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The two best films of the 1940's! I'll go with Casablanca, because it didn't have a zither.
It seems that most everyone wasn't a fan of the zither, but I was. It added to the overall atmosphere, I feel. And, even if I happened to agree with you on the zither, to say that Casablanca was a monumental disappointment for me would be an understatement. Nowhere near being the Best Movie of All-Time in my book. Nowhere close.
I can't even imagine The Third Man without the zither! It gives the movie a very unique feel that I thought was beneficial. And I'm going with The Third Man because of Orson Welles, but I love Casablanca too.
I also didn't much like The Third Man's score; it just didn't mesh well with the story being told, in my opinion. The only character I cared about in The Third Man was Harry Lime, and he's hardly in the movie at all. Casablanca had many more compelling characters (Capt. Renault!) and more memorable dialogue. Oh, and The Third Man didn't have Ingrid Bergman. Casablanca wins.
Casablanca....a step above...