Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, Harry Lime.
The Third Man, Orson Welles, 1949


Sights of Vienna, Austria, flash across the screen as an Englishman’s voice (Carol Reed) describes the racketeer trade in the post-World War II era. He describes that many amateurs have tried to get involved in this career, but he implies that they always end up dead. Meanwhile, the city is quartered into sectors policed by occupying forces — the English, the Russians, the Americans and the French — though they barely can handle the criminal element and don’t even speak the same language. The city is devastated (“bombed about a bit,” says the narrator), covered in jagged rubble. He begins to tell the story of an American coming to Vienna named Holly Martins, who has come to accept a job from an old friend.

Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) gets off his train and is surprised that his friend, Harry Lime, isn’t at the station to meet him. Holly goes to Lime’s flat, but the building porter (Paul Hörbiger), through extremely broken English, tells him that he just missed Lime’s friends leaving with a coffin. The porter says that Harry was killed, hit by a truck right in front of the building.

Martins goes to a massive graveyard and finds a funeral service. An Englishman (Trevor Howard) hovering nearby informs Holly it is Harry’s funeral. Standing by the grave are two middle-aged men, both of whom eye Holly suspiciously. Also in attendance is a pretty woman (Alida Valli) who doesn’t notice him. After the funeral, Martins begins to walk back into town, and the Englishman offers him a ride.

The stranger introduces himself as Major Calloway, a police officer in the British sector of Vienna, and offers to buy him a drink. Holly agrees and proceeds to drink while reminiscing about Harry. It is revealed that Holly is an author of pulp Western novellas. As he talks about his old friend, Calloway says that it’s better that Lime is dead, since he was a murderer and a racketeer. Holly takes umbrage at Calloway’s suggestion and reaches to punch him, but he’s quickly socked in the face by fellow English soldier Sergeant Paine (Bernard Lee). Paine apologizes and escorts the tipsy Martins to the nearby hotel, explaining to Holly earnestly that he is a huge fan of his books. Calloway sets Martins up at the hotel for the night, telling him he can catch a plane out of Vienna the next day. Holly promises he will prove him wrong about Lime.

Happening by on the way out of the hotel is another Englishman named Crabbin (Wilfrid Hyde-White). Paine tells Crabbin that Holly is an author, and though Crabbin has never heard of him, he is excited to have a writer in Vienna. Crabbin introduces himself to Holly and explains he represents the British cultural propaganda department in Vienna. He invites Holly to stay and give lecture in a few days at the department’s meeting. Figuring he could use the extra time in town as an opportunity to look into Harry’s death, Holly accepts the offer.

Holly is then called on the hotel phone by a man who identifies himself as Baron Kurtz. The man says he is a friend of Harry’s. Martins and Kurtz set up a meeting at a nearby cafe. When they meet, Holly recognizes Kurtz (Ernst Deutsch) as one of the two men at Harry’s funeral. Kurtz is carrying one of Holly’s books, which he says Harry had given to him, and a small dog.

Holly proceeds to grill Kurtz about the circumstances of Harry’s death. Kurtz and Martins go out to the street in front of Harry’s apartment building to reconstruct the events of the accident. Kurtz’s version is this: he was walking out of Harry’s flat with him when Harry saw a Romanian friend of his, Popescu, across the street. Harry then began to cross the street to greet Popescu when a truck drove up and ran Harry over. Then Kurtz and Popescu carried Harry to the sidewalk. Shortly thereafter, Harry’s doctor, Dr. Winkel, happened by. The doctor was too late to save Harry, however. Holly asks Kurtz to help him investigate further, but Kurtz says as he is an Austrian, he must be careful with the police. Martins tells him the police think Harry was a racketeer. Kurtz points out most everyone in Vienna is mixed up in some sort of racket, but mostly nothing serious–tires, stamps, etc.

Kurtz describes how after Harry was hit, he instructed him to see after Holly when he arrived. Holly points out the porter, who is near them outside the apartment sweeping, told him that Harry died instantaneously. Kurtz looks the porter over and says that Harry died before the ambulance arrived, but that he was still alive immediately after he was run over. Holly tells Kurtz he wants to speak to Popescu, but he says Popescu has left Vienna. At Holly’s insistence, Kurtz tells him the identity of the pretty woman at the funeral. He does not remember her name, but he tells Holly she was a companion of Harry’s who works as an actress at a local theater. Kurtz tells Holly he lives in the Russian sector but works at the Casanova Club, and if he has any need for advice to contact him there. Holly then tries to question the porter again. However, the porter’s wife, overhearing the conversation, looks frightened and calls for her husband to come inside.

