Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Third Man
The story is set in a bomb-damaged Vienna just after the Second World War and is told from the point of view of a mildly successful pulp author, Holly Martins, who is searching for his friend Harry Lime.
The atmospheric use of black and white cinematography (by Robert Krasker ), harsh lighting, distorted camera angles, combined with the unique musical theme and excellent performances from the cast, all serve to convey the atmosphere of post-War Vienna, creating the tension inherent in the story, and making this one of Reed's best-loved films.
The distinctive musical score was composed and played on the zither by Anton Karas (1906 – 1985). A single The Third Man Theme released in 1950 (Decca in UK, London Records in USA) became a bestseller, and later an LP was released.
- Orson Welles as Harry Lime
- Joseph Cotten as Holly Martins
- Alida Valli as Anna Schmidt
- Trevor Howard as Major Calloway
- Wilfred Hyde-White as Crabbin
- Bernard Lee as Sgt. Paine
- Erich Ponto as Dr. Winkel
- Ernst Deutsch as Kurtz
- Siegfried Breuer as Popescu
The film was also voted the best British film of all time by the British Film Institute, and in public opinion polls is consistently placed in the top ten British films of all time. In 1999 it came 1st in a BFI poll of British films, while in 2004 the magazine Total Film named it the 3rd greatest British film.
Adaptations and spin-offs
A radio drama series called The Third Man and centering on the adventures of Harry Lime (voiced by Welles) prior to his "death in Vienna" ran for a number of seasons.
A television series was later created out of the film, with Michael Rennie starring as Harry Lime.
Looking down upon the people beneath from his vantage point on top of the Riesenrad, the large Ferris wheel in the Prater amusement park, Lime compares them to ants. Back on the ground, he makes the now famous remark:
"In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed – they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."
Graham Greene has confessed that this remark was not his own invention, but rather Orson Welles' contribution to the script. (The impact of Lime's statement is in some ways enhanced by the fact that the cuckoo clock is in fact a German invention, and the Swiss do not even have that to their credit.)
Such is Orson Welles's fame as a director that many people erroneously believe that Welles directed the film.
At the beginning of the film, Martins discovers that his old friend Harry Lime, who he had not seen in several years, has died under mysterious circumstances just prior to Martins' arrival in Vienna. He finds that there was more to Lime than he knew and that he was accused of being a black-market racketeer, trafficking in poor quality penicillin. Martins is told that Lime was struck by a truck while crossing a street. On several accounts, two of Lime's friends carried Lime's body off the street after the accident. All eyewitnesses to the accident happen to be friends or associates of Lime. Martins' investigation leads to another eyewitness not associated with Lime who claims that there was a third man who helped carry Lime's body. It is this "third man", Joseph Harbin, that the title of the film (which is essentially an elaborate MacGuffin) refers to. It is a common misconception that Harry Lime himself is the "third man".
Although it can be said that because Joseph Harbin was actually the one that was hit by the truck, and Harry Lime apparently helped carry Harbin away, perhaps it is not entirely unreasonable to refer to Harry as the "Third Man."
Before writing the screenplay, Greene worked out the atmosphere, characterization and mood of the story by writing a novella. This was written purely to be used as a source-text to create the screenplay and was never intended to be read by the general public, although it was ultimately published by Penguin Books.
The narrator in the novella is Calloway, which does give the book a slightly different emphasis from the screenplay. A small portion of his narration (given to Martins in the American release, and to an unidentified, unseen and never-returned-to character in the British release) is retained in a modified form at the very beginning of the movie, the part in which a voiceover declaims: "I never knew the old Vienna ...".
Other differences include: the nationality of both Martins and Lime is English in the book, and Martins' first name is Rollo rather than Holly. Popescu's character is an American called Cooler.
Perhaps the most fundamental difference is the end of the novella, in which it is implied that Anna and Rollo/Holly are about to begin a new life together, in stark contrast to the unmistakable snub that makes the end of the movie so memorable. Anna does walk away from Lime's grave in the book, but the text continues: "I watched him striding off on his overgrown legs after the girl. He caught her up and they walked side by side. I don't think he said a word to her: it was like the end of a story. He was a very bad shot and a very bad judge of character, but he had a way with Westerns (a trick of tension) and with girls (I wouldn't know what)."
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details