Television in the late 1950's and in the early 1960's,if most of us may remember it were in shades in gray,and the only thing that was composed during the early stages of that period were the occasional variety show that were broadcast from either New York or Hollywood,and also during that period were situation family comedies and the regular detective-mystery show and all over the place at the time...the television western. In 1959,westerns dominated the television landscape with "Gunsmoke" and "Wagon Train" being at the top of the ratings and were the most watched shows during that time. Not to mention the airing of classic movies of the 1930's and 1940's which were the norm at the time for prime viewing. But the end of the 1950's,all that would change.
The adventure-mystery-espionage TV series "The Third Man" would seem like a odd choice for a movie to adapt into a television series. The Carol Reed-directed 1949 thriller,was,after all,about a notorious criminal Harry Lime,and his plot to convince Interpol and the Vienna police that he was dead,to allow him to continue his corrupt activities. A film that was rich in atmosphere,with a unforgettable sewer chase finale,and a haunting,yet lifting zither theme,it seemed to offer little to hinge a television series on. Harry Lime was one of those sinister characters of literature who was cleaned up considerably for television. As introduced by Graham Greene's novel,The Third Man portray Lime as a treacherous man,a double-dealer whose only saving grace that he usually swindled con men and lowlifes who were more despicable them himself. Harry could be charming,but he always had an angle somewhere.
Television turned this blackheart into a suave and debonair ladies' man who was head of an import-export company based in New York,but each week traveled around the world acquiring works of art and solving mysteries and crimes. His criminal past was acknowledged,but in some episodes could be on the bit of the shady side when dealing with opposite end of his clients,whether they were lowlifes and others of the sort,which Harry ended up in a situation or two each week. The series starred Michael Rennie as Harry Lime and Jonathan Harris as Lime's assistant Bradford Webster. "The Third Man",which was produced in conjunction with the BBC(British Broadcasting Corporation),and in collaboration with 20th Century-Fox Studios,was produced by National Telefilm Associates that produced 77 episodes,all in black and white that ran in syndication from January 23,1959 until August 27,1965. Seasons 1 thru 3 episodes were produced in England for the BBC at Shepperton Studios. 20 episodes were made for Season 1 and 19 for Season 2(39 episodes),while Season 3 produced 5 episodes(total of 44 episodes). Seasons 4 and 5 were produced in Hollywood at Twentieth Century-Fox Studios. Season 4 produced 17 episodes(total of 61 episodes) while in its final season,which was Season 5 produced 13 episodes(total of 74 episodes),which included 3 that never aired during its original broadcast("Proxy Fight",and the two-part final episode of the series "Members Only"-episodes 75,76,and 77).
The best episodes from this series included "Confessions of an Honest Man","The Man Who Died Twice","A Question of Price","Dark Island","How To Buy A Country","As The Twig Is Bent","Broken Strings","One Kind Word","Toys of the Dead","Barcelona Passage","A Diamond In The Rough", "An Act of Atonement","Who Killed Harry Lime?","The Trial of Harry Lime","Man At The Top","A Little Knowledge","A Question In Ice".
Guest stars for this series comprised of both international and American actors that included Mai Zetterling,Sebastian Cabot,Ross Martin,Oliver Reed,Eric Pohlman,Frank DeKova,Laurance Naismith,Robert Sherman,Barbara Shelley,John Wengraf,Moria Redmond,Betta St. John,Sydney Tafler,not to mention actor Guy Williams.
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