Whoa, it really does seem to be out of print. It's only available from sellers at Amazon, for a minimum of something like $60. A few other sites have it listed as sold out, temporarily unavailable, etc. I've owned it for more than 6 years, but I had no idea it was going OOP. Is Criterion going to be re-releasing it? Or have the rights reverted to someone else? I'm really surprised by this.
Criterion still has the rights. They have confirmed to me that they are working on a special edition, and had planned to release it in November. Obviously, something has delayed it, but I hope and expect that it will turn up in 2007.
This is in my top 5 films, so I'll buy this. I'd sell the current one, but I think I'll give it to a friend or family member. The Third Man is a great and essential film, so a Criterion 2nd Edition is fully justified. I have no doubt that they'll pull out the stops for this.
Knowing their excellence, this ought to be a 2-disc edition with the great "Shadowing the Third Man" documentary.
Columbia House still has it. If you go that route, go to the DVDTalk Club forum and find out about enrollment codes, special offers, how to minimize expenses, etc. I got my copy there for about $5 when all costs are averaged out.
Criterion won't re-author all their early titles. On their blog, they've said:
"Why do we rerelease a title? What’s next, and are there rebate programs? I actually answered this in detail in the March 2006 newsletter. In short, we only rerelease a film if we can do a significantly better job with either the film transfer, the supplements, or hopefully both. We know there are a good two-dozen early releases (Andrei Rublev and Shock Corridor, to name just a couple) that need to be redone, and we’ll probably get to them at a rate of three to four a year. I tried to find a rebate program for customers who already owned the discs. We had one for Charade. It didn’t work. The participation was very low. The cost was very high, and we couldn’t effectively price the disc without competing with our retailers in a way we found uncomfortable."
The known "in the works" re-releases are:
Andrei Rublev Shock Corridor The Third Man Picnic at Hanging Rock Salo
There are "British" and "American" cuts of the film, with different openings. The current British version opens with a narration by Carol Reed as if he is telling a story he'd heard about Holly Martins' search for Harry Lime. The first time I saw TTM, it was an atrocious VHS of the American version. That version featured Joseph Cotten as Holly Martins saying essentially the same thing Carol Reed says in the original British version. There are probably other differences, but that was the main thing I remembered.
The current DVD has the Cotten-narrated American opening as a bonus feature. David O. Selznick made a few other edits for the original US release, but I don't see much need for both cuts in their entirety to be on a new DVD release.
Well, I'm sure some of us would disagree. The two cuts are different enough for TCM to air them both, and since the DVD format can handle multiple versions of a film via seamless branching, why not include both?
That's funny. I just watched it from Netflix as well and had a similar reaction. It was an awesome film. Now I'm trying to watch 8 1/2 and it literally put my to sleep. Hopefully it will draw me in soon.