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The Third Man

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The Third Man (1949), starring Joseph Cotton, Orson Welles
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The Third Man (1949), starring Joseph Cotton, Orson Welles

Synopsis of The Third Man

Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton, Citizen Kane ), a naïve writer of pulp westerns, arrives in Vienna to meet his old friend Harry Lime (the incomparable Orson Welles). But he finds that Lime has apparently been killed in a suspicious accident. Martins, too curious for his own good, hears contradictory stories about the circumstances of Limes’ death. As witnesses disappear, he finds himself chased by unknown assailants. Complicating matters are the sardonic Major Calloway (Trevor Howard, Brief Encounter), head of the British forces, and Lime’s stage actress mistress, Anna Schmidt (Alida Valli). Will Martin’s curiosity lead him to discover things about his old friend that he’d rather not know?

“In Italy for 30 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.”


  • Joseph Cotten (I’ll Be Seeing You) … Holly Martins
  • Alida Valli (Eyes Without a Face) … Anna Schmidt
  • Orson Welles (The Stranger) … Harry Lime
  • Trevor Howard (Von Ryan’s Express) … Maj. Calloway
  • Paul Hörbiger … Karl (as Paul Hoerbiger)
  • Ernst Deutsch (Isle of the Dead) … Baron Kurtz
  • Erich Ponto … Dr. Winkel
  • Siegfried Breuer Siegfried Breuer … Popescu
  • Hedwig Bleibtreu Hedwig Bleibtreu … Anna’s Landlady
  • Bernard Lee (The Man with the Golden Gun) … Sgt. Paine
  • Wilfrid Hyde-White (Chamber of Horrors) … Crabbin

Editorial review of The Third Man courtesy of

Classic thriller written by Graham Greene and starring Orson Welles in which a writer sets about investigating the death of a friend in post-World War II Vienna. Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten), a pulp Western writer, arrives in the Austrian capital expecting to take up a job with his old acquaintance, Harry Lime (Welles). When he is informed that Lime died a week previously in a car accident, Martins is intrigued by inconsistencies in the accounts of the death and decides that he can’t leave the city without investigating matters further. As a consequence, he finds himself drawn into a web of intrigue and searching for the elusive ‘third man’ who was at the scene of Lime’s death. When the head of the local military police, Major Calloway (Trevor Howard), informs him that Lime was involved in black market drug distribution, the plot thickens even further…

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