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Television

Corruption in Post-World War II Vienna

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IMDb

8pm Friday THE THIRD MAN (1949) Thriller/Mystery starring Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten.

Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, Harry Lime.

An out of work pulp fiction novelist, Holly Martins, arrives in a post war Vienna divided into sectors by the victorious allies, and where a shortage of supplies has led to a flourishing black market. He arrives at the invitation of an ex-school friend, Harry Lime, who has offered him a job, only to discover that Lime has recently died in a peculiar traffic accident. From talking to Lime's friends and associates Martins soon notices that some of the stories are inconsistent, and determines to discover what really happened to Harry Lime. After learning of a “third man” present at the time of Harry's death, Martins gets caught up in a web of love, deception, racketeering, and murder.

Trivia:

  • The Vienna Police Dept. has a special unit that is assigned solely to patrol the city's intricate sewer system, as its network of interlocking tunnels make great hiding places for criminals on the run from the law, stolen property, drugs, etc. The "actors" playing police officers in the film were actually off-duty members of that unit.
  • Since Orson Welles refused to be filmed in Vienna's sewers, his close-ups were shot in London Film Studios, while a body double was used for wide shots. The resulting footage is said to be about 85% Vienna, 15% London.
  • A huge fan of the film, Martin Scorsese wrote a major thesis on it while in film school. He got a B+ for it, his tutor remarking "Forget it, it's just a thriller".