That evening, Holly goes to theater where the woman, named Anna Schmidt, is performing. He introduces himself as a friend of Harry Lime’s, and she tells him to come back after the show. When he meets her afterwards, Martins finds out that Anna, so depressed over Harry’s death that she declares she wishes she too were dead, had been dating Harry for some time and that Harry had allegedly asked Kurtz that Anna be taken care of as well just before he died. Martins thinks it funny that Harry had time to think of both him and Anna right after the accident, even though he supposedly died instantly, or at least very quickly. Anna also reveals that the man driving the truck was Harry’s own driver. Holly tells Anna that he has a feeling that there’s something suspicous about Harry’s death — that seemingly everyone he knew was at the scene — and he convinces her to help him speak to the porter again.

Anna and Holly go to talk with the porter in Harry’s apartment. Anna pokes around the flat, seemingly reminiscing, and half-heartedly translates the German for Martins. The porter tells them that Harry’s neck was broken in such a way that he had to have died immediately; therefore, there was no way he could have asked Kurtz that Anna and Martins be taken care of. He also says that three men carried Harry to the sidewalk, not two (Kurtz & Popescu), as Kurtz had claimed. Holly asks the porter why he did not reveal this information at the inquest, and the porter responds he didn’t want to be mixed up in the situation and that he wasn’t the only witness who did not give a complete testimony. As Holly tries to convince the porter take his story to the police, the conversation becomes heated. The porter, who becomes fearful, insists in German that Holly leave and never come back. An elfin boy spies them arguing just before Holly and Anna leave.

Holly walks Anna back to her place and they are met by Anna’s landlady (Hedwig Bleibtreu), who frantically tells her that the police are inspecting her apartment. Holly and Anna go upstairs to find Major Calloway and Sergeant Paine supervising as her apartment is torn apart. Calloway asks for her passport, which he and Paine inspect and then suspect is fake. The Major tells her he must keep it. Holly tells Calloway that he suspects Harry may have been murdered, but he says he doesn’t care how Harry died as long he’s dead. He suggests Holly should go back to the airport and go home. As they continue to go through her things, including love letters to her from Harry, Anna explains quietly to Holly about her passport, which she reveals Harry forged for her. She explains that she is Czechoslovakian and that the Russians would claim her and have her deported if it was found out that she was not Austrian. Calloway takes Anna back with the other officers to the police station, and on her way out, Holly asks her to remind him of Harry’s doctor’s name so he can go talk with him.

Holly goes to ask Dr. Winkel (Erich Ponto) about Harry’s death. The doctor was the man standing by Kurtz at the funeral. In his home, Holly sees the same small dog that Kurtz was carrying earlier. The doctor tersely adheres to Kurtz’s take on the events, and he confirms that he arrived after Harry was already dead. Holly asks if it’s possible that Harry was pushed in front of the truck, if he knows if Harry could have died instantaneously or not, and if there was a third man who helped carry Harry’s body to the sidewalk. Dr. Winkel tells Holly he can give no additional opinion as to the circumstances of the accident, since he did not witness the event and the injuries would have been the same no matter how it happened. He also says there was no third man on the scene by the time he arrived.

At the international police station, Anna sees a Russian officer flipping through her papers as she waits. Calloway comes in and questions her about Harry. He shows her a picture of man named Joseph Harbin and asks if she knows who he is. Anna says she’s never seen him before. He explains that Harbin is a worker in a military hospital, but she insists she does not know him. He accuses her of lying, which he says is stupid because he could help her with her passport. He explains that in one of her confiscated letters, Harry had written her to instruct her to place a call to the Casanova Club for someone named Joseph. Anna barely remembers that the message for Joseph was something about meeting Harry at his home. Calloway tells her that the day she telephoned that message to Joseph Harbin, he disappeared. Anna insists Calloway has Harry all wrong, and he sends her away, though he keeps her passport and belongings.

Anna then goes with Holly, who was waiting outside the station for her, to the Casanova Club. Crabbin is inside just leaving, and he reminds Holly of the lecture he is to give the next night. Holly and Anna sit at the bar and see Kurtz playing violin for a dining couple. Kurtz looks dismayed to see Holly again and, when questioned, insists that only he and Popescu carried Harry and that the porter must have been mistaken. Kurtz says that Popescu happens to be at the club that night, despite his earlier claim that Popescu was out of town. Holly meets Popescu (Siegfried Breuer), whose account of Harry’s death mirrors Kurtz’s account in all aspects. Holly again asks if a third man helped him and Kurtz carry Harry’s body, but Popescu denies this, asking where Holly heard such a thing. He tells him the porter at Harry’s building had heard the accident and witnessed the aftermath. This is evidently news to Popescu, who was unaware that the porter was a witness since he had not given testimony at the inquest.

