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The Third Man (1949)

8.4
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Ratings: 8.4/10 from 89,809 users  
Reviews: 367 user | 178 critic

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

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Title: The Third Man (1949)

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Top 250 #99 | Won 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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 <mrt@oasis.icl.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Hunted by men...Sought by WOMEN! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

31 August 1949 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

The 3rd Man  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£17,856 (UK) (16 July 1999)

Gross:

$596,349 (USA) (17 December 1999)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Orson Welles evaded production assistants and assistant director Guy Hamilton while traveling in Europe when he was supposed to be on location filming in Vienna. During Welles' unexpected absence, Carol Reed had to film around him, getting numerous spectacular shots in the sewers seen in the finished film. Numerous body doubles for Welles were used, included Hamilton, who was made to wear an over-sized hat and padded coat to approximate Welles' larger size. Reed himself doubled for Welles' hands when they reach through the sewer grate. When Welles finally arrived, he was 2 weeks late. See more »

Goofs

After Calloway has shown Martins the evidence against Lime, Calloway picks up the phone. We hear his line, "Get me police headquarters," but we don't see his lips move. See more »

Quotes

Harry Lime: Nobody thinks in terms of human beings. Governments don't. Why should we? They talk about the people and the proletariat, I talk about the suckers and the mugs - it's the same thing. They have their five-year plans, so have I.
Martins: You used to believe in God.
Harry Lime: Oh, I still do believe in God, old man. I believe in God and Mercy and all that. But the dead are happier dead. They don't miss much here, poor devils.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Wer war der dritte Mann...? (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
A movie ahead of its time
26 June 1999 | by (Boston) – See all my reviews

The Third Man is a movie that looks and feels not like a movie of the 40s, but like a neo-noir of the late 60s/early 70s. This wonderful example of classic noir is one of the all time greatest films. It combines amazing visuals, sounds, dialogue, and acting to tell a thrilling story and comment about the atmosphere after WWII.

Of all the movies durring the studio era (pre-1960ish), there are three movies with cinematography that always stick out in my mind: Gregg Toland's work in Citizen Kane, Russel Mety's work in Touch of Evil, and Robert Krasker's work in The Third Man (all starring Orson Welles funny enough). I just recently saw a restored 35mm version of The Third Man. The crisp black and white visuals of a bombed out Vienna are so breath-taking. Shadows are everywhere. The unique way Krasker tilts the camera in some shots adding to the disorientation of the plot. And who can forget the first close-up of Welles with the light from an apartment room above splashing onto his face; one of the great entrances in movie history (Lime gives his old friend a smile that only Welles could give).

The cinematography is backed by strong performances by Welles, Cotten, and italian actress Vali. The writing of Greene is wonderful; you can see the plot twisting around Cotten tightly. But what makes The Third Man so great is its historical commentary (well not really historical since it was commenting on its own time, but to us it is historical). On one level The Third Man is a story of betrayal and corruption in a post-war, occupied Vienna. On the other hand, its giving the audience a glimpse of the mood of Europe after the great war. The uncertainty that the Cold War was bringing is evident through out the film; Cotten is constantly trying to figure out who to trust. Vienna is on the frontier of the new communist bloc (we even see the communists infiltrating Vienna trying to bring Vali back to her native Czechoslavakia). The zither music score combined with the stark images of bombed out Vienna are reminiscent of the frontier towns of American Westerns. So The Third Man is not only a wonderful film noir, but a unique look at the brief time between WWII and the height of the Cold War.


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