Carol Reed was a British film director known for his films that combine suspense, mystery, and drama.

His films often feature complex characters and explore themes such as morality and human nature. Here are some of Carol Reed’s best films and why you might want to watch them:

The Third Man (1949): Widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made, “The Third Man” is a film noir set in post-World War II Vienna.

It tells the story of a writer who travels to Vienna to meet his friend, only to find that his friend has been killed.

The film features iconic performances from Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten, a memorable zither score, and a twist ending that will keep you thinking long after the film is over.

Odd Man Out (1947): “Odd Man Out” is a suspenseful drama about an Irish revolutionary who is injured during a robbery and tries to make his way back to his comrades.

The film explores themes of morality and the human condition, and features a powerful performance from James Mason.

The Fallen Idol (1948): “The Fallen Idol” is a psychological drama about a young boy who becomes caught up in a web of deceit and betrayal.

The film features a nuanced performance from child actor Bobby Henrey and explores themes of loyalty, trust, and the loss of innocence.

Best Carol Reed Films

Carol Reed’s films are known for their intricate plots, complex characters, and exploration of deep themes. They are must-watch films for anyone interested in the art of cinema.

1. The Third Man (1949)

“The Third Man” is a classic film noir directed by Carol Reed and released in 1949.

The film stars Joseph Cotten as Holly Martins, a writer who arrives in Vienna to visit his friend Harry Lime, only to find that Lime has died under suspicious circumstances.

As Martins investigates Lime’s death, he uncovers a web of intrigue and betrayal involving Lime’s associates, the local police, and a mysterious “third man” who may hold the key to the truth.

The film is notable for its atmospheric visuals and tense, suspenseful storytelling, as well as for its iconic zither score by Anton Karas.

   

The performances are also strong, with Cotten giving a memorable turn as the conflicted and sometimes clueless Martins, and Orson Welles making a brief but unforgettable appearance as the enigmatic Harry Lime.

“The Third Man” is widely considered one of the greatest films ever made, and has had a significant influence on subsequent film noir and suspense films.

Its themes of deception, moral ambiguity, and the shadowy underworld of postwar Europe continue to resonate with audiences today, making it a timeless classic that is well worth watching for any fan of film history or suspenseful storytelling.

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The Third Man (The Criterion Collection)
  • Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli (Actors)
  • Carol Reed (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

2. Odd Man Out (1947)

“Odd Man Out” is a 1947 British film noir directed by Carol Reed, known for his work in classic British cinema.

The film is based on the novel of the same name by F. L. Green, and tells the story of a wounded Irish Republican Army (IRA) leader who is on the run from the police after a robbery gone wrong.

The film is notable for its use of expressionistic visuals and intense character study, as it follows the protagonist through the dark and moody streets of Belfast as he confronts his past and his uncertain future.

“Odd Man Out” is also known for its commentary on the political and social realities of its time, as it depicts the complicated relationships between the IRA, the British government, and the people of Ireland.

“Odd Man Out” is a must-see for fans of film noir and classic British cinema, and is considered one of Carol Reed’s masterpieces.

The film offers a unique and powerful portrait of a troubled and divided society, and is a testament to the power of cinema to shed light on complex social and political issues.

Odd Man Out [Blu-ray] [1947]
  • Odd Man Out (1947) ( Gang War )
  • Odd Man Out (1947)
  • Gang War
  • James Mason, Robert Newton, Cyril Cusack (Actors)
  • Carol Reed (Director) - Odd Man Out (1947) ( Gang War ) (Producer)

3. The Fallen Idol (1948)

“The Fallen Idol” is a British film directed by Carol Reed and released in 1948.

The film is based on the short story “The Basement Room” by Graham Greene, and it tells the story of a young boy named Philippe, who is left in the care of his father’s butler, Baines, while his parents are away.

Philippe sees Baines as a hero and confidant, but he soon discovers that Baines is not quite who he seems.

   

The film is known for its intricate plotting, which keeps the audience guessing as to the true nature of the relationship between Philippe and Baines.