Popescu is then seen arranging and attending a mysterious meeting on a bridge with Kurtz, Dr. Winkel, and an unseen fourth man.

The following morning, while Holly wanders thoughtfully in front of Harry’s former home, the porter leans out the window and apologizes to Holly for his previous demeanor, arranging to meet with him later to tell him something important. When the porter closes the window and turns around, he reacts with surprise and terror to an unseen person who has presumably snuck up behind him.

Holly goes to visit Anna to tell her the porter wants to talk to him again. She is especially depressed about Harry, and she begs Holly to tell her stories about him. They talk about Harry, painting him as a mischievous boy who never grew up. She insists they go see the porter together, accidentally calling him Harry, which lightly miffs Holly.

As they walk up to the front of the porter’s building, they see a crowd gathered near the door. Anna immediately wants to leave, assuming it to be trouble. Holly, however, walks over to the crowd, where he is told the porter has been murdered. The little boy who had seen Holly and the porter arguing begins insisting something about Holly loudly in German. Slowly, the assembled crowd turns to stare at Holly. Anna explains that the crowd thinks he is the murderer. He grabs Anna and they run away. The crowd pursues them, with the little boy in the lead. Holly and Anna duck into a movie theater, losing the mob. Holly tells Anna to go back home where she’ll be safe.

Holly eventually makes his way back to his hotel, where he asks the desk clerk for a taxi driver. The clerk indicates that an imposing-looking man standing there is a driver already waiting for him. With Holly in the back seat, the driver speeds off recklessly without Holly saying where he wants to go. Holly, very frightened, asks him if he is taking him to be killed. The driver does not answer and finally stops in front of a doorway. Holly, sure that he’s about to be murdered, starts to run, but the door opens. Crabbin greets him, and Holly realizes it is time for the speaking engagement that he’d agreed to.

Holly struggles with the intellectual questions posed to him. The audience begins to dissipate, while Crabbin agonizes over the misstep of hiring Holly. Unexpectedly, Popescu arrives, and he asks Holly if he’s working on a book. Holly says that he’s writing a book called “The Third Man” and that it’s based on fact. Popescu suggests that Holly stick to fiction, but Holly insists he will finish this “book.” As the meeting is closed, two thuggish-looking men arrive and get whispered orders from Popescu. Holly takes off up the spiral staircase at the back of the building and the two thugs pursue him. Holly ducks into in unlocked room, where he is bitten by an unexpected parrot. He makes his way out of a window and finds refuge from the thugs in a car hidden among the wartime rubble.

Once safe, Holly goes to the international police station to tell Calloway about his findings. Calloway, though now convinced that Harry Lime was murdered, is still indifferent and explains that it’s better that Harry is dead. Holly insists he is wrong, so the Major offers to show Holly why he believes Harry is guilty of racketeering and murder. Calloway then presents a myriad of evidence, proving that Harry obtained penicillin illegally, diluted it, and sold it to war-ravaged, poor hospitals, resulting in the painful deaths of many people. (Watered-down penicillin is not only ineffective, but it also makes the patient immune to future doses of penicillin, thus rendering medical treatment incredibly difficult or impossible.) Many of his victims were children with meningitis; the lucky ones, the Major says, died, and the unlucky ones lived and went insane. He shows Holly a slide of the hospital worker Joseph Harbin, who he explains helped steal the penicillin for Harry. The police forced Harbin to give them information about Harry’s operation, but he has recently gone missing. Holly, now convinced of Harry’s guilt, is devastated by the news about his old friend and agrees to go back to America.

After Holly goes out to a bar and gets drunk, he buys flowers and takes them to Anna in her apartment. He drunkenly calls to Anna’s cat, who is indifferent to him, and Anna explains the only person the cat ever liked was Harry. The cat slips out the window. Anna lets Holly know that Calloway also told her about Harry’s misdeeds, and though she now believes in his guilt as well, it doesn’t change her feelings for Harry.

We then see a man outside Anna’s window on the street. He ducks into a dark doorway. Anna’s cat, who has run out of the apartment, curls up at his feet.

In the apartment, Anna says Harry is better off dead, but not because he was punished for doing wrong, as Calloway believes. Holly agrees he’s better off dead, and he no longer cares who killed him or why. He believes there was justice in Harry’s death, and he says maybe he would have even killed Harry himself. He also tells Anna that he’s fallen in love with her, but she makes it apparent that the feeling isn’t mutual, as she thinks only of Harry.

