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The Third Man (1949)

Not Rated  |   |  Film-Noir, Mystery, Thriller  |  31 August 1949 (UK)
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 104,103 users  
Reviews: 396 user | 206 critic

Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, Harry Lime.



(by), (screen play), 3 more credits »
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Top 250 Movies #110 | Won 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Anna Schmidt (as Valli)
Karl - Harry's Porter (as Paul Hoerbiger)
Ernst Deutsch ...
'Baron' Kurtz
Erich Ponto ...
Dr. Winkel
Hedwig Bleibtreu ...
Anna's Old Landlady


An out of work pulp fiction novelist, Holly Martins, arrives in a post war Vienna divided into sectors by the victorious allies, and where a shortage of supplies has lead to a flourishing black market. He arrives at the invitation of an ex-school friend, Harry Lime, who has offered him a job, only to discover that Lime has recently died in a peculiar traffic accident. From talking to Lime's friends and associates Martins soon notices that some of the stories are inconsistent, and determines to discover what really happened to Harry Lime. Written by Mark Thompson <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


He'll have you in a dither with his zither! (from reissue print) See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





| |

Release Date:

31 August 1949 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

The 3rd Man  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$13,576 (USA) (7 May 1999)


$431,949 (USA) (25 September 2015)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The future director John Glen was working in the editing department at Shepperton Studios when the film started production. He had a similar build to Joseph Cotten and was enlisted to supply the sound of his footsteps in post-production sound dubbing. He watched a continuous loop in the Westrex theatre and memorized the exact speed of Cotten's pace before dashing outside to a stairwell with a hard surface where the sound of his walking was recorded. See more »


After Harry's funeral, in the Zentralfriedhof, Anna goes into the straight alley. We see her shadow on the right side on the screen See more »


Calloway: Next time we'll have a foolproof coffin.
See more »


Referenced in La avispita Ruinasa (1983) See more »


Das Alte Lied
(1931) (uncredited)
Music by Henry Love
Lyrics by Fritz Löhner-Beda
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

The real mccoy when you want to talk serious screen legends!
29 March 2002 | by (Longmont, Colorado) – See all my reviews

What IS it makes THE THIRD MAN the classic most everyone agrees it is? (And lets face it, voted no 35 in the top all-time films gives it MORE than just some passing credibility!) Is it Orson Welles' menace? The whiff of corruption in occupied post-war Vienna? the cuckoo-clock speech atop the big wheel? even Anton Karras' zither? Perhaps ALL these things? If however, you had to nominate just a single influence within the whole production that elevates it to greatness I suggest that would be Robert Krasker's cinematography.

The finished product innovatively, was years ahead of its birthright. Time and time again the viewer is bailed up by stunning camera angles and back-lighting. The eerie shadows around the deserted streets and of course the unforgettable first glimpse of Harry Lime (Welles) himself as he skulks like the rat he is, in the corner of the building, lit in close-up suddenly from the light in an adjacent apartment. Offhand I cannot think of a character's more dramatic entrance to a film.

Welles in fact has minimal screen time, though his dark presence and influence infiltrate proceedings like an insidious disease. Yet somehow his ultimate demise in the sewers brings into play an incredible sadness and compassion that has absolutely no right being there. It remains for me one of my top five film favorites. I have always given it a "10" personally but hey, to be voted an "8.6" universally is a pretty fair vindication of my words here.

133 of 201 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Great movie, horrible music! oxhan
point is Harry Lime's charisma makes people overlook he is an sob debtfull
Favorite scene of the Third Man richsass
WHY do you love this film SO MUCH? ali8970
Several things I don't understand or can't be convinced mablecheng1981
I enjoy repeated viewings of this more than Citizen Kane peterduray-bito
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