The film also features strong performances from its lead actors, particularly Ralph Richardson as Baines and Bobby Henrey as Philippe.

One of the most notable aspects of “The Fallen Idol” is its exploration of the perspective of a child, as Philippe navigates the confusing and sometimes frightening world of adults.

The film also features a powerful sense of atmosphere, with moody cinematography and a haunting score that heighten the tension and drama of the story.

“The Fallen Idol” is a gripping and suspenseful film that explores themes of betrayal, loyalty, and innocence.

It’s a must-see for fans of classic British cinema, as well as for those interested in the work of Carol Reed and Graham Greene.

The Fallen Idol (The Criterion Collection) [DVD]
  • Ralph Richardson, Michle Morgan, Sonia Dresdel (Actors)
  • Carol Reed (Director)
  • Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)

4. Oliver! (1968)

“Oliver!” is a 1968 British musical film directed by Carol Reed, based on the classic novel “Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens.

The film tells the story of an orphan boy named Oliver Twist who escapes from a workhouse and finds himself caught up in the criminal underworld of 19th-century London.

   

Along the way, he befriends a group of street urchins and encounters various colorful characters, including the charismatic but dangerous Fagin and the violent criminal Bill Sikes.

One of the defining characteristics of “Oliver!” is its memorable and catchy musical numbers, including the popular songs “Consider Yourself” and “Food, Glorious Food.”

The film’s score, composed by Lionel Bart, won an Academy Award for Best Original or Adaptation Score, and helped to make the film a box-office success.

Another notable aspect of “Oliver!” is its strong visual style. The film’s production design and cinematography are striking, with vivid colors and creative camera angles that help to bring the world of 19th-century London to life.

The film won several Academy Awards for its technical achievements, including Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography.

“Oliver!” is a classic film that has stood the test of time. Its memorable musical numbers, strong visual style, and timeless story continue to captivate audiences today, making it a must-see for fans of musicals and classic cinema alike.

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Oliver!
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Ron Moody, Shani Wallis, Oliver Reed (Actors)
  • Carol Reed (Director) - Donald Albery (Producer)
  • English, French (Subtitles)
  • English (Publication Language)

5. Night Train to Munich (1940)

“Night Train to Munich” is a British spy thriller directed by Carol Reed and released in 1940.

The movie is set just before the start of World War II, and follows a Czech scientist who is being pursued by the Nazis as he flees to England.

The scientist’s daughter is also in danger, and he enlists the help of a British spy to help get her to safety. Along the way, they must evade Nazi agents and the Gestapo as they travel by train to Munich.

One of the notable aspects of “Night Train to Munich” is its blend of suspense and humor, which creates a distinctive tone that sets it apart from other wartime dramas.

The movie also features strong performances from its cast, which includes Rex Harrison and Margaret Lockwood in the lead roles, and Paul Henreid in a supporting role.

“Night Train to Munich” is a well-crafted and entertaining spy thriller that stands out as one of the highlights of Carol Reed’s early career.

6. Our Man in Havana (1959)

“Our Man in Havana” is a 1959 British spy comedy film directed by Carol Reed and starring Alec Guinness.

The film is based on a novel by Graham Greene and tells the story of a vacuum cleaner salesman who is recruited by British intelligence to become a spy in Havana, Cuba. Here are some reasons why you might want to watch “Our Man in Havana”:

Witty Humor: The film has a sharp and witty sense of humor that is typical of Graham Greene’s writing.

The humor is not only directed at the spy genre but also pokes fun at bureaucracy, politics, and human nature.

Stylish and Atmospheric: The film is shot on location in Havana and captures the city’s unique atmosphere and architecture.

The film also features an excellent score by composer Frank Chacksfield, which adds to the overall style and ambiance of the film.

Strong Performances: The film features an outstanding cast of actors, including Alec Guinness, Maureen O’Hara, and Noël Coward.

Alec Guinness, in particular, delivers a memorable performance as the vacuum cleaner salesman-turned-spy, with his trademark deadpan humor and impeccable timing.

