The Third Man

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The Third Man is a 1949 British film noir directed by Carol Reed and starring Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles, and Trevor Howard. The screenplay was written by novelist Graham Greene, later becoming his novella of the same name. Anton Karas wrote the score, which used only the zither; its title cut topped the international music charts in 1950.



Vienna, devastated by and recovering from World War II, is divided into four separate zones, each governed by one of the victorious Allies, and a jointly-administered international zone. American pulp Western writer Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) arrives seeking an old friend, Harry Lime (Orson Welles), who has offered him the opportunity to work with him there.

Arriving at Lime's apartment, Martins discovers that Lime was recently hit and killed by a lorry while crossing the street. Shocked, Martins heads to the cemetery to attend his friend's funeral, where he meets two British Army Royal Military Policemen: Sergeant Paine (Bernard Lee), a fan of Martins's books, and his superior, Major Calloway (Trevor Howard). After the services, Martins accepts an invitation to speak to the members of a local book club, delaying his departure to do so. He is contacted by a friend of Lime's, Baron Kurtz (Ernst Deutsch), who wants to talk about Lime's death. Kurtz relates that he and Popescu (Siegfried Breuer), another friend of Lime's, had picked Lime up after the accident and brought him over to the side of the street, where before dying he had asked them to take care of Martins and Anna, his actress girlfriend. Kurtz mentions the theatre where Anna (Alida Valli) works, but advises that the case is pointless to pursue and best left.

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