The Third Man

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The Third Man is a 1949 film about an American writer of Westerns, who upon his arrival in war-torn Vienna, learns that his friend, who has invited him, reportedly died in a recent car accident.

Directed by Carol Reed. Written by Graham Greene, based on his novella.
HUNTED...By a thousand men! Haunted...By a lovely girl!Taglines

Holly Martins

  • I never knew the old Vienna before the war, with its Strauss music, its glamour and its easy charm. I really got to know it in the classic period of the Black Market. They could get anything if people wanted it enough and had the money to pay. [image of body floating in river] Of course, a situation like that does tempt amateurs, but of course, they don't last long, not really, not like professionals. Now the city - [A sign announces: "ENTERING THE AMERICAN ZONE."] is divided into four zones, you know, each occupied by a power - American, British, 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. You can imagine what a chance they had, all of them strangers to the place and no two of them speaking the same language. Oh, they were good fellows on the whole, did their best. Vienna doesn't look any worse than a lot of other European cities, bombed a little, of course. Anyway, I was dead broke when I got to Vienna. A close pal of mine had wired me, offering me a job doing publicity work for some kind of charity he was running. I'm a writer, name's Martins, Holly Martins. Anyway, down I came, all the way to old Vienna, happy as a lark and without a dime.
  • [about his next book] It's a story about a man who hunted down a sheriff who was victimizing his best friend...I'm gunning just the same way for your Major Callahan.
  • [to Anna] I'd make comic faces and stand on my head and grin at you between my legs and learn all sorts of jokes. Wouldn't stand a chance would I? Hmmm? Well, you did tell me I ought to find myself a girl.
  • [to man standing in the shadows, with a cat rubbing against him] What kind of a spy do you think you are, satchel-foot? What are you tailing me for? Cat got your tongue? Come on out. Come out, come out, whoever you are. Step out in the light. Let's have a look at ya. [to the cat] Who's your boss? [Harry is revealed by a light turning on]
  • [to Anna] I've just seen a dead man walking. I saw him buried, but now I've seen him alive.
  • [after seeing victims of Harry's scheme] All right, Calloway, you win...I'll be your dumb decoy duck.

Harry Lime

  • [to Holly] Hello, old man, how are you?
  • [about Anna being turned over to the Russians] What can I do, old man? I'm dead, aren't I?
  • 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.
  • Holly, I'd like to cut you in, old man. There's nobody left in Vienna I can really trust, and we've always done everything together. When you make up your mind, send me a message - I'll meet you any place, any time, and when we do meet old man, it's you I want to see, not the police. Remember that, won't ya? Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. Remember what the fella said: In Italy for 30 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 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long Holly.

Major Calloway

  • We should have dug deeper than a grave.
  • Next time we'll have a foolproof coffin.
  • He was about the worst racketeer that ever made a dirty living in this city.
  • Death's at the bottom of everything, Martins. Leave death to the professionals.

Anna Schmidt

  • [to Holly] You shouldn't get mixed up in this...Why don't you leave this town - go home?
  • [to Holly] You know, you ought to get yourself a girl.
  • Poor Harry. I wish he was dead. He would be safe from all of you then.


  • It was a terrible thing. I was just crossing the road to go to Harry. He and the Baron were on the sidewalk. Maybe if I hadn't started across the road, it wouldn't have happened. I can't help blaming myself and wishing things had been different. Anyway, he saw me and stepped off the sidewalk to meet me, and the was terrible, Mr. Martins, terrible. I've never seen a man killed before...It was so terribly stupid for a man like Harry to be killed in an ordinary street accident.
  • That's a nice girl, that. But she ought to go careful in Vienna. Everybody ought to go careful in a city like this.


  • [about Harry] An accident, knocked over by a car in front of the house, have seen it myself, killed at once, immediately. Already in hell [pointing up] or in heaven [pointing down]. Sorry for the grave diggers. Hard work, in this frost.
  • I should have listened to my wife. She said you were up to no good. Gossip...I have no evidence. I saw nothing. I said nothing. It's not my business.
  • [to Holly] I am not a bad man. I'd like to tell you something...Come tonight. My wife goes out...Tonight.


  • Kurtz: We came out of this place like this and were walking this way. A friend of his called to him from over there. Harry went across and from up there came the truck. It was just about here... His friend and I picked him up, and carried him across over here. It was a terrible thing, terrible. We laid him down, just about here. And this is where he died. Even at the end, his thoughts were of you.


Holly: Can you tell me whose...
[Points towards ongoing funeral service]
Calloway: Fella called Lime.