Our Man in Havana
  • Alec Guinness, Burl Ives, Maureen O'Hara (Actors)
  • Carol Reed (Director) - Carol Reed (Producer)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

7. Trapeze (1956)

“Trapeze” is a 1956 drama film directed by Carol Reed, and starring Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, and Gina Lollobrigida.

The film tells the story of a seasoned trapeze artist named Mike Ribble (Lancaster), who takes a young and talented protégé named Tino Orsini (Curtis) under his wing, despite their initial antagonism.

Along the way, they both fall in love with the beautiful and ambitious Lola (Lollobrigida), leading to a complex and often dramatic love triangle.

“Trapeze” is known for its spectacular circus stunts and acrobatic performances, which were performed by the actors themselves rather than using stunt doubles.

The film was also groundbreaking in its use of CinemaScope widescreen technology, which added a new level of spectacle and visual grandeur to the circus sequences.

While “Trapeze” is primarily known for its thrilling circus sequences, it is also a well-crafted drama that explores themes of rivalry, ambition, and love.

The film is anchored by strong performances from its three leads, particularly Lancaster, who brings depth and nuance to his role as the aging and increasingly disillusioned Ribble.

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Trapeze
  • Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, Gina Lollobrigida (Actors)
  • Carol Reed (Director) -  Liam O'Brian (Writer) -  Harold Hecht (Producer)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

8. Outcast of the Islands (1951)

“Outcast of the Islands” is a 1951 British adventure drama film directed by Carol Reed and based on the novel of the same name by Joseph Conrad. The film stars Trevor Howard, Ralph Richardson, and Robert Morley in lead roles.

The film tells the story of Willems, a disgraced trader who is banished to a remote island in Southeast Asia.

There, he becomes involved in a complex web of relationships with the locals and with his former employer, and must confront the consequences of his actions as he struggles to survive and come to terms with his own moral failings.

“Outcast of the Islands” is notable for its stunning visuals and powerful character study, as it explores themes of colonialism, identity, and redemption.

The film is also known for its outstanding performances by its cast, particularly Trevor Howard in the lead role.

“Outcast of the Islands” is a must-see for fans of classic British cinema and literature, and is considered one of Carol Reed’s most underrated works.

The film offers a unique and insightful perspective on the complexities of colonialism and personal morality and is a testament to the power of cinema to explore complex and profound themes.

9. The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)

“The Agony and the Ecstasy” is a historical drama film released in 1965 and directed by Carol Reed.

The film is based on the novel of the same name by Irving Stone, which tells the story of the creation of the Sistine Chapel ceiling fresco by the Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo.

Charlton Heston stars as Michelangelo, while Rex Harrison plays Pope Julius II, who commissions the artist to create the ceiling fresco.

The film depicts the struggles that Michelangelo faced during the four-year-long process, including his clashes with the Pope, his relationship with his assistants, and his own personal doubts and struggles.

The film is notable for its lavish production design, which recreates the art, architecture, and costumes of Renaissance Italy in great detail.

The film also features an epic musical score by Alex North, which adds to the grandeur and scope of the story.

“The Agony and the Ecstasy” is a visually stunning and engaging historical drama that brings to life the struggles and triumphs of one of the world’s greatest artists.

It’s a must-see for fans of art history, Renaissance culture, and epic historical dramas.

The Agony and the Ecstasy
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Charlton Heston, Rex Harrison, Diane Cilento (Actors)
  • Carol Reed (Director) - Irving Stone (Writer)
  • English, Spanish (Subtitles)
  • English (Publication Language)

10. The Way Ahead (1944)

“The Way Ahead” is a 1944 British war film directed by Carol Reed, and starring David Niven, Stanley Holloway, and William Hartnell.

The film tells the story of a group of civilian volunteers who are drafted into the British Army and sent to training camp to prepare for their roles as soldiers in World War II.

One of the defining characteristics of “The Way Ahead” is its realistic portrayal of military training and the challenges that soldiers face in preparing for combat.

