Trivia / The Third Man

  • Actor-Inspired Element / Written by Cast Member: The cuckoo clock speech wasn't in the original script. It was suggested by Orson Welles, inspired by a Hungarian play.
  • AFI's 100 Years... Series:
  • Billing Displacement: The video edition has Orson Welles alone on the cover, even though Welles only features in the last 20 minutes or so, and his appearance is supposed to be a reveal. Joseph Cotten is the actual star, although he does get top billing.
  • Creative Differences: During the shooting of the film, the final scene was the subject of a dispute between Graham Greene, who wanted the happy ending of the novella, and Carol Reed and David O. Selznick, who stubbornly refused to end the film on what they felt was an artificially happy note. Greene later wrote: "One of the very few major disputes between Carol Reed and myself concerned the ending, and he has been proved triumphantly right."
  • International Coproduction: This was a British movie largely filmed in Austria with David O. Selznick as an uncredited American co-producer.
  • 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.
  • One-Hit Wonder: "The Third Man Theme" was Anton Karas' only hit. A full soundtrack album was ready for release when the film premiered, but wasn't released at the time due to lack of interest. While the film brought Karas a lot of attention, he wasn't really interested in being a performing star and eventually retired from the limelight.
  • 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 considered for Holly or Harry. For reasons unknown, he was passed over (apparently, though, he was still a frequent visitor to the London studio shooting sessions) despite 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. Selznick also suggested Robert Mitchum, but the actor's arrest for marijuana possession ruled him out.
    • Carol Reed originally wanted NoŽl Coward for Harry Lime.
    • The original script included a return appearance by Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne as Charters and Caldicott, the two English cricket enthusiasts who first appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes, and later in Carol Reed's Night Train to Munich (1940). However, the two characters were streamlined into the role of Mr. Crabbin
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