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    Harry Lime 

Harry Lime

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    Holly Martins 

Holly Martins

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/oof.jpg
Played by: Joseph Cotten

    Anna Schmidt 

Anna Schmidt

Played by: Alida Valli
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/anna_schmidt.jpg

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: She 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.
  • Broken Bird: She's this by the beginning of the film, and even more so at the end.
  • Dirty Communists: A light example, but she faces deportation from the Russians for being from Czechoslovakia.
  • Double Agent: She is very much this for Harry Lime and Holly, appearing to help the latter, only to betray him for Lime's safety.
  • Femme Fatale
  • Karma Houdini: As evidenced by the last time we see her, she got away (and unscathed, mind you) from the sewer chase of Harry Lime, and it's likely that she fled the authorities soon after to avoid being deported.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Still, she aided and abetted a drug lord who sold very harmful drugs on the European black market, and it is implied that she'll probably be deported back to Czechoslovakia to face Soviet law after the events of the movie.
  • Love Triangle: She's part of one with Holly Martins and Harry Lime.
  • Mysterious Woman
  • The Not-Love Interest: She never really gets together with Holly Martins, as her heart belongs to Harry Lime.
  • Undying Loyalty: Anna warns Harry of the authorities before they can arrest him. This is all for naught, however, and Lime is killed rather than arrested.

    Major Calloway 

Major Calloway

Played by: Trevor Howard
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/major_calloway_8.jpg

  • Badass Mustache: Downplayed; Calloway sports a fashionable, thin, and tasteful mustache.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Calloway accomplishes much as the head of police, such as nabbing Harry Lime, without ever breaking the law.
    • It is also exploited by Manipulative Bastard Lime, when he realizes Calloway is incorruptible but all he have to do is to fake his own death so Calloway will follow the rules and close the case without further investigation.
  • Da Chief: He fits this role quite nicely in the film.
  • Emotion Suppression: Possibly done to maintain a facade of stoicism.
  • I Am Very British: Calloway can be memorable to American (and non-British) audiences, given his heavy Posh accent.
  • Knight in Sour Armour: He's a dedicated policeman, but is also a very cynical and pessimistic pragmatist who rejects Holly's idealistic heroism.
  • Lack of Empathy: Exemplified when he's talking about the sickly children he and Holly see in the hospital (though it could be a rather brutal coping mechanism):
    "It had meningitis. They gave it some of Lime's penicillin. Terrible pity, isn't it."
  • Nice Hat: He wears a military beret and a fedora at times.
  • Police Are Useless: Averted. Calloway and Paine are part of the reason Holly and the gang catch Harry Lime.
  • Pet the Dog: He looks out for Holly and Anna numerous times in the film. He agrees to give safe passage out of Vienna for Anna. However, she incriminates herself when she warns Lime of the police's presence, which leads to a chase, Sergeant Paine's death, and Harry Lime's unceremonious execution.
  • Pragmatic Hero: He wants to capture criminals and bring an end to crime. However, he's willing to blackmail innocents, use people as pawns, and kill in cold blood if it's necessary. He's also The Cynic and a Knight in Sour Armour, rejecting all of Holly's notions of heroism.
  • Seen It All: Calloway seems unaffected by much of what he sees, save for the death of Sergeant Paine.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Appears to have gotten over the recent deaths of Sergeant Paine and (quite understandably) Harry Lime by the final scene.
  • The Stoic: He doesn't seemed all that bothered when surveying children infected with meningitis (courtesy of Harry Lime).
    • Subverted in the penultimate scene. Calloway appears to be genuinely shocked and concerned when Paine runs out in front of Harry Lime when the latter was known to be out armed and dangerous. Calloway then tends to Paine's mortal injuries once Lime shoots him, to no avail.

    Sergeant Paine 

Sergeant Paine

Played by: Bernard Lee
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rsz_sgt_paine.jpg

    Crabbin 

Crabbin

Played by: Wilfrid Hyde-White

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    Karl / Porter 

Karl (Porter)

Played by: Paul Hörbiger
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/karl_da_porter.JPG

  • Culture Clash / Malaproper: Played with. When describing where Harry Lime might've gone after he got run over, he gives the wrong directions to Holly, attributing Hell as being above, and Heaven being underneath the Earth.
  • Disney Villain Death: This is his eventual fate.
  • He Knows Too Much: The reason for which he dies.
  • The Mob Boss Is Scarier: He refuses to divulge any useful information out of fear for his personal and his family's safety. When he does finally give information to Anna and Holly, he is killed.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: He's killed early on, partly to establish how ruthless the baddies are.

    "Baron" Kurtz 

"Baron" Kurtz

Played by Ernst Deutsch
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/baron_kurtz_5.jpg

    Dr. Winkel 

Dr. Winkel

Played by: Erich Ponto
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/winkel.JPG
...*Beat*... Vinkel note 

  • Blatant Lies: Claims he is only Lime's "medical adviser," and offers information that contradicts that of Porter.
  • Jerkass: Winkel acts this way to Holly when he visits the doctor in his apartment.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: As a doctor, Winkel most likely worked as part of the penicillin diluting operation, and was found to be contradicting Porter's information on the death of Harry Lime.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Is seen laughing it up with "Baron" Kurtz.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: He disappears after Holly speaks with Lime.

