Uploaded on Oct 26, 2007
Release dates, September 2, 1949 UK 2 January 1950 USA
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'?"
And I would say that never an introduction to the sadness reality was presented so well.
While musics plays, various documentary-style shots of post-war, divided, fragmented and occupied Vienna (a 'frontier' city dividing East and West - and governed by four Allied forces) are surveyed, an anonymous voice-over delivers a first-person prologue. Director Carol Reed in the original UK version. Joseph Cotten delivers prologue in US version.
- (Lines only found in the UK version)
- [CAPITAL LETTER only in the US version.]
I never knew the old Vienna before the war, with its Strauss music, its glamour and [ITS] easy charm -- (Constantinople suited me better.) I really got to know it in the classic period of the Black Market. [Boots, stockings, cigarettes, and watches exchange hands.] [THEY COULD GET ANYTHING IF PEOPLE WANTED IT ENOUGH AND HAD THE MONEY TO PAY] (We'd run anything, if people wanted it enough- mmm - had the money to pay.) Of course, a [THE] situation like that does tempt amateurs, but [OF COURSE, THEY DON'T LAST LONG, NOT REALLY, NOT LIKE PROFESSIONALS ] (you know they can't stay the course like a professional.) [A view of a dead body floating in an icy river.] Now the city - [A sign announces: "ENTERING THE AMERICAN ZONE."] it's [IS] divided into four zones, you know, each occupied by a power - [Views of signs of the British, Russian, and French zones.] the American, the British, the Russian, and the French. But the center of the city - that's international, policed by an International Patrol, [A view of guard's duty being changed.] one member of each of the four powers. Wonderful. [ YOU CAN IMAGINE WHAT A CHANCE THEY HAD ], (What a hope they had), all OF THEM strangers to the place and (none) [NO TWO] of them (could speak) [SPEAKING] the same language, (except a sort of smattering of German.) [Four guards in a jeep each represent their nationalities.] [OH, THEY WERE] Good fellows on the whole, did their best, (you know.) [Views of bombed-out sites around Vienna.] Vienna doesn't (really) look any worse than a lot of other European cities, bombed (about a bit) [A LITTLE, OF COURSE]. [Views of soldiers on guard, and then standing on parade and marching in a square.] (Oh, I was gonna tell you, wait, I was gonna tell you about Holly Martins, an American. Came all the way here to visit a friend of his. The name is Lime, Harry Lime. Now Martins was broke and Lime had offered him some sort - I don't know - some sort of a job. Anyway, there he was, poor chap, happy as a lark and without a cent.) [ANYWAY, I WAS DEAD BROKE WHEN I GOT TO VIENNA. A CLOSE PAL OF MINE HAD WIRED ME, OFFERING ME A JOB DOING PUBLICITY WORK FOR SOME KIND OF CHARITY HE WAS RUNNING. I'AM A WRITER, NAME'S MARTINS, HOLLY MARTINS. ANYWAY DOWN I CAME, ALL THE WAY TO OLD VIENNE, HAPPY AS A LARKAND WITHOUT A DIME.