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The Third Man ()


In post-WWII Vienna nothing is what it seems.  Western pulp fiction writer Buck Dexter is actually British hack writer Rollo Martins.  He's come to visit his schoolboy chum Harry Lime, but arrives just in time for Harry's funeral.  The gentleman who catches a ride back from the services with Martins, is really a British policeman; turns out, old pal Harry was a black marketeer, selling doctored penicillin that is responsible for numerous deaths.  Harry's grieving girlfriend is a Russian refuge staying in Vienna on forged documents.    The local Cultural organization that keeps pestering Martins to speak to them mistakenly believes that he is the critically acclaimed writer, Benjamin Dexter.  But the thing that is most misleading turns out to be the "death" of Harry Lime, as Martins discovers when he starts trying to find the rumored third man who witnessed Harry's death.

When Graham Greene was asked to come up with a script for Carol Reed to film, he saw an opportunity to flesh out the bare bones of an idea--suppose someone saw an old friend, supposedly dead, on the street one day.  Of course, Greene & Reed & Orson Welles turned this idea into the great movie The Third Man (1949).  For the novel, Greene returned to the scenario and rendered the whole story as he originally envisioned it.  Most of the changes are fairly minor--freed of the presence of Joseph Cotten, Martins is English not American--but sadly missing is the famous line from the movie, which Welles apparently wrote himself, about Italy under the amoral Borgias producing magnificent culture while Switzerland's hundreds of years of democracy has produced only chocolates and the cuckoo clock.   It does retain the great concluding chase through the sewers of the city, which seem to physically embody the moral cesspool that Cold War Europe was becoming.  This is a work that presages LeCarre and much of the ambivalent spy fiction of the 60's & 70's.  It is perhaps not quite up to the standards of the movie or of some of Greene's other books, but those are high standards indeed.

(Reviewed:)

Grade: (A-)

  

Websites:

See also:

