Trivia / The Third Man

  • AFI's 100 Years... Series:
  • Money, Dear Boy: Orson Welles took the role as Harry Lime in order to fund his film adaptation of Othello. Also crosses over into What Might Have Been, in that Welles was offered either a straight paycheck or a third of the film's gross. He took the paycheck (being desperate for cash), but considering how huge a hit the movie was, had he taken the percentage, he might never have had to do paycheck work again.
  • Reality Subtext: Graham Greene used to work for British Intelligence in WW2, where his boss and friend was the Double Agent Kim Philby. It's been speculated that Lime (a charismatic yet amoral friend secretly working for Soviet Intelligence) reflected underlying suspicions Graham had of Philby. In a particular irony, after Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean fled to Moscow to escape arrest, Philby fell under suspicion of being "the third man" in their spy ring.
  • Throw It In: The hotel manager points in the wrong directions when talking about Heaven and Hell due to the actor's trouble speaking English, which Reed loved as a symbol of post-war Vienna's skewed morality.
  • What Could Have Been: Cary Grant was the first actor considered to play Lime. For reasons unknown, he was passed over (apparently, though, he was still a frequent visitor to the London studio shooting sessions) in favor of Orson Welles over David O Selznick's strident objections. Similarly, Jimmy Stewart was first considered to play Holly Martins — here Selznick won, as he demanded Joseph Cotten, who was under contract to Selznik at the time.