🎥 The Third Man – 1949

The Story …

Holly Martins, an American author of western fiction, arrives in post-World War II Vienna seeking his childhood friend, Harry Lime, who has offered him a job.

However, Martins is told that Lime has been killed by a car while crossing the street.

At Lime’s funeral, Martins meets two British Royal Military Police: Sergeant Paine, a fan of Martins’s books, and Major Calloway …


Afterward, Martins is asked by Mr Crabbin to lecture at a book club a few days later. He then meets a friend of Lime’s, “Baron” Kurtz, who tells Martins that he and another friend, a Romanian called Popescu, carried Lime to the side of the street after the accident.

Before he died, Lime asked them to take care of Martins as well as Lime’s girlfriend, actress Anna Schmidt.

As Martins and Anna query Lime’s death, they realise that accounts differ as to whether Lime was able to speak before his death, and whether two men carried away the body, or three.

The porter at Lime’s apartment tells them that he saw a third man helping carry away the body. Later, the porter offers to give Martins more information, but he is murdered before Martins can talk to him.

Martins confronts Major Calloway and demands that Lime’s death be investigated. Calloway reveals that Lime was stealing penicillin from military hospitals with the help of an orderly, diluting it, then selling it on the black market, injuring or killing countless adults and children.

Martins, convinced by hard evidence, agrees to drop his investigation and leave.

That evening, Martins visits Anna, with whom he is falling in love. Outside, a man crosses the street towards her front door, but moves away after seeing Martins at the window.

After leaving, Martins walks the streets, until he notices Anna’s cat and realises someone is watching from a darkened doorway.

In a momentary flash of light, Martin sees that the man is Harry Lime. Martins calls out but Lime flees and vanishes. Martins summons Calloway, who realises that Lime has escaped through the city’s extensive sewers.

The British police exhume Lime’s coffin and discover that the body is that of the missing orderly who stole the penicillin for Lime. Anna, who is Czech, is to be sent to the Soviet sector, and is questioned again by Calloway.

Martins meets Lime and they ride the Wiener Riesenrad. Lime obliquely threatens Martins before leaving quickly. Calloway then asks Martins to help arrest Lime.

Martins agrees to help on one condition, demanding Anna’s safe conduct out of Vienna. Anna is about to leave on the train when she spots Martins, who has come to observe her departure. She forces the plan out of him but wants no part of it.

Exasperated, Martins decides to leave Vienna, but on the way to the airport, Calloway stops at a hospital to show Martins children crippled or dying of meningitis who were treated with Lime’s diluted penicillin. Martins again agrees to help the police .

Lime arrives at a small café to meet Martins, but Anna is able to warn Lime that the police are closing in.

He tries again to escape using the sewer tunnels, but the police are prepared and pursue him below ground. Lime shoots and kills Sgt. Paine, but Calloway shoots and badly wounds Lime. Injured, Lime drags himself up a cast-iron stairway to a street grating; however, he cannot lift it.

Martins finds Lime at the grating and they exchange a look. They hear Calloway shouting that Martins must take no chances and that if he finds Lime he must shoot him on sight.

Trapped, and still looking at his old friend, Harry nods his head slightly and Martins shoots and kills him, using Paine’s pistol.

Martins attends Lime’s second funeral, at the risk of missing his flight out of Vienna. He waits on the cemetery path to speak with Anna, but she ignores him, walking past without glancing in his direction …

Credits :

  • Directed by Carol Reed
  • Screenplay by Graham Greene
  • Produced by Carol Reed, Alexander Korda and David O. Selznick
  • Cinematography : Robert Krasker
  • Edited by Oswald Hafenrichter
  • Music by Anton Karas
  • Production Company : London Films
  • Distributed by British Lion Film Corporation
  • Release Date : 1 September 1949

Cast :

  • Orson Welles as Harry Lime
  • Joseph Cotten as Holly Martins
  • Alida Valli as Anna Schmidt
  • Trevor Howard as Major Calloway
  • Paul Hörbiger as Karl, Lime’s porter
  • Ernst Deutsch as “Baron” Kurtz
  • Erich Ponto as Dr. Winkel
  • Siegfried Breuer as Popescu
  • Hedwig Bleibtreu as Anna’s old landlady
  • Bernard Lee as Sergeant Paine
  • Wilfrid Hyde-White as Crabbin
  • Annie Rosar as the porter’s wife
  • Alexis Chesnakov as Brodsky, Russian official
  • Herbert Halbik as Little Hansel – Boy with Ball
  • Robert Brown as British Military Policeman in the sewer chase scene
  • Paul Hardtmuth as the hall porter at Hotel Sacher
  • Geoffrey Keen as British Military Policeman
  • Eric Pohlmann as waiter at Smolka’s
  • Reed De Rouen as American Military Policeman at Railway Station
  • Brother Theodore as Man on Street
  • Nelly Arno as Kurtz’s mother
  • Karel Štěpánek as actor at Josefstadt Theatre
  • Joseph Cotten as the narrator
  • Carol Reed as the narrator

Film Information Source :


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