Graham Greene (6 books reviewed)
Thrillers
Graham Greene Links:
    -(Henry) Graham Greene (1904-1991)(kirjasto)
    -ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA: your search: "Graham Greene"
    -ESSAY:   'The Third Man' as a Story and a Film (GRAHAM GREENE, NY Times, March 19, 1950)
    -Graham Greene: THE CHESTERTONS   (NY Review of Books, Jul 21, 1983)
    -Graham Greene: THE FBI AND PEARL HARBOR   (NY Review of Books, Aug 12, 1982)
    -Graham Greene: YOU'RE WELCOME  (NY Review of Books, Nov 8, 1979)
    -Graham Greene: INFORMATION WANTED (NY Review of Books, Sep 27, 1979)
    -Graham Greene: The Great Spectacular    (NY Review of Books, Jan 26, 1978)
    -Graham Greene: The Country with Five Frontiers   (NY Review of Books, Feb 17, 1977 )
    -Graham Greene Birthplace Trust, Home Page GGBT
    -Anne Sherry Graham Greene Page
    -Graham Greene  (Biography, His Works, Other Web Resources)
    -Graham Greene
    -Greeneland: The World of Graham Greene
    -(Henry) Graham Greene (short bio, John D. Hamilton)
    -OBIT: Graham Greene, 86, Dies; Novelist of the Soul
    -Featured Author: Graham Greene With News and Reviews From the Archives of The New York Times (NY Times Book Review)
    -CATHERINE WALSTON/GRAHAM GREENE PAPERS (Georgetown.edu)
    -ESSAY: Graham Greene's Vietnam (Tom Curry, Literary Traveler)
    -ESSAY: The (Mis)Guided Dream of Graham Greene (Robert Royal, First Things)
    -ESSAY: Why Greene fades on film (Quentin Curtis, UK Telegraph)
    -ESSAY: ëHe knew himself as no one else didí Novelist Shirley Hazzard talks about her times with Greene on Capri (Desmond OíGrady, UK Telegraph)
    -ESSAY: An Edwardian on the Concorde: Graham Greene as I Knew Him  (Paul Theroux, NY Times Book Review)
    -EXCERPTS: from May we Borrow Your Husband?
    -REVIEW: The Lives of Graham Greene (David Lodge, NY Review of Books)
     -J.M. Cameron: On Graham Greene  (NY Review of Books)
    -Book club discussion questions: End of the Affair (Warren Pages)
    -REVIEW: of The End of the Affair   Mr. Greene's Intense Art (GEORGE MAYBERRY, NY Times, October 28, 1951)
    -REVIEW: of Heart of the Matter  (July 11, 1948, WILLIAM DU BOIS, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Quiet American (March 11, 1956, ROBERT GORHAM DAVIS, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Quiet American by Graham Greene (C. P. Farley, Powell's)
    -REVIEW: John Bayley: God's Greene, NY Review of Books
           The Captain and the Enemy by Graham Greene
           Graham Greene by Neil McEwan
           A Reader's Guide to Graham Greene by Paul O'Prey
    -Michael Shelden: GREENE & ANTI-SEMITISM (NY Review of Books, Sep 21, 1995)
    -Richard West: Graham Greene and 'The Quiet American' (NY Review of Books, May 16, 1991)
    -J.M. Cameron: On Graham Greene (NY Review of Books, May 30, 1991)
    -REVIEW:  John Bayley: God's Greene  (NY Review of Books)
        The Captain and the Enemy by Graham Greene
        Graham Greene by Neil McEwan
        A Reader's Guide to Graham Greene by Paul O'Prey
    -REVIEW:   Joan Didion: Discovery  (NY Review of Books)
        Finding the Center: Two Narratives by V.S. Naipaul
        Getting to Know the General: The Story of an Involvement by Graham Greene
    -REVIEW:  Jonathan Raban: Innocents Abroad   (NY Review of Books)
        J'Accuse: The Dark Side of Nice by Graham Greene
        Monsignor Quixote by Graham Greene
    -REVIEW:  Robert Towers: Cautionary Tale  (NY Review of Books)
        Doctor Fischer of Geneva or the Bomb Party by Graham Greene
    -REVIEW:  Conor Cruise O'Brien: Greene's Castle  (NY Review of Books)
        The Human Factor by Graham Greene
    -REVIEW:   V.S. Pritchett: Rogue Poet  (NY Review of Books)
        Lord Rochester's Monkey by Graham Greene
    -REVIEW:  Conor Cruise O'Brien: A Funny Sort of God   (NY Review of Books)
        The Honorary Consul by Graham Greene
        Collected Stories by Graham Greene
    -REVIEW: Karl Miller: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost   (NY Review of Books)
        Midnight Oil by V.S. Pritchett
        A Sort of Life by Graham Greene
    -RESPONSE:   Graham Greene: GREENE'S MEANING   (NY Review of Books)
    -REVIEW:  Denis Donoghue: The Uncompleted Dossier   (NY Review of Books)
        Travels with My Aunt by Graham Greene
        Blind Love, and Other Stories by V.S. Pritchett
    -REVIEW:  V.S. Pritchett: A Polished Dissenter  (NY Review of Books)
        Collected Essays including The Lost Childhood by Graham Greene
    -REVIEW: Sybille Bedford: Tragic Comedians   (NY Review of Books)
        The Comedians by Graham Greene
    -REVIEW: David Lodge: The Lives of Graham Greene   (NY Review of Books)
        Graham Greene: The Man Within by Michael Shelden
        Graham Greene: The Enemy Within by Michael Shelden
        The Life of Graham Greene Volume II, 1939-1955 by Norman Sherry
        Graham Greene: Three Lives by Anthony Mockler
        Graham Greene: Friend and Brother by Leopoldo Duran and translated by Euan Cameron
        The Graham Greene Film Reader: Reviews, Essays, Interviews & Film Stories
    -REVIEW: of Green on Capri by Shirley Hazzard (DORIS BETTS, NANDO)
    -REVIEW: of The Life of Graham Greene; Volume III: 1955-1991 by Norman Sherr (FRANKLIN FREEMAN, Touchstone)