Holly: I guess nobody knew Harry like he did, like I did...back in school. I was never so lonesome in my life till he showed up...Best friend I ever had.
Calloway: That sounds like a cheap novelette.
Holly: I write cheap novelettes.
Calloway: I'm afraid I've never heard of you. What's your name again?
Holly: Holly Martins.
Calloway: No, sorry.
Holly: You ever hear of 'The Lone Rider of Santa Fe'?
Calloway: Can't say as I have.
Holly: 'Death at Double X Ranch,' uh, 'Raunch' [feigning an English accent]?
Calloway: Nope.

Crabbin: [inviting Holly 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.
Sgt. Paine: The striptease, sir.
Crabbin: Yes, the Hindu dancers. Thank you, sergeant.

Holly: [Gesturing toward the porter] But he said he died instantaneously.
Kurtz: Well, he died before the ambulance could reach us.
Holly: So it was only you and this friend of his, uh, who was he?
Kurtz: A Rumanian, Mr. Popescu.
Holly: I'd like to talk to him.
Kurtz: He--he has left Vienna.

Holly: Wasn't that girl there?
Kurtz: Some girl from the Josefstadt Theatre. You know what Harry was. You oughtn't to speak to her. It would only cause her pain.
Holly: Oh not necessarily. She'd probably want to help.
Kurtz: What's the good of another post mortem? Suppose you dig up something - well, discreditable to Harry?...But I still think it won't do Harry any good. You'd do better to think of yourself.
Martins: I'll be all right.

Holly: You were in love with him, weren't you?
Anna: I don't know. How can you know a thing like that afterwards? I don't know anything more except I want to be dead too.

Anna: That was the man who brought me some money when Harry died. He said Harry had been anxious at the last moment.
Holly: He said he remembered me too. It seems to show he wasn't in much pain.
Anna: Doctor Winkel told me that...
Holly: Doctor Winkel, who's he?
Anna: A doctor Harry used to go to. He was passing just after it happened.
Holly: His own doctor?
Anna: Yes.
Holly: Were you at the inquest?
Anna: Yes. They said it wasn't the driver's fault. Harry had often said what a careful driver he was.
Holly: He was Harry's driver?
Anna: Um-hum.
Holly: I don't get it. All of them there - Kurtz, this Rumanian Popescu, his own driver knocking him over, his own doctor just passing by? No strangers there at all.
Anna: I know. I've wondered about it a hundred times, if it really was an accident. What difference does it make? He's dead isn't he?...
Holly: The porter saw it happen.
Anna: Then why worry?

Holly: Could he have been conscious?...Was he still alive?
Porter: Alive? He couldn't have been alive. Not with his head in the way it was.
Holly: I was told that he did not die at once.
Porter: He was quite dead.
Holly: But this sounds crazy. If he was killed at once, how could he have talked about me and this lady here after he was dead? Why didn't you say all this at the inquest?
Porter: It's better not to be mixed up in things like this.
Holly: Things like what?
Porter: [He shrugs] I was not the only one who did not give evidence.
Holly: Who else?
Porter: Three men helped to carry your friend to the statue.
Holly: Kurtz, the Rumanian, and -
Porter: There was a third man. He didn't give evidence.
Holly: You don't mean the doctor?
Porter: No, no, no. He came later, after they carried him to the Josef statue.
Holly: What did this man look like?
Porter: I didn't see his face. He didn't look up. He was quite ordinary. He might have been just anybody.
Holly: Just anybody.

Holly: I suppose it wouldn't interest you to know that Harry Lime was murdered? You're too busy. You haven't even bothered to get the complete evidence...And there was a third man there. I suppose that doesn't sound peculiar to you.
Calloway: I'm not interested in whether a racketeer like Lime was killed by his friends or by an accident. The only important thing is that he's dead. Go home Martins, like a sensible chap. You don't know what you're mixing in, get the next plane.
Holly: 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.
Holly: Mind if I use that line in my next Western?

Holly: Was it possible that his death might have been not accidental?...Could he have been pushed, Dr. Winkel?
Winkel: I cannot give an opinion. The injuries to the head and skull would have been the same.

Anna: [about Harry] It's always bad around this time. He used to look in around six. I've been frightened. I've been alone, without friends and money. But I've never known anything like this. Please talk. Tell me about him.
Holly: He could fix anything.
Anna: What sort of things?
Holly: Oh, little things, how to put your temperature up before an exam, the best crib, how to avoid this and that.
Anna: He fixed my papers for me. He heard the Russians were repatriating people like me who came from Czechoslovakia. He knew the right person straight away for forging stamps.
Holly: When he was fourteen, he taught me the three card trick. That was growing up fast.
Anna: He never grew up. The world grew up round him, that's all - and buried him.
Holly: Anna, you'll fall in love again.
Anna: Don't you see I don't want to? I don't ever want to.

