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The Third Man (1949)

Not Rated | | Film-Noir, Mystery, Thriller | 31 August 1949 (UK)
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Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, Harry Lime.

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Top Rated Movies #126 | Won 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Anna Schmidt (as Valli)
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Karl - Harry's Porter (as Paul Hoerbiger)
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'Baron' Kurtz
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Dr. Winkel
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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:

He'll have you in a dither with his zither! (from reissue print) See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Details

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Language:

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Release Date:

31 August 1949 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

The 3rd Man  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$13,576 (USA) (9 May 1999)

Gross:

$449,191 (USA) (22 November 2015)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

David O. Selznick insisted the filmmakers use Alida Valli for the female lead. Actually, Carol Reed and Alexander Korda were happy with the choice. Selznick became dissatisfied that Reed had Valli wear more plain clothes, wanting her to look glamorous and beautiful throughout. Reed won out on this aspect, due to the support of Korda. See more »

Goofs

As Martins arrives at the funeral, he asks Maj. Calloway who the funeral is for. A black tombstone is seen behind Martins. When he walks towards the grave and stands by Anna, the same tombstone is seen behind her. This occurred because both of those scenes were not filmed on location in Vienna, but later at Shepperton Studios, which only had very few fake tombstones available. See more »

Quotes

Calloway: Next time we'll have a foolproof coffin.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Referenced in Juliet Bravo: The Third Man (1981) See more »

Soundtracks

Das Alte Lied
(1931) (uncredited)
Music by Henry Love
Lyrics by Fritz Löhner-Beda
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Nobody thinks in terms of human beings. Governments don't. Why should we?
2 August 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The Third Man is directed by Carol Reed and written by Graham Greene. It stars Joseph Cotton, Alida Valli, Trevor Howard and Orson Welles. Music is by Anton Karas and cinematography by Robert Krasker.

When writer Holly Martins (Cotton) travels to Vienna to hook up with his childhood friend Harry Lime (Welles), he is distressed to find that Harry has been killed in a road accident. After attending the funeral, Holly comes to believe that Harry's death was no accident and begins to try and clear his friend's name. But nothing is as it first seems.....

It's well over 60 years since it was released and Carol Reed's film noir thriller continues to feel fresh and hold up under the closest of critical scrutiny. A haunting tale as it is anyway, the black market racketeers and penicillin tampering bastards leaving an unsavoury taste in the mouth, but the film is still further boosted by the director's ability to craft unnerving atmosphere by way of style and clinically paced passages of play. Performances are superlative across the board, with the film producing equal amounts of iconography and mischievous myth-making. It stuns with the narrative structure unfolding amongst a post war ravaged Vienna that dovetails with the fractured nature of the human characters.

A maze of moist cobbled streets host chases involving man and long shadows, there's a fairground scene that is now steeped in folklore, which in turn is a witness to the banality of evil, and of course those cavernous sewers, home to such sullen tones. Reed brings the canted angles, with moral decay the order of the day and a side order of confusion to finally fill your noir hungry bellies. Krasker deals in expressionistic chiaroscuro as Karas plucks away at his Zither to land in your ears for eternity. A murder mystery, a pained romance and a suspense laden film noir, The Third Man is enduring in its qualities. Cuckoo clock and cat, shadowed doorway and the lone sombre walk of a female, it's still today entertaining the film purist masses and still being pored over by film makers home and abroad. The Third Man, it's a masterpiece by jove. 10/10


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