was trying to act like a detective when in reality he was just a marginal suspense writer. The idea just never paid off for me. Especially the fact that they never managed to explain why he was actually there. It seemed like they were building up towards something more interesting than "he knew a guy who wanted to give him a job."
They were never really able to build up any suspense in the story either. Until you find out that Harry Lime is alive, it is never hinted at or suggested, he just shows up suddenly. From there on, everything just goes according to plan. They find that he has been using the sewer system to escape, Holly meets him with little to no trouble, there is no big master plan or bigger idea present that what has been presented by the police, and then Harry shows up at the ambush as according to plan. Everything worked out for the protagonists, nothing in there was interesting. The only conflict was the slight internal conflict that Holly had about turning his friend over to the police but even that is made to seem fairly cit and dry after a while.
In the end, they kill Harry and his mistress Anna doesn't want to be with Holly. Shocking! The bad guy gets caught and the lonesome writer continues to be lonesome save for maybe a sense of well being. Nothing about this really warranted a film being made.
Don't get me wrong, there were things that I liked. I thought that the basic skeleton idea for the story was good enough but they just never added anything to make it interesting. I liked the character of Major Calloway although again he was rather two dimensional. Of course, the cinematography was fantastic, in fact I found myself paying more attention to that than the story or the characters. But, in the end, some cool camera angles were not enough to save it for me.