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The Third Man
Short plot summary

Writer makes visit to take up job offer from friend, turns up in time for the funeral, apparently....

What our panel of critics thought

"Sewer escaping bedlam - you wouldn't get a modern actor working in those conditions."

"The director takes one on a veritable fairground ride of uncertain discovery. One never knows where one is, and is constantly dislodged from feeling secure by strange things happening, strange looks from wrinkly people some with mustaches some not, utterances in a strange foreign language - they could be making it up as they go along for all you know. But at the end of this journey, one believes one has just seen a great movie set in a period in time nobody can remember any longer."

"Vienna just after the war, now there's a setting for a movie..."

"Why did Martin go to the Big Wheel in the first place?"

"The black and whiteness of this production adds something even more sinister than sinister looking nearly-too-old Europeans."

"Nearly-too-old Europeans always look scary, and this movie is a benchmark for their scarydom."

"The movie has everything but color."

"You don't fool me, Welles, my Daddy told me never to trust a man who drinks sherry."

"The soon to be barrel-shaped Mr Welles gives a wonderfully slim lined performance. Well done, Orson, for holding your stomach in like that."

"I love the music - must have saved a packet - just one song for the whole movie - just different bits played at different times..."

Please tell me the ending or whole plot if necessary

Holly Martin, a broke, cheap novel writer, travels to just-post war Vienna to see old buddy Harry Lime who has a job for him. But Martin turns up to see Lime's apparent funeral.

One of Lime's neighbors tells Martin he saw three people at the accident in which Lime was supposedly killed, not two as the police apparently think. This intrigues Martin who tries to investigate but the police seem to think he is interfering.

The neighbor wants to tell more to Martin who has by this time met up with Lime's lover Anna Smith, but before the neighbor can tell all, he is killed.

On turning up to meet the neighbor, Martin and Smith see a group outside the building waiting for the dead neighbor to be taken away. A little boy, who in a previous scene had witnessed the neighbor and Martin having an argument, says things in non-English which seems to frighten Holly and Anna (Anna can speak the language) who run off in an eerie scene being chased by a child, hiding in a cinema.

Cut to Martin going in to get a Taxi. He gets into a taxi, and before saying where he wants to go the driver screeches off like a maniac. Martin thinks he is trying to kill him. He isn't, he is taking him to the writers guild talk which Martin had promised to do in return for their hospitality in the city.

The talk seems to go badly, Martin struggles to answer questions from the audience, and then from an apparent police officer whom Martin tells he is going to write a novel about the third man. This rattles Martin who runs away from the officers, and on his way is bitten by a parrot.

Martin falls in love with Anna. Anna is grieving over Lime.

Following a meeting one night with Anna, Martin sees Lime hiding in the street, but Lime runs away before Martin can talk to him.

Martin tells the police, who then tell Martin what Lime is supposed to have done - watered down penicillin which caused death and madness to children.

The Lime grave is dug up and a missing person the police were looking for is found in there.

Martin meets Lime in an improbably positioned, little used, fairground Big Wheel. After an eventless discussion in the Big Wheel, Lime says the legendary cookoo clock comments (below).

With Martin's agreement, the police use him as a foil to smoke Lime out. They are set to meet in a cafe. It works but Anna stops it just in time so Lime escapes down into the sewers.

Hundreds of officers chase him. During the chase sequence, Lime shoots a police officer, and while then running away gets shot in return. He pulls himself up the stairs but then, being discovered by Martin, gets Martin to shoot him.

Martin is then taken to the airport to be flown home, meets Anna along the way who refuses to talk to him. The End.

Quotable quotes (real)

"I don't want another murder in this case, and you were born to be murdered."

Famous Cuckoo Clock quote: "In Italy, for 30 years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed. But they produced Michaelangelo, Leonardo daVinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The Cuckoo clock.

Other comments

A safe mid afternoon movie for black and white movie lovers who remember the war.

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