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The Third Man (1949)

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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
3,619 ( 288)
Top Rated Movies #169 | 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:

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


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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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 »

Filming Locations:

Austria See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$13,576, 9 May 1999

Gross USA:

$1,067,364

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,225,424
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

Upon arriving in Vienna, Martins says that he will be staying with Lime at Stiftgasse 15, which is in the Josefstadt section of the city. Lime's apartment, though, is located at Josefplatz 5 in the city's central district, directly across the street from the statue of Emperor Joseph II and about a mile away from Stiftgasse 15. See more »

Quotes

British MP: I'm sorry, Miss, it's orders. We can't go against the protocol.
Anna Schmidt: I don't even know what protocol means.
British MP: Neither do I, Miss.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Alternate Versions

The UK version features introductory voice-over by the director Carol Reed; in the US version Joseph Cotten provides the voice-over, as his character Holly Martins. The UK version runs 104 minutes, versus the US version at 93 minutes, which was cut by producer David O. Selznick to give the film a tighter pace. Both versions have been released on video in the U.S., but as of today the most common is the longer British cut. A video comparison between the narrations appears on the U.S. Criterion Collection DVD. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Monk: Mr. Monk and the Candidate: Part 1 (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Another overrated "masterpiece"
10 May 1999 | by MankinSee all my reviews

I've always thought "The Third Man" (**1/2 out of ****) one of the most overrated movies I've ever seen 4 or 5 times. Setting aside the admittedly dazzling photography and editing, we have a plot that's as difficult to follow and riddled with holes and loose ends as the one for "The Big Sleep." If we assume that Harry Lime is the "third man" who drove the truck that killed the medical orderly that was informing on him to the police (in fact, this is never made clear), wouldn't it have been a simple matter for the authorities (or anyone else) to identify the body and discover that it was not Harry Lime? Didn't the police interview the driver of the truck? How could Lime and his cohorts have possibly gotten away with the faking of his death when he was the most notorious and sought after racketeer in Vienna? The pretext for Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton) being in the city at all is awfully weak. (The narration mentions a vague "some sort of a job.") Why would Harry want a friend from America that he hasn't seen for 10 years to come to Vienna to write about his operations? The less publicity the better it would seem to me. It's also extremely ambiguous whether or not his mistress (Alida Valli) knew that Harry was dead. The first time that Martins sees Lime he's lingering outside her apartment house as if waiting to go in, and then she does everything she can to make sure that Harry eludes the authorities. In fact, her obtuse behavior throughout the film is baffling. (I'm inclined to believe that she was in on the whole deception.) Perhaps Carol Reed and co. needed audacious cinematic razzle-dazzle and oblique dialogue to cover up the fact that their story makes minimal sense. And that jangling zither music! Time and again it intrudes upon scenes that were meant to evoke tension and atmosphere and dissipates both. After the 4th or 5th repetition of the "Third Man Theme", I was ready to turn on the "mute" button! (These comments are based on the original 104 minute version.)


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