Disappointed and still drunk, Holly stumbles outside to return to his hotel, but he sees the obscured man standing in the dark doorway, the cat still at his feet. Holly shouts at him to stop spying and to show himself, but he does not move. Holly’s noise causes a woman upstairs to turn on her light and open her window to yell at him to be quiet. The light from the woman’s apartment shines down into the street, revealing the man in the doorway to be Harry Lime (Orson Welles). Harry smiles at a shocked Holly, but slips away when the woman turns off her light. Seeing Harry’s shadow running off down a nearby street, Holly takes pursuit. He follows the sound of footsteps down a passageway that opens into a plaza, but once Holly reaches the end of the passageway, Harry is already gone.

Holly brings Calloway and Paine out the area to re-enact the events, but they are unconvinced. However, suddenly a light bulb goes off for Calloway as he eyes a booth in the plaza. Opening the door on the booth, Calloway shows Holly that it is an entranceway to the Vienna sewers, with steps leading downwards. They follow the stairs into the sewers, where they see an endless range of tunnels for Harry to use as escape routes.

That night, Calloway leads a team to excavate Harry’s grave. When they open the coffin, the body inside is revealed to be that of Joseph Harbin.

The international police come to Anna’s apartment for her as she lies in bed crying in Harry’s old pajamas. Anna surely assumes this is because of her forged papers. As she is led into the station, Holly sees her and yells at her that he’s seen Harry alive. Calloway is standing in the hallway as the police lead her through the station, and he instructs them to bring her into his office. He interrogates her alone, asking when she saw Lime last. He explains in his coffin was Joseph Harbin’s body. She looks thrilled as she realizes this does mean that Harry is alive, and she asks where he is. Calloway thinks she might know, but it is clear she was not aware he has been alive either. He says they know Harry is hiding in the Russian sector (which is where Kurtz lives, as he told Holly), and that if she helps them catch Lime, Calloway will help her with the Russians, who are about to interrogate her about her passport. She cannot help him, though, and he tells her they will catch him eventually, as Vienna is a closed city. She says that she wishes that he was dead, as he would be safe from “all of you.”

The next morning, Holly goes to visit Baron Kurtz’s apartment in the Russian sector. Kurtz looks over his balcony and invites Holly up, but Holly refuses, as he shouts back that he wants to speak only with Harry. Dr. Winkel comes out on the balcony also, and he and Kurtz exchange concerned looks. Though they admit nothing about Harry, Holly insists that he come meet him at the nearby fairgrounds.

As Holly waits next to the Ferris wheel, he spots Harry walking up to warmly greet him, acting as if nothing has changed. They go for a ride on the Ferris wheel. Harry shows no remorse for his penicillin racket, asking Holly about the people far below them if Holly would really care if one of “those little dots” stopped moving forever, especially if he were paid for each dot. When Holly reveals that he told the police about seeing Harry, Harry is very unhappy that Holly has been talking to the cops. Harry, staring at Holly, clearly considers shooting him and throwing him out of the Ferris wheel to his death. Holly takes him seriously enough to wrap his arm tightly around the car door should Harry try anything. However, when Holly also says that they’ve dug up his grave and found Harbin, Harry changes his mind and jokes that neither one of them would ever think of doing something to the other. Harry also reveals that he was the one who informed the Russian police about Anna’s forged passport as payment for them letting him hide out in the Russian sector. As they finish the ride, Harry offers to cut Holly in on his schemes, but without waiting for an answer, Harry leaves quickly, telling him that they can meet again any time he wants, but no police.

Holly goes to meet with Calloway and tells him he knows where Harry is staying. The Major tries to convince him to help them trap Harry by arranging to meet him at a cafe in the international zone. However, though Holly knows his friend has done wrong, he is unwilling to be the one to doom him. Just then, the Russian officer comes in with Anna’s passport, explaining to Calloway that she must be deported. The Major mentions to him that the Russians were supposed to be helping the British police with Harry Lime, but the Russian says the two cases are not related and that they will get to his case eventually. He leaves the room, Anna’s passport sitting on Calloway’s desk. Calloway, seemingly resigned to Holly giving up in Harry’s case, talks about how helpful Holly could have been in getting Lime, but Holly is staring at Anna’s papers sitting on the desk. Holly asks what price would Calloway pay for his help, and he tells him to name it.

Paine accompanies Anna to board the train that will save her from the Russian authorities. Just as she settles into her car, she spies Holly trying to see her off inconspicuously. Understanding that her leaving must have been part of a deal Holly struck with Calloway, she gets off the train and confronts Holly about why he’s there. He admits he has agreed to “betray” Harry in turn for her getting away. Anna makes it evident that she’s disgusted with Holly and could never do anything to hurt Harry. She leaves angrily, ripping up her passport, and allows the train to depart with her belongings.