    Popescu 

Popescu

Played by: Siegfried Breuer
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/popescu___the_third_man_1949.jpg

  • Affably Evil: Popescu is always polite and well-spoken, even when threatening the life of Holly Martins and Anna Schmidt.
  • The Dragon: For Harry Lime.
  • Fat Bastard: He's heavier than most characters.
  • Implied Death Threat: He's fond of these, making several, basically telling Martins to back off, unless he wants to get killed.
  • Karma Houdini: Since Lime is killed before he could divulge any useful information for the authorities, it is unlikely that Popescu will be apprehended.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: He's never seen again after the disastrous book event hosted by Holly, who flees after seeing two thugs, likely sent after him by Harry Lime.

    The Mastermind (spoilers) 

Harry Lime

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/harry_lime.jpg
Played by: Orson Welles

  • Affably Evil: He's incredibly likable and charismatic, as well as being an amoral war profiteer and murderer.
  • Arch-Enemy: Harry Lime turns out to be this to Holly Martins.
  • Badass Longcoat: Is never seen without his black coat and matching hat. Justified, given the time period.
  • Big Bad Friend: Holly is investigating his murder. It turns out that Harry is alive and engaged in horrible crimes. He's the villain of the story.
  • The Chessmaster: He runs Vienna like he owns it, and would've gotten away with it, too, had the police not chased and cornered him by spotting him in the open.
  • Dirty Communists: He works with them, apparently, judging by an off-handed comment that he's worked with the Soviets.
  • The Dreaded: Lime appears to have this reputation in Vienna.
  • Drugs Are Bad: He doesn't care about this. He kills and leaves hundreds of children sickly or even catatonic.
  • Down the Drain: Attempts to flee into a sewer near the end. This doesn't work, and he is unceremoniously shot down and killed.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Played with. He doesn't really love Anna, but gets himself killed when he tries to see her.
  • Evil Former Friend: To Holly Martins. The latter didn't know of this until arriving in Vienna.
  • Evil Pays Better: Money appears to be his main motivation.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Wounded and thus unable to make it outside the sewers, he nods at Holly to finish him off. One thunderous gunshot later, and Lime is done for.
  • Fallen Hero: The radio drama based off the film reveals Lime to have been an Anti-Hero or an Unscrupulous Hero before becoming a ruthless European drug lord.
  • Faking the Dead: Does this to himself.
  • Foil: To Holly Martins.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: He was this with Holly Martins. Emphasis on was.
  • Killed Offscreen: His faked and real deaths both occur offscreen.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: He started out as a Lovable Rogue, where his schemes while illegal, were mostly harmless — like a gambling den. Then he stole penicillin from a military hospital, watered it down to the point it became worthless and sold it on the black market, indifferent to death he caused.
  • Lack of Empathy: He doesn't show any remorse for the victims of his fake penicillin.
  • Manipulative Bastard: He constantly uses people (notably Anna and Martins) and will throw them away without a thought when they're no longer useful to him.
  • Not Quite Dead: Actually this.
  • Not So Stoic: He's not exactly a steely character, but his behavior turns into something very different when he runs from the cops and shoots Sgt. Paine.
  • The Only Believer: Everyone in the movie can see Holly is totally naive, Major Calloway wants him out of Vienna as soon as possible, Anna laughs when Holly talks him about love and Crabbin regrets inviting Holly to a conference, but when Harry is trapped and wounded, he trust Holly to do him a Mercy Kill.
  • Posthumous Character: Not actually this.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: He not-so-subtly threatens to throw Martins out of the Ferris wheel, until Martins informs him the police dug up his coffin and know he's alive. Realizing that his secret's out anyway, and it'd be pretty obvious what happened if Martins were to die, he lets him go.
  • Shadow Archetype: Harry is a Manipulative Bastard and Holly is his Unwitting Pawn, his Spanner in the Works and The Only Believer. In the last minutes of his life, Harry will be Lured into a Trap by Holly and their roles will swap like an Hourglass Plot.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: His faked death sets the plot of the film in motion.
  • The Sociopath: Shows no remorse for all of his horrible actions, not even for when he throws an old man out of a window to his death.
    • Averted, or at least played with at the end. He's visibly distressed when running from the police, and especially when he feels he has to shoot Sgt. Paine.
  • Spanner in the Works: He became one the last minutes of his life when he shoots Sergeant Paine in his effort to escape the trap Holly and Major Calloway had set for him.
  • Unwitting Pawn: He becomes one to Holly on the last minutes of his life, because he is incapable of thinking that his Old Friend and Unwitting Pawn Holly can ever betray him.
  • Verbal Tic: Constantly calling Holly "old man".
  • Villainous Breakdown: He loses his composure and looks visibly distressed when he shoots Paine in the chest while running from the police.
  • Walking Spoiler: The reveal that he is in fact, alive and well is the biggest plot development of the movie.
  • Wicked Cultured: Played with.
    • Lime has shades of intelligence and knowledge of culture, detectable upon first viewing.
    • This is possibly subverted in that his famous cuckoo-clock speech includes wrong information; Swiss people never invented the cuckoo clock. Such a distinction belongs to the Germans, since its citizens are thought to have invented the clock in the Black Forest area, itself located in the State of Baden-Württemberg (Southwestern Germany).
    • Then again, this speech was included by Orson Welles himself, and in-universe, Harry Lime acknowledges this information was taken from someone else by saying, "You know what the fellow said..." at the beginning of the speech.
  • Would Hurt a Child: More accurately, "doesn't care if they die horribly in a hospital ward", but that's splitting hairs.
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