Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.note Cuckoo clocks were actually invented in Bavaria, Germany. Sorry, Harry.
1949 British Film Noir set in post-war Vienna that was directed by Carol Reed from a story by Graham Greene and starring Joseph Cotten, Alida Vali, Trevor Howard, and Orson Welles,Down-on-his-luck American writer Holly Martins (Cotten) arrives in postwar Vienna to meet with an old friend, Harry Lime (Welles), who has offered him a job. Unfortunately, the day Martins arrives, he finds out that Lime is dead.Martins becomes entangled in a web of stories that make his pulp Westerns seem quaint in comparison. Investigating the death of his friend in order to clear his name from the selling of stolen and diluted penicillin he meets Lime's former love interest, a seemingly crooked cop, and a porter who has seen far too much. Martin's quest to clear the name of his friend drags him into dangerous territory and challenges his preconceived notions of good and evil.The story takes many of the tropes commonly associated with Film Noir and plays with them. The film is also notorious for Orson Welles stealing the show in the final act, and for its hypnotic music score by zitherist Anton Karas (whose title theme became a huge hit).Led to the Radio Drama series The Lives Of Harry Lime.
All Girls Want Bad Boys: Anna gets the same lecture on how evil Harry is as Martins, but that doesn't make her any less worshipful of him. Her justification: "A person doesn't change just because you learn more about them." Apparently, Anna doesn't do Fridge Logic. Harry was always a sociopath. Though the reason she loves him, forging her papers and thus letting her stay in Vienna longer, stands regardless of what else Harry did.
Amusement Park: Lime gives the "cuckoo clock" speech inside the Ferris wheel at the city's Wurstelprater park.
Beleaguered Childhood Friend: The whole plot is essentially built around this relationship between Holly and Lime - except that Lime is believed to be already dead.
Lime: Victims? Don't be melodramatic. Look down there. Tell me. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you twenty thousand pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money, or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man. Free of income tax - the only way you can save money nowadays.
Dirty Communists: A light example, but Anna faces deportation from the Russians for being from Czechoslovakia. Lime also mentions he does some work for the Soviets, in return for them turning a blind eye to his activities.
Fake Shemp: Orson Welles dithered on showing up to Vienna for filming, arriving two weeks after shooting started. To shoot around this, others dressed in Welles' costume (appropriately padded to approximate Welles' emerging girth) for long shots.
Inverted in an odd way- Graham Greene's novel, written at the same time as the screenplay, has a moderately happy ending.
A double inversion, actually. Producer David O. Selznick, who was known for happy Hollywood-style endings, insisted upon the bleak Did Not Get the Girl finale, even though screenwriter Greene, whose writing style was known for being incredibly depressing, originally intended to have the movie end with Anna embracing Holly after the funeral.
Manipulative Bastard: Lime constantly uses people (notably Anna and Martins) and will throw them away without a thought when they're no longer useful to him.
Mercy Kill: Lime wordlessly asks Martins to shoot him once it's clear there's no escape.
Mistaken for Special Guest: Martins is believed to be a more famous author by the character Crabbin. This is more developed in the novel, in which the rather macho Martins writes under a pseudonym who shares a surname with a famous novelist known for a "feminine" writing style (according to Word of God, the famous novelist was a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of the very gay E.M. Forster)
Not My Driver: Subverted. Holly thinks his cabby is abducting him and is working for the conspiracy because he Drives Like Crazy and doesn't answer any of his questions, but the guy's really just driving him to the lecture he was scheduled to do (and is extremely late for) and doesn't speak English.
Not So Different: "If I offered you $20,000 for every one of those dots that stopped moving, would you really tell me to keep my money, or would you start calculating how many dots you could afford to spare?"
Opening Narration: Done in the original UK release by director Carol Reed, and in the US version by Joseph Cotten.
P.O.V. Sequel: The screenwriter (author Graham Greene) wrote a book that was published to coincide with the film release with the British officer's POV. There was also a radio serial with Lime's exploits entitled The Adventures of Harry Lime.
Putting on the Reich: Many modern viewers may have noticed that the Vienna policemen's uniforms are original Third Reich police and army uniforms with merely the swastikas removed. It's Truth in Television; the film was made in 1949, and the police and armies had not yet been issued any updated uniforms so early after the war (not even for the filming). These uniforms would remain until well into the 50s.
Pyrrhic Victory: Lime dies, Sgt. Paine dies, Martins Did Not Get the Girl, and said girl will most probably be deported back to Czechoslovakia to face Soviet law. Furthermore, the children who suffer from Lime's diluted penicillin will not get saved by Lime getting neutralized either. But hey, at least future patients will be save from Lime's diluted medicines, and this counts as well!
Reality Has No Subtitles: It is famously used in order to emphasize how totally out of his area the American main character is when he visits Vienna.
Scenery Porn / Scenery Gorn: The production put a genuine and bombed-out Vienna to good use. About the only scenes outside of interior shots not shot actually on location were some of the shots set the scenes in the Vienna sewers (much of the sequence were actually filmed in Vienna's sewers [the Wienkanal storm-runoff system, to be precise], with the sewer cops being genuine off-duty Vienna sewer patrol officers — some shots were recreations due to Orson Welles being two weeks late for shooting — thereby missing the bulk of the chase sequence filming — and his unwillingness to go down into the sewers himself.)
Sissy Villain: Lime's associate Kurtz certainly has his share of signifiers.