Now despondent, Holly asks that Calloway and Paine just take him to the airport, having changed his mind to help them catch Harry. He shows them Anna’s torn up papers. Calloway agrees, but on the way to the airport, the Major makes an extra stop. It is the children’s ward of a hospital, where Calloway shows Holly the devastating effects of Harry’s dilluted penicillin. Horrified by the sight of painfully dying children, Holly reluctantly agrees again to entrap Harry.

At a cafe Holly waits to meet Harry while Calloway, Paine, and several other policemen stake out nearby in the shadows. Anna comes into the cafe to admonish Holly, his location disclosed to her by Baron Kurtz as he was being arrested. While she talks to him, Harry has snuck in the back of the cafe. Just as Harry enters behind Anna, she yells at Holly for being a police informant. Harry reacts, drawing a gun to shoot Holly. Anna is standing in the way and tells Harry that he must escape or the police will get him. Harry tells Anna to move so he can kill Holly, but he spots Sergeant Paine entering the front of the cafe and turns to run.

Harry rushes to the nearest sewer entrance and goes down into the tunnels. Paine, Calloway, Holly, and international policemen pursue Harry through the maze of sewer passages. Harry, for a time, evades the many men, but he is eventually cornered. Holly happens upon the panicked Harry and, hiding from the range of Harry’s gun, tells him that he must give up. Sergeant Paine, followed by Calloway, comes rushing to Holly to warn him to get back, but Harry shoots Paine, and he falls. Harry tries to run but is shot by Calloway.

Harry manages to crawl out of sight while Calloway leans over the dying Paine. Holly takes Paine’s gun and sets off after Harry, and Calloway tells him to shoot on sight. In a passageway, badly wounded, Harry strains to climb up steps to escape through a sewer grate. He manages to make it to the top of the staircase, where he reaches his fingers up through the grate, feeling the air above. However, he is too weak to lift the manhole cover, and he drops his head into his arms. Holly walks up and aims the gun at Harry. Harry weakly lifts his head and nods slightly at Holly, a silent okay for Holly to mercy-kill him. A shot rings out in the sewers. Calloway sees the figure of Holly emerging from the passageway alone.

Soon after, Harry again has another funeral in the same cemetery. Holly, Calloway, and Anna are the only attendees. After the service, Calloway begins to drive Holly to the airport. Seeing Anna walking behind them down the same tree-lined trail as the first time he saw her, Holly asks to get out to speak to her. Holly waits for Anna as she walks down the long road toward him. When she nears him, though, she does not acknowledge his presence and walks by. Holly doesn’t say anything, but he puts his head down and lights a cigarette.

I never knew the old Vienna before the war with its Strauss music, its glamour and easy charm. Constantinople suited me better. I really got to know it in the classic period of the black market. We’d run anything if people wanted it enough and had the money to pay. Of course, a situation like that does tempt amateurs. But, well, they, you know, they can’t stay the course like a professional.

Now the city, it’s divided into four zones, you know, each occupied by a power, the American, the British, the Russian and the French. But the centre of the city, that’s international, policed by an international patrol, one member of each of the four powers. Wonderful. What a hope they had, all strangers to the place, and none of them could speak the same language, except a sort of smattering of German. Good fellows, on the whole. Did their best, you know. Vienna doesn’t really look any worse than a lot of other European cities. Bombed about a bit.

Oh, I was gonna tell you. Wait. I was gonna tell you about Holly Martins, an American, came all the way here to visit a friend of his. The name was Lime. Harry Lime. Now, Martins was broke, and Lime had offered him some sort, I don’t know, some sort of a job. Anyway, there he was, poor chap, happy as a lark and without a cent.

Passport, please.


What’s the purpose of your visit here?

Friend of mine offered me a job here.

Where are you staying?

With him. 15 Stiftgasse.

His name?

Lime. Harry Lime.


Thought he’d be here to meet me

Speak English?


Little. Little.

Uh, 10 minutes too late.

Already gone.


Um, his friends and the, uh… no.

Uh, coffin.


Mr Lime’s. An accident. Knocked over by a car, here in front of the house. Have seen it myself. Killed at once, immediately. Already in hell, or in heaven. Sorry for the gravediggers. Hard work. It is frost.

Can you tell me, uh… who’s the…

A fellow called Lime.

Like a lift to town? I’ve got a car here.


My name’s Calloway.


You a friend of Lime?


Been here long?


