Third Man on the Mountain ()

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A boy attempts to realize his father's dream of climbing an alpine peak known as the Citadel.


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Cast verified as complete

Captain John Winter
Rudi Matt
Lizbeth Hempel
Franz Lerner
Emil Saxo
Teo Zurbriggen
Klaus Wesselhoft
Herr Hempel
Frau Matt
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Young Woman Tourist (uncredited)
Italian Tourist (uncredited)
Leonard Fenton ...
John Gabriel ...
Paul - Guide (uncredited)
Tourist (uncredited)
James Ramsey Ullman ...
Tourist (uncredited)

Directed by

Ken Annakin ... (directed by)

Written by

Eleanore Griffin ... (screenplay by)
James Ramsey Ullman ... (book "Banner in the Sky")

Produced by

Bill Anderson ... producer (produced by) (as William H. Anderson)
Walt Disney ... producer (uncredited)
Alan Jaggs ... associate producer (as Alan L. Jaggs)

Music by

William Alwyn ... (music by)

Cinematography by

Harry Waxman ... director of photography

Editing by

Peter Boita ... film editor

Production Design by

John Howell

Production Management

Basil Keys ... production manager

Second Unit Director or Assistant Director

Gerry O'Hara ... assistant director (as Gerald O'Hara)
Gaston Rébuffat ... second unit director
Otto Plaschkes ... second assistant director (uncredited)

Art Department

Eddie Fowlie ... property master (uncredited)

Sound Department

Chris Greenham ... sound editor
Tom Otter ... boom operator (uncredited)

Visual Effects by

Peter Ellenshaw ... matte artist

Camera and Electrical Department

Georges Tairraz II ... photographer: mountain unit
Alec Mills ... focus puller (uncredited)
Trevor Wrenn ... clapper loader (uncredited)

Location Management

Bernhardt Biner ... location liaison: Zermatt

Music Department

Muir Mathieson ... conductor

Additional Crew

Mme. Derivaz ... choreographer
Walt Disney ... presenter
Gaston Rébuffat ... director: mountain unit
Crew verified as complete

Production Companies




Special Effects


Other Companies



Plot Summary

In 1865 Switzerland, a country mostly covered by high mountains, the main hobby is mountain-climbing. For some locals it's a personal passion and for others it's a lucrative business. Many tourists, mostly rich foreigners and explorers, come to Switzerland to attempt world records by climbing mountain peaks that have never been climbed or seldom been climbed before. Of course, some of these brave explorers lose their lives in their dangerous quests. The local Swiss villages provide experienced mountain guides and porters to the mountain climbers willing to pay the price, in coins or lives. Kurtal is such a small Swiss village located at the base of the famous Citadel mountain. The Citadel is the highest and the most dangerous peak in the region. Many have died trying to climb it but for the past 16 years no one has ventured on it. The last man to lose his life on the Citadel was the famous local mountain guide Josef Matt who died sacrificing himself in order to save the lives of his clients for whom he was serving as a guide. Josef's son, Rudi, is raised by his mother and by his uncle, Franz Lerner, who is also a professional mountain guide. Rudi is only 18 years old but he dreams of becoming a guide like his father. His family disapproves of Rudi's dangerous aspirations and relegate him to much safer jobs, such as being the dishwasher at the local motel run by Herr Hempel and his daughter Lizbeth. Often times, Rudi sneaks out of the kitchen to go climb smaller mountain peaks for exercise. Rudi knows the local rumor claiming that his father Josef had discovered a secret path to the summit of the Citadel on the day he died. Rudi hopes to one day climb the Citadel himself and find the secret path to the top his father supposedly discovered. One day, Rudi is at work washing dishes at the motel and he decides to sneak out of the kitchen in order to do a bit of mountain climbing. On the mountain, Rudi finds a stranded foreign tourist who got trapped when he fell onto a crag into a crevasse. Rudi throws a rope into the crevasse and saves the man who is none other than famed British mountain climber Capt. John Winter. The Captain thanks Rudi for saving his life and explains that accidents on the mountain could even happen to the most experienced climber. On their way back to town, Rudi and the Englishman pass by Rudi father's grave and the two pay their respects. The Captain reveals to Rudi that he believes in the dream of finding Josef's secret path to the top of the Citadel. In town, the Englishman hires Rudi's uncle Franz Lerner as a guide and convinces him to allow Rudi to come along as a porter. He also buys a new complete set of equipment and climbing gear for Rudy. Secretly, the foreigner wants to take a closer look at the famed and evil Citadel. When Rudi's uncle finds out the real aim of Capt. John Winter, he vehemently refuses to be the Englishman's guide to the Citadel. The Englishman leaves town and Rudi's uncle sells Rudi's new climbing gear that was gifted to Rudi by the foreigner. However, Rudi's girlfriend Lizbeth has purchased the hiking boots from Rudi's uncle and gives them back to Rudi. For the next few weeks Rudi undergoes a strict training in mountain climbing and guiding under the supervision of Teo Zurbriggen, Rudi father's old partner. Teo tells Rudi to never work for praise, glory and rewards but rather for the safety of his clients. Soon after, the locals spot two men, climbing the Citadel, through a telescope. One of them is Englishman John Winter and the other is Emil Saxo, a Swiss mountain guide from a nearby rival village. The next day, curious onlookers spot three men climbing the Citadel. With Rudi Matt gone from the village and nowhere to be found, the biggest question in everyone's mind is - who is the third man on the mountain ? Written by nufs68

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Additional Details

Also Known As
  • Banner in the Sky (United States)
  • Le Troisième Homme sur la montagne (France)
  • Der dritte Mann im Berg (Germany)
  • Escalada hacia la muerte (Spain)
  • Yama no ue no daisan no otoko (Japan)
  • See more »
  • 107 min
Official Sites
Aspect Ratio
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Filming Locations

Box Office

Budget $2,000,000 (estimated)

Did You Know?

Trivia The Matterhorn was an actual set location and actors and crew were required to climb the summit for filming. See more »
Goofs The amount of blood on Captain Winter's bandage keeps changing from scene to scene at the end of the movie. See more »
Movie Connections Featured in Perilous Assignment (1959). See more »
Soundtracks Climb the Mountain See more »
Quotes Emil Saxo: It's the end of it, for him. But it needn't be for us.
Franz Lerner: What do you mean?
Emil Saxo: Tomorrow the weather will be good, after that, who knows? If we leave at first dawn, we'll be there by eight. The boy will stay with him, he won't be left alone. And it's what he would want us to do.
Franz Lerner: It isn't a question of what he would want. A guide - at any rate, a guide of Kurtal - does not leave his client on a mountain and go on alone.
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