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The Third Man (1949)

Trailer
1:31 | Trailer
Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, Harry Lime.

Director:

Carol Reed

Writers:

Graham Greene (by), Graham Greene (screen play)
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Popularity
2,041 ( 1,611)
Top Rated Movies #179 | Won 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Joseph Cotten ... Holly Martins
Alida Valli ... Anna Schmidt (as Valli)
Orson Welles ... Harry Lime
Trevor Howard ... Maj. Calloway
Bernard Lee ... Sgt. Paine
Paul Hörbiger ... Karl - Harry's Porter (as Paul Hoerbiger)
Ernst Deutsch ... 'Baron' Kurtz
Siegfried Breuer ... Popescu
Erich Ponto ... Dr. Winkel
Wilfrid Hyde-White ... Crabbin
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 led 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:

You've never met anyone like him! (from reissue print ad) See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Initially cautious about Karas' music, Selznick sent this telegram to his VP from London.

"November 25, 1949 TELEGRAM to Daniel T. O'Shea [Executive VicePresident, Selznick Productions] ...Cannot commence to tell you sensation caused by Karas's zither music in The Third Man. It is rage of England and has already sold more record copies than any other record in entire history of record business in England. It is widest-played dance music in England... Ads here use "Hear Harry Lime Theme," etc. in type dwarfing all other billing. It is one of those unpredictable, tremendous sensations that I cannot expect any of you to understand who have not been here. Entirely unrelated newspaper articles and editorials, even on politics, constantly refer to it. Inevitably, this success will be repeated America if we are prepared for it. We should be able to make fortune out of this music". Regards, David

By the time Selznick released the film in the U.S., in February 1950, the "Harry Lime Theme" was already a sensation. He capitalized on this by including the tag line "Featuring the Famous Zither Score by Anton Karas...He"ll have in you a dither with his zither!" in the ad campaign and trailers. See more »

Goofs

In two instances, shadows caused by back lighting don't match the scene. When the little boy is following Holly and Anna you see his shadow on the wall, and then it is on the street simultaneously when he rounds the corner. The shadows are made by two separate persons. Later, when the old balloon man appears, you see his shadow on the buildings, but the shadow shows no balloons. However, when the old man appears from around the corner his balloons show definite shadows on the pavement. See more »

Quotes

Holly Martins: l'm just a hack writer who drinks too much and - falls in love with girls. You.
Anna Schmidt: Me?
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Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: V I E N N A See more »

Alternate Versions

The film was dubbed in German for the first time in 1949 with Wolfgang Lukschy for Joseph Cotten and Friedrich Joloff for Orson Welles. Additionally, all German speaking actors dubbed themselves. In 1963 the film was redubbed (presumably for legal reasons) by Atlas Film (with Horst Niendorf for Cotten and Werner Peters for Welles). This version also replaces the opening credits. See more »

Connections

Referenced in MacGyver: Trail to Doomsday (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

The Third Man Theme
(1949) (uncredited)
Written by Anton Karas
Performed by Anton Karas on a zither
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User Reviews

 
A movie ahead of its time
26 June 1999 | by mmt02See 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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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | German | Russian

Release Date:

12 October 1949 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

The 3rd Man See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$13,576, 9 May 1999

Gross USA:

$1,067,364

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,226,098
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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