You’ve had a bit of a shock, haven’t you? You could do with a drink.

Could you buy me one? I haven’t got any Austrian…

Of course.



I guess nobody knew Harry like he did. Like I did.

How long ago?

Back in school. I was never so lonesome in my life till he showed up.

When did you see him last?

September ’39.

When the business started?


See much of him before that?

Once in a while. Best friend I ever had.

That sounds like a cheap novelette.

I write cheap novelettes.

I’m afraid I’ve never heard of you. What’s your name again?

Holly Martins.

No, sorry.

You ever hear of The Lone Rider of Santa Fe?

Can’t say that I have.

Death at Double-X Ranch? Uh… “Ranch.”


He must’ve known I was broke. He even sent me an aeroplane ticket. It’s a shame.


Him dying like that.

Best thing that ever happened to him.

What are you trying to say?

He was about the worst racketeer that ever made a dirty living in this city.

Policeman, huh?

Come on, have another drink.

No, I never did like policemen. I have to call them sheriffs.

Ever seen one?

Pin it on a dead man. Some petty racket with gasoline or something. Just like a cop. You’re a real cop, I suppose.

It wasn’t petrol.

So it wasn’t petrol. So it was tyres or saccharin or… Why don’t you catch a few murderers for a change?

Well, you could say that murder was part of his racket.

It’s all right, Paine. He’s only a scribbler with too much drink in him. Take Mr Holly Martins home.

Holly Martins, sir? The, uh… the writer? The author of Death at Double-X Ranch?

Listen, Callaghan…

Calloway. I’m English, not Irish.

You’re not going to close your files at a dead man’s expense.

So you’re going to find me the real criminal?

Sounds like one of your stories.

When I’m finished with you, you’ll leave Vienna, you’ll look so silly.

Here’s some army money. It should see you through tonight at Sacher’s Hotel, if you don’t drink too much in the bar. We’ll keep a seat for you on tomorrow’s plane.

Please be careful, sir. Up we come. Written anything lately?

Take him to Sacher’s. Don’t hit him again if he behaves. And you go carefully there. It’s a military hotel.

I’m so glad to have met you, sir. I’ve read quite a few of your books. I like a good western.

That’s what I like about them, sir.

You can pick them up and put them down anytime.

Oh, Mr Hardtmuth.

Yes, sir?

Major Calloway said this gentleman’s gotta have a room for the night.

He’ll be off tomorrow.

Passport, please.

Can’t very well introduce you to everybody.

Would you mind filling this in?

Mr Crabbin.

What is it, Sergeant?

Mr Holly Martins, sir.


The author. Thought you might be interested.

Never heard of him.

He’s very good, sir.

I’ve read quite a few of his books.

Have you, Sergeant? Author? Martins? Thank you, Sergeant.

Mr Martins? My name’s Crabbin. I represent the CRS of GHQ.

You do?

Yes. Cultural Re-education Section. Uh, propaganda. Very important in a place like this. We do a little show each week. Last week we had Hamlet. The week before we had, um, something.

The striptease, sir.

Yes, the Hindu dancers. Thank you, Sergeant. This is the first opportunity we’ve had of making an American author welcome.


Now, I’ll tell you what, Mr Martins. On Wednesday night, at our institute, we’re having a little lecture on the contemporary novel. Thought perhaps you’d like to speak.

They wouldn’t know me.

Oh, nonsense. Your novels are very popular here. Aren’t they, Sergeant?

Very popular, sir.

Very popular. Are you staying long?

How long can one stay here on this stage money?

Listen, Mr Martins, if you’d agree to be our guest, we’d be delighted to have you.

Would you?

As long as you care to stay.

But he’s due to leave tomorrow, sir.

Excuse me. Have you got a toothache?

Number 8, Mr Martins.

Come upstairs a moment.

I know a very good dentist.

I don’t need a dentist. Somebody hit me, that’s all.

Goodness. We must report that to the police. Were they trying to rob you?

Oh, just a soldier. I was trying to punch his major in the eye.

No. A major? Were you really?

Heard of Harry Lime?

Well, I’ve heard of him, of course, but I didn’t exactly know him.

I was going to stay with him, but he died Thursday.

Goodness, that’s awkward.

That what you say to people after death? “Goodness, that’s awkward”?

Mr Martins. Excuse me. Telephone.

Who is it?

Baron Kurtz.

Must be some mistake. Yes?

I was a friend of Harry Lime.

I’d very much like to meet you, Baron. Come around.

Austrians aren’t allowed in your hotel. Couldn’t we meet at the Mozart Cafe?


Just around the corner.

How will I know you?