Book-related and General Links:
BOOK:
    -REVIEW: Mystery Guide

AUTHOR:
    -(Henry) Graham Greene (1904-1991)(kirjasto)
    -ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA: your search: "Graham Greene"
    -ESSAY:   'The Third Man' as a Story and a Film (GRAHAM GREENE, NY Times, March 19, 1950)
    -Graham Greene: THE CHESTERTONS   (NY Review of Books, Jul 21, 1983)
    -Graham Greene: THE FBI AND PEARL HARBOR   (NY Review of Books, Aug 12, 1982)
    -Graham Greene: YOU'RE WELCOME  (NY Review of Books, Nov 8, 1979)
    -Graham Greene: INFORMATION WANTED (NY Review of Books, Sep 27, 1979)
    -Graham Greene: The Great Spectacular    (NY Review of Books, Jan 26, 1978)
    -Graham Greene: The Country with Five Frontiers   (NY Review of Books, Feb 17, 1977 )
    -Graham Greene Birthplace Trust, Home Page GGBT
    -Anne Sherry Graham Greene Page
    -Graham Greene  (Biography, His Works, Other Web Resources)
    -Graham Greene
    -Greeneland: The World of Graham Greene
    -(Henry) Graham Greene (short bio, John D. Hamilton)
    -OBIT: Graham Greene, 86, Dies; Novelist of the Soul
    -Featured Author: Graham Greene With News and Reviews From the Archives of The New York Times (NY Times Book Review)
    -CATHERINE WALSTON/GRAHAM GREENE PAPERS (Georgetown.edu)
    -ESSAY: Graham Greene's Vietnam (Tom Curry, Literary Traveler)
    -ESSAY: The (Mis)Guided Dream of Graham Greene (Robert Royal, First Things)
    -ESSAY: Why Greene fades on film (Quentin Curtis, UK Telegraph)
    -ESSAY: ëHe knew himself as no one else didí Novelist Shirley Hazzard talks about her times with Greene on Capri (Desmond OíGrady, UK Telegraph)
    -ESSAY: An Edwardian on the Concorde: Graham Greene as I Knew Him  (Paul Theroux, NY Times Book Review)
    -EXCERPTS: from May we Borrow Your Husband?
    -REVIEW: The Lives of Graham Greene (David Lodge, NY Review of Books)
     -J.M. Cameron: On Graham Greene  (NY Review of Books)
    -Book club discussion questions: End of the Affair (Warren Pages)
    -REVIEW: of The End of the Affair   Mr. Greene's Intense Art (GEORGE MAYBERRY, NY Times, October 28, 1951)
    -REVIEW: of Heart of the Matter  (July 11, 1948, WILLIAM DU BOIS, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Quiet American (March 11, 1956, ROBERT GORHAM DAVIS, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: John Bayley: God's Greene, NY Review of Books
           The Captain and the Enemy by Graham Greene
           Graham Greene by Neil McEwan
           A Reader's Guide to Graham Greene by Paul O'Prey
    -Michael Shelden: GREENE & ANTI-SEMITISM (NY Review of Books, Sep 21, 1995)
    -Richard West: Graham Greene and 'The Quiet American' (NY Review of Books, May 16, 1991)
    -J.M. Cameron: On Graham Greene (NY Review of Books, May 30, 1991)
    -REVIEW:  John Bayley: God's Greene  (NY Review of Books)
        The Captain and the Enemy by Graham Greene
        Graham Greene by Neil McEwan
        A Reader's Guide to Graham Greene by Paul O'Prey
    -REVIEW:   Joan Didion: Discovery  (NY Review of Books)
        Finding the Center: Two Narratives by V.S. Naipaul
        Getting to Know the General: The Story of an Involvement by Graham Greene
    -REVIEW:  Jonathan Raban: Innocents Abroad   (NY Review of Books)
        J'Accuse: The Dark Side of Nice by Graham Greene
        Monsignor Quixote by Graham Greene
    -REVIEW:  Robert Towers: Cautionary Tale  (NY Review of Books)
        Doctor Fischer of Geneva or the Bomb Party by Graham Greene
    -REVIEW:  Conor Cruise O'Brien: Greene's Castle  (NY Review of Books)
        The Human Factor by Graham Greene
    -REVIEW:   V.S. Pritchett: Rogue Poet  (NY Review of Books)
        Lord Rochester's Monkey by Graham Greene
    -REVIEW:  Conor Cruise O'Brien: A Funny Sort of God   (NY Review of Books)
        The Honorary Consul by Graham Greene
        Collected Stories by Graham Greene
    -REVIEW: Karl Miller: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost   (NY Review of Books)
        Midnight Oil by V.S. Pritchett
        A Sort of Life by Graham Greene
    -RESPONSE:   Graham Greene: GREENE'S MEANING   (NY Review of Books)
    -REVIEW:  Denis Donoghue: The Uncompleted Dossier   (NY Review of Books)
        Travels with My Aunt by Graham Greene
        Blind Love, and Other Stories by V.S. Pritchett
    -REVIEW:  V.S. Pritchett: A Polished Dissenter  (NY Review of Books)
        Collected Essays including The Lost Childhood by Graham Greene
    -REVIEW: Sybille Bedford: Tragic Comedians   (NY Review of Books)
        The Comedians by Graham Greene
    -REVIEW: David Lodge: The Lives of Graham Greene   (NY Review of Books)
        Graham Greene: The Man Within by Michael Shelden
        Graham Greene: The Enemy Within by Michael Shelden
        The Life of Graham Greene Volume II, 1939-1955 by Norman Sherry
        Graham Greene: Three Lives by Anthony Mockler
        Graham Greene: Friend and Brother by Leopoldo Duran and translated by Euan Cameron
        The Graham Greene Film Reader: Reviews, Essays, Interviews & Film Stories
    -REVIEW: of Green on Capri by Shirley Hazzard (DORIS BETTS, NANDO)

FILM
    -REVIEW: The Third Man - Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert reviews this classic film
    -REVIEW: The Third Man (1949) (Tim Dirks, Filmsite)
    -The Third Man - David Macdonald
    -The Third Man - Apollo Leisure Guide
    -Third Man, The - Film Stills
    -ESSAY: Film Noir (Filmsite)

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