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Radio / The Lives of Harry Lime

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The Lives of Harry Lime (also known as The Adventures of Harry Lime) was a Radio Drama produced in England in 1951 and 1952.

Orson Welles reprised his role of Harry Lime from the celebrated 1949 film The Third Man. The radio series is a "prequel" to the film, and depicts the many misadventures of con artist Lime in a somewhat lighter tone than the character's villainy in the film.

Most episodes would begin by playing "The Third Man Theme", abruptly cut off by an echoing gunshot. Then Welles would intone: "That was the shot that killed Harry Lime. He died in a sewer beneath Vienna, as those of you know who saw the movie The Third Man. Yes, that was the end of Harry Lime ... but it was not the beginning. Harry Lime had many lives ... and I can recount all of them. How do I know? Very simple. Because my name is Harry Lime."

In 1955, Welles adapted an idea he originally pitched to the radio show into Mr. Arkadin with Lime renamed as Guy van Stratten (or alternately another alias).

The Lives of Harry Lime contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Heroism: Harry is a much more lovable figure than he is in The Third Man, and his actions even border on the heroic on occasion.
  • …And That Little Girl Was Me: The opening narration:
    How do I know? Very simple. Because my name is Harry Lime.
  • The Boxing Episode: Harry stages a boxing scam in "Mexican Hat Trick".
  • The Con
  • Easy Come, Easy Go: Any time Harry actually struck it rich, circumstances would strip the wealth from him before the end of the episode.
  • Girl of the Week
  • Hand of Glory: In "Hands of Glory", Harry stays in the household of a pair of eccentric old men as part of a con he is performing. He evetually realises that they are planning on murdering him and using his hand to fasion a hand of glory, believing that its light will reveal the location of hidden gold.
  • Lovable Rogue: Harry Lime
  • Perpetual Poverty: If Harry every succeeded in one of his get rich quick schemes, he would lose all of the money by the end of the episode.
  • Posthumous Narration: Every episode was narrated by Lime, who also told listeners "He died in sewer beneath Vienna" during the opening credits.
  • Spiritual Successor: Welles later adapted several of the episodes into a film titled Mr. Arkadin.
  • Staged Shooting: Used in the episode "Horse Play". This episode uses almost exactly the same plot as The Sting but predates it by 20 years.
  • Themed Aliases/This Is My Name on Foreign: One episode has Harry sent after a con woman whose aliases all mean Brown in various languages: Braun, Brunelle, etc.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: In one episode Harry manages to find the lost treasure of Barbarossa. He is captured by bandits who get drunk on the wine stored there and open the bags of gold dust, not realising what it it is, and allow it to spill onto the beach and be washed away by the tide.