I’ll carry a copy of one of your books. Harry gave it to me.

Be there in a moment. Wait a minute. If I do this lecture business, you’ll put me up here a while?


It’s a deal. You ever read a book of mine called The Lone Rider of Santa Fe?

No, not that one, sir.

It’s a story about a man who hunted down a sheriff who was victimizing his best friend.

Seems exciting.

It is. I’m gunning just the same way for your Major Callaghan.

Sounds anti-British, sir.

Baron Kurtz?

Mr Martins?

Delighted to meet you.

Come, let’s sit down here.

What would you like? Tea? Coffee?


It’s wonderful how you keep the tension.



You really liked it?

At the end of every chapter you are left guessing what he’ll be up to next.

So, you were a friend of Harry’s?

I think his best. Except you, of course.

The police have a crazy notion that he was mixed up in some sort of a racket.

Everyone in Vienna is. We all sell cigarettes and that kind of thing.

I tell you, I’ve done things that would have seemed unthinkable before the war.

Once when I was hard up, I sold some tyres on the black market.

I wonder what my father would have said.

I’m afraid the police meant more than that.

They get rather absurd ideas sometimes.

He’s somewhere now he won’t mind about that.

Even so, I’m not going to leave it at this.

Will you help me?

I wish I could.

But, you know, I am an Austrian.

I have to be careful with the police.

I’m afraid I can’t help you.

Except with advice, of course.


We came out of his 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.

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.

What did he say?

I can’t remember the exact words, Holly.

I may call you Holly, mayn’t I?

He always called you that to us.

He was anxious I should look after you when you arrived, to see that you got safely home, tickets, you know, and all that.

But you said he died instantaneously.

Well, he died before the ambulance could reach us.

Well, there was only you and this, uh…

this friend of his. Uh, who was he?

A Romanian. Mr Popescu.

I’d like to talk to him.

He has left Vienna.

Uh, excuse me.


Did you know Mr Lime well?

Mr Lime? Yes.

You remember me. Upstairs.

Yes, I remember you.

Who used to visit Mr Lime?

Visit? Eh…

What did he say?

He says he doesn’t know everybody.

Excuse me.

Who was at the funeral besides you?

Only his doctor, Dr Winkel.

Wasn’t there a girl there?

Some girl of the Josefstadt Theatre.

You know what Harry was.

You oughtn’t to speak to her.

It would only cause her pain.

Not necessarily.

She’d probably want to help.

What’s the good of another post-mortem?

Suppose you dig up something, well, discreditable to Harry?

Would you give me your address?

I live in the Russian sector.

But you’ll find me at the Casanova Club every night.

One has to work the best way one can, you know.

What’s the name of this girl?

I don’t know.

I don’t think I ever heard it.

You did mention the theatre.


But I still think it won’t do Harry any good.

You’d do better to think of yourself.

I’ll be all right.

Of course. I’m so glad I’ve met you.

A master of suspense!

Such a good cover, I think.

Number 8, please.

Major Calloway’s compliments, sir.

Here’s the ticket for the plane tomorrow.

You tell the major I won’t need it.

Oh, porter, order me a ticket tonight for the Josefstadt Theatre.

Ah, Mr Martins.

Good evening, Mr Crabbin.

He said I was to drive you to the airfield, or take you to the bus, sir.

Whichever you prefer.

Didn’t you hear Mr Crabbin offer me the hospitality of the HQ BMT?

I was a friend of Harry Lime.


Uh, Miss Schmidt?

Oh, come in.

Thank you.

Sit down.

Thank you. I enjoyed the play very much.

Excuse me.

You were… You were awfully good.

Do you understand German?

No. Excuse me. I could follow it fine.

Oh, yes.

Perhaps Harry told you about me. My name is Holly Martins.

No, he never told me about his friends.


Would you like some tea?

Thank you.

Someone threw me this packet last week. Sometimes the British do instead of flowers, you know, on the first night. That was a bouquet, too, from an American. Would you rather have whisky?

Oh, tea’s fine.

Good. I wanted to sell it. Oh, there is some tea left.

Had you known him some time?


I wanted to talk to you. No, thank you. I wanted to talk to you about him.

There’s nothing really to talk about, is there? Nothing.

Well, I saw you at the funeral.

I’m so sorry. I didn’t notice much.

You were in love with him, weren’t you?

I don’t know. How can you know a thing like that afterwards? I don’t know anything any more, except I want to be dead, too. Some more tea?

No. No tea. Would you like a cigarette?

Oh, American. Thank you. I like them.

I was talking to another friend of Harry’s, a Baron Kurtz.

Do you know him?