Popescu: Can I ask is Mr. Martins engaged in a new book?
Holly: Yes, it's called 'The Third Man.'
Popescu: A novel, Mr. Martins?
Holly: It's a murder story. I've just started it. It's based on fact.
Popescu: Are you a slow writer, Mr. Martins?
Holly: Not when I get interested.
Popescu: I'd say you were doing something pretty dangerous this time.
Holly: Yes?
Popescu: Mixing fact and fiction.
Holly: Should I make it all fact?
Popescu: Why no, Mr. Martins. I'd say stick to fiction, straight fiction.
Holly: I'm too far along with the book, Mr. Popescu.
Popescu: Haven't you ever scrapped a book, Mr. Martins?
Holly: Never.

Calloway: I told you to go away, Martins. This isn't Santa Fe. I'm not a sheriff and you aren't a cowboy. You've been blundering around with the worst bunch of racketeers in Vienna, your precious Harry's friends, and now you're wanted for murder.
Martins: Put down drunk and disorderly too.
Calloway: I have.

Holly: Are you too busy chasing a few tubes of penicillin to investigate a murder?
Calloway: These were murders. Men with gangrened legs, women in childbirth. And there were children too. They used some of this diluted penicillin against meningitis. The lucky children died. The unlucky ones went off their heads. You can see them now in the mental ward. That was the racket Harry Lime organized.

Holly: I knew him for twenty years, at least I thought I knew him. Suppose he was laughing at fools like us all the time?
Anna: He liked to laugh.
Holly: Seventy pounds a tube. He wanted me to write for his great medical charity...Perhaps I could have raised the price to eighty pounds for him.
Anna: Oh please, for heaven's sakes, stop making him in your image. Harry was real. He wasn't just your friend and my lover, he was Harry.
Holly: Well, don't preach wisdom to me. You talk about him as if he had occasional bad manners. Oh, I don't know, I'm just a hack writer who drinks too much and falls in love with girls - you.
Anna: Me?
Holly: Don't be such a fool, of course.
Anna: If you'd rung me up and asked me were you fair or dark or had a moustache, I wouldn't have known.
Holly: I am leaving Vienna. I don't care whether Harry was murdered by Kurtz or Popescu or the third man. Whoever killed him, there was some sort of justice. Maybe I would have killed him myself.
Anna: A person doesn't change because you find out more.

Holly: Listen, Callaghan!
Calloway: Calloway. I'm English, not Irish.

Holly: Have you ever seen any of your victims?
Harry: You know, I never feel comfortable on these sort of things. Victims? Don't be melodramatic. [gestures to people far below] 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.

Holly: I should be pretty easy to get rid of.
Harry: Pretty easy.
Holly: I wouldn't be too sure.
Harry: I carry a gun. You don't think they'd look for a bullet wound after you hit that ground.

Harry: 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.
Holly: You used to believe in God.
Harry: 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. What do you believe in? Oh if you ever get Anna out of this mess, be kind to her. You'll find she's worth it.

Holly: Anna, don't you recognize a good turn when you see one?
Anna: You have seen Calloway. What are you two doing?
Holly: Well, they, they asked me to help take him. I'm helping.
Anna: Poor Harry.
Holly: Poor Harry? Poor Harry wouldn't even lift a finger to help you.
Anna: Oh, you've got your precious honesty and don't want anything else.
Holly: You still want him.
Anna: I don't want him anymore. I don't want to see him, hear him. But he's still a part of me, that's a fact. I couldn't do a thing to harm him.
Holly: Oh Anna, why do we always have to quarrel?
Anna: If you want to sell your services, I'm not willing to be the price. I loved him. You loved him. What good have we done him? Love! Look at yourself. They have a name for faces like that?

Holly: You should have gone. How did you know I was here anyway?
Anna: From Kurtz. They've just been arrested...But Harry won't come. He's not a fool...Don't tell me you are doing all this for nothing. What's your price this time?
Holly: No price, Anna.
Anna: Honest, sensible, sober, harmless Holly Martins. Holly - what a silly name. You must feel very proud to be a police informer. Harry, get away. The police are outside. Quick.

Holly: [while looking ahead down the road at Anna's receding figure] Calloway, can't you do something about Anna?
Calloway: I'll do what I can - if she'll let me.
Holly: Wait a minute. Let me out.
Calloway: Well, there's not much time.
Holly: One can't just leave. Please.
Calloway: Be sensible, Martins.
Holly: Haven't got a sensible name, Calloway.


  • HUNTED...By a thousand men! Haunted...By a lovely girl!
  • Hunted by men...Sought by WOMEN!


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