I don't want to turn this into an "I have no taste" thread, so I'm going to caveat the hell out of this by saying I've only seen the movie once, and that was a while ago. That being the case, I might just need one or two more viewings to get used to it and learn to appreciate it. (Or I could just be a complete philistine, not ruling that out either.) That said, here goes:
Anton Karas's iconic, celebrated zither score in The Third Man. It just seems so wildly out of place in a noirish mystery set in post-war Vienna. It sounds too cheerful and goofy, and has too much of a Mediterranean flavor. (I know the zither actually comes from Austria, but the twanginess feels more appropriate for something set in a village in southern Italy, Spain, or Greece, not the ruins of occupied central Europe.) That famous opening theme doesn't exactly get me ready for the kind of movie I'm about to watch, full of betrayal and cynicism; instead, I want to tap my feet and sway my head in anticipation of some light comedy or something:
And even when the score goes for something a little more melancholic, like in that famous last scene, it comes across as sentimental and hokey, like it's trying to wring as much romantic emotion as possible out of each note:
The movie as a whole is outstanding, every other aspect is spot on, but I just can't figure out what they were trying to convey with that zither. Now go ahead, have at me. Do your worst. I probably deserve it.