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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 105,672 users  
Reviews: 398 user | 210 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 Rated Movies #111 | 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 <mrt@oasis.icl.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


HUNTED...By a thousand men! Haunted...By a lovely girl! 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)


$449,191 (USA) (20 November 2015)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


During the shooting of the film, the final scene was the subject of a dispute between Greene, who wanted the happy ending of the novella, and Reed and David O. Selznick, who stubbornly refused to end the film on what they felt was an artificially happy note. Greene later wrote: "One of the very few major disputes between Carol Reed and myself concerned the ending, and he has been proved triumphantly right." See more »


Three cats were used for Harry Lime's only loved cat. But all three cats had different sizes and colors. See more »


Calloway: Go home Martins, like a sensible chap. You don't know what you're mixing in, get the next plane.
Martins: As soon as I get to the bottom of this, I'll get the next plane.
Calloway: Death's at the bottom of everything, Martins. Leave death to the professionals.
Martins: Mind if I use that line in my next Western?
See more »


Referenced in Carry on Spying (1964) See more »


The Third Man Theme
(1949) (uncredited)
Written by Anton Karas
Performed by Anton Karas on a zither
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Four men on a bridge
13 October 2004 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

A great deal has been said about "The Third Man" by contributors to this forum. Having seen the restored copy that was shown at the Film Forum, recently, I could not resist watching this masterpiece once more when it was shown by TCM, the other night.

This movie owes a debt of gratitude to Graham Greene, a writer who had the most developed sense of intrigue among his contemporaries and one of the best writers of the last century. It also helped that a great director, Carol Reed, brought it to the screen. Mr. Reed was a director who had an eye for detail, as he demonstrates here, as well as in the rest of the body of work he left for us to enjoy.

The screen play is faithful to the original novel. If to all of the other elements we add the fabulous cinematography of Robert Krasker, the result has to be the masterpiece we see today. Never before has a city taken center stage in the development of the story that is presented here. Mr. Krasker's wonderful night vision of this city enhances the story as we are taken along for a fantastic trip of the post war Vienna of 1949.

The casting of this film is amazing. Never had so many excellent actors been thrown together in a film, as it is the case as with this picture. Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Trevor Howard, Orson Welles, Bernard Lee, Ernst Deutsch, Paul Horbiger, Erich Ponto and Wilfred Hyde White are splendid in their roles. It is hard to imagine these characters played by other actors.

Orson Welles has perhaps the best part, even though his time before the camera is short. This must have been one of the best roles in which Welles appeared. Of course, there are so many others, but his Harry Lime is an original and could have fitted perfectly in one of his own films.

The music by Anton Karas is still haunting, with the exception of a few times at the beginning of a couple of scenes, when it startles the viewer and actually doesn't add anything to what we are about to see.

This film will live forever.

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Message Boards

Recent Posts
Great movie, horrible music! oxhan
Favorite scene of the Third Man richsass
point is Harry Lime's charisma makes people overlook he is an sob debtfull
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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