The film was made with the cooperation of the British Army, and many of the soldiers who appear in the film were played by real-life soldiers who had recently returned from active duty.

Another notable aspect of “The Way Ahead” is its strong performances.

David Niven delivers a standout performance as the no-nonsense Sergeant who trains the volunteers, while Stanley Holloway and William Hartnell bring humor and heart to their roles as the volunteers.

Overall, “The Way Ahead” is a classic war film that offers a realistic and engaging portrayal of military training and the experience of soldiers during World War II.

Its strong performances and attention to detail make it a must-see for fans of classic cinema and military history.

Way Ahead, The - 1944 (Digitally Remastered Version)
  • David Niven, Stanley Holloway, John Laurie (Actor)
  • Carol Reed (Director)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

3 Characteristics of Carol Reed Films

Here are three characteristics that are often associated with his films:

Use Of Visual Storytelling

Reed was known for his ability to tell stories through striking visuals and cinematic techniques.

He often used deep-focus photography, unconventional camera angles, and unusual lighting to create mood and atmosphere in his films.

Emphasis On Realism

Reed’s films often had a gritty, realistic feel that reflected his interest in portraying social issues and political themes.

He was also known for his attention to detail in recreating historical settings, as seen in his films like “The Third Man” and “The Fallen Idol.”

Exploration Of Moral Ambiguity

Reed’s films often featured complex, flawed characters and explored moral ambiguity in their actions and decisions.

He was interested in portraying the human condition in all its complexities, and his films often raised thought-provoking questions about the nature of good and evil.

Reed’s films are known for their visual artistry, realism, and exploration of complex moral themes. These qualities have made his work enduringly popular with audiences and critics alike.

3 Reasons Why You Should Watch Carol Reed Films

Here are three reasons why you should watch Carol Reed films:

Masterful Storytelling

Reed was a master storyteller who knew how to engage his audience and keep them on the edge of their seats.

His films are known for their intricate plots, memorable characters, and unexpected twists and turns. Films like “The Third Man” and “Odd Man Out” are examples of Reed’s mastery of storytelling.

Atmospheric Visuals

Reed was a visual filmmaker who knew how to use the camera to create mood and atmosphere. He often shot on location, and his films are known for their stunning visual backdrops.

“The Third Man” is a prime example of Reed’s use of visuals to create a distinctive and atmospheric look and feel.

Talented Cast And Crew

Reed worked with some of the best actors and crew members of his time.

Actors like Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, and James Mason delivered standout performances in Reed’s films, and his collaborations with cinematographer Robert Krasker and composer Anton Karas produced some of the most iconic images and sounds in cinema history.

Carol Reed’s films are timeless classics that continue to captivate audiences today.

His skillful storytelling, atmospheric visuals, and talented collaborators make his films essential viewing for cinephiles and anyone who appreciates great filmmaking.

Best Carol Reed Films – Wrapping Up

Carol Reed was a highly acclaimed British film director who made many important contributions to the film industry.

Some of his best-known films include The Third Man (1949), Odd Man Out (1947), and The Fallen Idol (1948).

The Third Man, starring Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten, is widely regarded as Reed’s masterpiece.

The film is a dark and atmospheric thriller set in post-World War II Vienna, and is known for its iconic zither score by Anton Karas.

Odd Man Out, starring James Mason, is a tense drama about a wounded Irish Republican Army leader who is on the run from the police.

The Fallen Idol, starring Ralph Richardson, is a psychological drama about a young boy who idolizes his family’s butler, but begins to see a darker side to him after a series of unsettling events.

The film is notable for its exploration of childhood innocence and the power dynamics between adults and children.

Other notable films by Carol Reed include Night Train to Munich (1940), The Man Between (1953), and Oliver! (1968), for which he won an Academy Award for Best Director.

Carol Reed was a highly influential director who made many important contributions to the film industry.

His films continue to be celebrated for their artistry, their exploration of complex themes, and their timeless appeal.