I never knew the old Vienna before the war with its Strauss music, its glamour and easy charm. Constantinople suited me better. I really got to know it in the classic period of the Black Market. We'd run anything if people wanted it enough - mmm - had the money to pay. Of course, a situation like that does tempt amateurs but you know they can't stay the course like a professional. Now the city - it's divided into four zones, you know, each occupied by a power: the American, the British, the Russian and the French. But the center of the city that's international policed by an International Patrol. One member of each of the four powers. Wonderful! What a hope they had! All strangers to the place and none of them could speak the same language. Except a sort of smattering of German. Good fellows on the whole, did their best you know. Vienna doesn't really look any worse than a lot of other European cities. Bombed about a bit. Oh, I was gonna tell you, wait, I was gonna tell you about Holly Martins, an American. Came all the way here to visit a friend of his. The name is Lime, Harry Lime. Now Martins was broke and Lime had offered him, some sort, I don't know, some sort of job. Anyway, there he was, poor chap. Happy as a lark and without a cent.
— Opening narrator
You know what the fellow said in Italy, for thirty 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 five hundred years of democracy and peace and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long Holly.
I'd make comic faces... and stand on my head and grin at you between my legs... and tell all sorts of jokes. I wouldn't stand a chance, would I?
Martins: I was going to stay with him, but he died Thursday.
Crabbin: Goodness, that's awkward.
Crabbin: [inviting Holly Martins to give a lecture at the local Cultural Reeducation Society] We do a little show each week. Last week we had Hamlet. The week before we had... something.
Crabbin: Yes, the Hindu dancers. Thank you, sergeant.
Harry Lime: You know, I never feel comfortable on these sort of things. 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.
What did you want me to do? Be reasonable. You didn't expect me to give myself up... 'It's a far, far better thing that I do.' The old limelight. The fall of the curtain. Oh, Holly, you and I aren't heroes. The world doesn't make any heroes outside of your stories.
— Harry Lime
Calloway: Go home Martins, like a sensible chap. You don't know what you're mixing in, get the next plane.
Martins: As soon as I get to the bottom of this, I'll get the next plane.
Calloway: Death's at the bottom of everything, Martins. Leave death to the professionals.
Harry Lime: Nobody thinks in terms of human beings. Governments don't. Why should we? They talk about the people and the proletariat, I talk about the suckers and the mugs - it's the same thing. They have their five-year plans, so have I.
Martins: You used to believe in God.
Harry Lime: Oh, I still do believe in God, old man. I believe in God and Mercy and all that. But the dead are happier dead. They don't miss much here, poor devils.
Martins: I guess nobody really knew Harry like he did... like I did.
Calloway: How long ago ?
Martins: Back in school. I was never so lonesome in my life until he showed up.
Calloway: When did you see him last ?
Martins: September, '39.
Calloway: When the business started ?
Martins: Um, hmm.
Calloway: See much of him before that ?
Calloway: That sounds like a cheap novelette.
Martins: Well, I write cheap novelettes.