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:
  • BFI Top 100 British Films: #1.
  • Bad Export for You: Because of differing cultural tastes and content standards, the original American release trimmed 11 minutes from the British version. Carol Reed's Opening Narration was replaced with one by Joseph Cotten, Holly's scenes were edited to change him from an Anti-Hero into The Hero, and some content that would run afoul of The Hays Code was taken out (most memorably a scene with a dancer who was topless except for pasties). The British release is now the one in general circulation.
  • Big Name Fan: Roger Ebert loved this movie, and included in his Great Movies Essays. He later said it was one of the 10 greatest films ever made.
  • 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."
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Despite only appearing in the latter third of the movie, Harry Lime became such a popular character that a prequel Radio Drama series with Lime as the protagonist (played again by Welles) was produced in 1951-52.
  • Executive Meddling: David O. Selznick tried to micromanage the film from Hollywood, greatly annoying the British creative team. Selznick's main issue was the portrayal of Holly Martins as an Anti-Hero. He lost that battle, but succeeded at softening the character in the edits for the original American release.
  • International Coproduction: This was a British movie largely filmed in Austria with David O. Selznick as an uncredited American co-producer.
  • One for the Money; One for the Art: 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:
    • This was intended to be the first of four films co-produced by Alexander Korda and David O. Selznick, but the two constantly clashed and never worked together again.
    • There was a casting tug-of-war between Selznick and Carol Reed. Reed wanted Orson Welles from the start but Selznick didn't think Welles had enough appeal and tried to push Cary Grant for the role, before Reed won out. Reed's first choice for Holly Martins was Jimmy Stewart, but Joseph Cotten got the nod because he was under contract to Selznick.
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