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The Third Man
The Third Man (1949) is a British film noir directed by Carol Reed. The screenplay was written by novelist Graham Greene. Greene wrote a novella of the same name in preparation for the screenplay, and this was published in 1950.
The story is set in the Austrian city of Vienna, just after the Second World War, when it was divided between the Allied powers of Britain, France, the USA and the USSR. The central character is pulp western
 author, Holly Martins, who is searching for an old friend, Harry Lime, who has offered him the opportunity to work for him in Vienna.
Upon arriving in Vienna, Holly Martins, an American pulp-novelist, heads to stay with a friend of his, Harry Lime, who offered him a job. When he arrives at Lime's apartment, Holly learns that Lime was killed by a truck while crossing the street the other day. Shocked, Holly heads to the cemetery to attend Harry's funeral, where he meets Major Calloway. After the services end, Calloway, a police officer, gives him a lift to the hotel, advising him to leave Vienna, as he can do nothing more than get himself into trouble.

After arriving at the hotel, Holly agrees to speak in front of a book club and arranges a meeting with a friend of Lime's. Holly meets the man, Kurtz, in a cafe in the city to discuss Harry's death. Kurtz shows Holly exactly what happened when Harry was killed. He says that he and another friend of Harry's picked him up and brought him over to the side of the street, where Harry asked them to take care of Holly and Anna, Harry's girlfriend. Kurtz tells Holly where Anna works, but advises against investigating.

Holly then heads to Anna's theatre and arranges a meeting with Anna. During the course of their conversation, Holly becomes suspicous and wonders if Harry's death was really accidental. Later, the porter tells Holly that there is no way Harry could have been alive immediately after getting hit by the truck due to the way his head was bent and that it was three men that carried Lime across the street, not two, as Baron said. Holly tries to get the porter to give his evidence to the police, but the porter refuses, eventually getting very upset with Holly and asks him to leave.
Holly walks Anna back to her apartment, where the police are searching her room. When they find a forged passport, they leave, taking Anna with them. Holly then speaks with the other witnesses, but learns nothing new.

When Anna and Holly arrive at the porter's apartment, they find that he has been murdered. The crowd around the building suspects Holly and chases him. Eventually, Holly gets away and is taken to talk at Crabbin's meeting, after which he flees from two suspicous looking men and eventually meets up with Calloway.

Major Calloway advises Holly to leave Vienna and, when Holly refuses, tells Holly about Harry Lime's racket. Calloway then reveals that Harry sold diluted penicillin to military hospitals and subsequently killed or injured many people. Holly, saddened by this new information, promises to leave Vienna. As Holly leaves, a Russian officer comes in, asking for Anna's passport so that they may arrest her.

Holly then heads back to Anna's apartment and tries, unsuccessfully, to win her back. Leaving her apartment, Holly hears Anna's cat mew, looks over, and can barely make out the man in the doorway, the cat rubbing against his legs. A moment later, a woman across the street opens her window to yell at Holly, spilling light on to the man in the doorway -- Harry Lime, alive and well. Harry takes off around the corner and disappears, prompting Holly to get Major Calloway, who determines that Harry had escaped to the sewers via a service entrance; he's been using the sewer tunnels to move about the city undetected. The police then dig up Harry's grave, only to find that Joseph Harbin has been buried in his place. The next day, Holly meets with Harry in an amusement park. They talk and Harry offers to bring Holly in on his racket.

Holly goes to the arranged meeting place, but plans to turn Harry over the police, in exchange for amnesty (and a train ticket) for Anna. Anna stays behind, and when Harry shows up, the police chase him down to the sewers, where he is eventually cornered and opens fire on Sgt. Paine, killing him. Harry is then shot by Major Calloway, but manages to drag himself up a staircase and up to a grating. Holly then takes Sgt. Paine's gun and corners Harry, shooting him. Holly attends Harry's second funeral. Afterwards, he waits to speak to Anna, but she simply walks past him.
Alternate version
As the original British release begins, an unnamed narrator (actually the voice of director Carol Reed) is heard describing post-war Vienna from the point of view of a racketeer. The version shown in American theatres replaced this with narration by Holly Martins. This change was made by David O. Selznick, who did not think American audiences would relate to the seedy tone of the original. In addition, eleven minutes were cut. Today, Reed's original version now appears on American DVDs and in showings on Turner Classic Movies. (both the Criterion Collection and Studio Canal releases include a comparison of the two opening monologues.)
The atmospheric use of black and white expressionist cinematography (by Robert Krasker), with harsh lighting and distorted camera angles, is a key feature of The Third Man. Combined with the unique musical theme, seedy locations, and acclaimed performances from the cast, the style evokes the atmosphere of an exhausted, cynical post-war Vienna at the start of the Cold War. The film's unusual camera angles, however, weren't always appreciated. C.A. Lejeune in the Observer described Reed's "habit of printing his scenes askew, with floors sloping at a diagonal and close-ups deliriously tilted" as "most distracting". Reputedly American director William Wyler, a close friend of Reed's, sent him a spirit level, with a note saying, "Carol, next time you make a picture, just put it on top of the camera, will you?".
The distinctive musical score was composed and played on the zither by Anton Karas. A single, "The Third Man Theme", released in 1950 (Decca in UK, London Records in USA) became a best-seller, and later an LP was released. Before the production came to Vienna, Karas was an unknown wine bar performer. Reed and Howard fell in love with Karas' zither after hearing him play inside a café. Karas agreed to record some of his own compositions on a reel-to-reel tape machine that Reed set up in the bedroom of his hotel; one of these was later to become the Harry Lime Theme and become a popular hit. The exposure made Karas an international star after the movie was released. Film critic Roger Ebert wrote, "Has there ever been a film where the music more perfectly suited the action than in Carol Reed's 'The Third Man'?"
The film won the 1949 Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival, a British Academy Award for Best Film, and an Academy Award for Best Black and White Cinematography in 1950.

The film was also voted the best British film of all time by the British Film Institute, while in 2004 the magazine Total Film named it the third greatest British film. The film also placed 57th on the American Film Institute's list of top American films, "100 Years... 100 Movies" in 1998, an accolade which is controversial because the film's only American connection was its executive co-producer, David O. Selznick; the other two, Sir Alexander Korda and Carol Reed, were British. In 2005, viewers of BBC Television's Newsnight Review voted the film their fourth most favourite of all time; it was the only film in the top five made prior to 1970.
The Third Man
Directed by
Carol Reed

Produced by
Alexander Korda, David O. Selznick

Written by
Graham Greene

Orson Welles
Joseph Cotten
Alida Valli
Trevor Howard
Wilfrid Hyde-White
Bernard Lee

Music by
Anton Karas

Editing by
Oswald Hafenrichter

Distributed by
British Lion Films (UK)
Text source in extracts:
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A 1040 Wien, Pressgasse 25
+43-(0)1- 586 48 72
The "third man private collection - 3mpc" is a privately run museum dedicated to the movie classic "The Third Man" shot in Vienna in 1948.

Ten rooms illustrate the movie's international success and the daily life in post-war Vienna showing a wide range of originals and documents.

This a living collection that grows and grows...
Please visit us from time to time on this website or in the
museum to see what's new.

The museum is a tribute to Graham Greene, Carol Reed, Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Anton Karas, Trevor Howard and ... Harry Lime!
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