Estimated by some to be the greatest British movie ever made, it strikes me as a bit of a curate's egg. I mean, is it supposed to be a comedy? And are we supposed to find (Orson Welles') Harry Lime's roguish twinkly charm attractive when he's actually responsible for the harm cause to children by his black marker activities?

Of course not.

And yet the uneven tone is remarkable. There is a great deal of humour, such as the banter between Joseph Cotten's character and Bernard Lee's and the various dodgy people Cotten meets as he tries to untangle the mystery surrounding Lime's "death".

The Coen Bros must have cut their black comedy teeth by watching Carol Reed's film

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