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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 »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

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

This film tops the "BFI 100", a list of 100 of "the best British films ever" compiled by the British Film Institute (in 1999/2000). Paradoxically, it is also included (at #57) on the American Film Institute's Top 100 American films" list compiled in 1996. See more »

Goofs

The line about the cuckoo clock being Switzerland's only contribution to culture is factually incorrect: the cuckoo clock comes from the Black Forest, across the border in southwestern Germany. See more »

Quotes

Calloway: Go home Martins, like a sensible chap. You don't know what you're mixing in, get the next plane.
Martins: As soon as I get to the bottom of this, I'll get the next plane.
Calloway: Death's at the bottom of everything, Martins. Leave death to the professionals.
Martins: Mind if I use that line in my next Western?
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Referenced in The Long Goodbye (1973) 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

 
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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