No. He’s got a little dog.

Oh, yes, yes.

Don’t understand what Harry saw in a fellow like that.

That was the man who brought me some money when Harry died. He said Harry had been anxious at the last moment.

Hmm. He said he remembered me, too.

Seems to show he wasn’t in much pain.

Dr Winkel told me that.

Dr Winkel? Who’s he?

A doctor Harry used to go to.

He was passing just after it happened.

His own doctor?


Well, were you at the inquest?

Yes. They said it wasn’t the driver’s fault.

Harry had often said what a careful driver he was.

He was Harry’s driver?


Well, uh… I don’t get it.

All of them there!

Uh, Kurtz, this Romanian, uh… Popescu, his own driver knocking him over, his own doctor just passing by.

No strangers there at all.

I know.

I’ve wondered about it 100 times,

if it really was an accident.

What difference does it make?

He’s dead, isn’t he?

But if it wasn’t an… Fräulein Schmidt.

I must hurry.

They don’t like us to use the lights.

The porter saw it happen.

Then why worry?

Look, do you know that porter?


What’s he saying?

He says it happened right down there.

Happened, yes.

Happened right down there.

You saw it?

Well, not saw, heard.

Heard. I heard the brakes.

And I got to the window and saw them carry the body to the other side, uh… of the Josef, the Josef…

Emperor Josef statue.

Why didn’t they bring him in the house?

Could he have been conscious?


Uh, was he still alive?

Ah, alive! He couldn’t have been alive, not with his head in the way it was.

I was told that he did not die at once.

No, I mean that…

No, you…

He was quite dead.

He was… Oh, yeah. He was quite dead.

He was quite dead.

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?

Uh, it’s better not to be mixed up in things like this.

Things like what?

I was not the only one who did not give evidence.

Who else?

Three men helped to carry your friend to the statue.



The Romanian?



There was a third man.

He didn’t give evidence.

You don’t mean the doctor?

No, no, no.

He came later, after they carried him to the Josef statue.

What did this man look like?

I didn’t see his face.

He didn’t look up. He was, uh… quite, uh… gewöhnlich, ordinary.

He… He might have been just anybody.

Just anybody.

Hello? Hello.



Who was that?

I don’t know. They didn’t answer.

But I was told there were only two men there.

You’ve got to tell your story to the police.

The police? Why police?

It’s nonsense! It is all nonsense!

It was an accident.

You don’t know it was an accident.

You only saw a dead man with three men carrying him.

I should have listened to my wife.

She said you were up to no good. Gossip.

Suppose I take your evidence to the police?

Now, hold on.

I have no evidence.

I saw nothing, I said nothing.

It’s not my business.

Well, make it your business.

Hold on.

I have always liked you, but you must not bring this gentleman again.

You must go at once, please. Please!


You shouldn’t get mixed up in this.

Well, if I do find out something, can I look you up again?

Why don’t you leave this town? Go home.

What is it?

What’s she talking about?

The police. They are searching my room.

What the devil?

Getting around, Martins?

Oh, pinning things on girls now.

Miss Schmidt, I should like to see your papers, please.

Don’t you give him anything.

Thank you.

You were born in Graz of Austrian parents?



It’s very good, sir, isn’t it, eh?

How much did you pay for this?

I’m afraid I shall have to keep this for a while, Miss Schmidt.

How do you expect her to live in this city without her papers?

Write her out a receipt, Paine.

And give her a receipt for those letters, too.

This way, miss.

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.

Must you take those?

They’ll be returned, miss.

They are private letters.

That’s all right, miss. Don’t worry.

We’re used to it. Like doctors.

There was a third man there. I suppose that doesn’t sound peculiar to you.

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.

I’m sorry.

Tactful, too, aren’t we, Callaghan?


Must you take those letters?

Yes, I’m afraid so.

They’re Harry’s.

That’s the reason.

You won’t learn anything from them.

They’re only love letters.

There are not many of them.

They’ll be returned to you, Miss Schmidt, as soon as they’ve been examined.

There’s nothing in them.

Harry never did anything.

Only a small thing once, out of kindness.

And what was that?

You’ve got it in your hand.

Major Calloway.


Yes. Okay.

You will have to come with us, Miss Schmidt.

You’re not locking her up.

Go home, Martins, like a sensible chap.

You don’t know what you’re mixing in.

Get the next plane.

As soon as I get to the bottom of this, I’ll get the next plane.

Death’s at the bottom of everything, Martins.

Leave death to the professionals.

Mind if I use that line in my next western?

You can’t chuck me out.

My papers are in order.

Here we are, miss.

Your receipt for the letters.

I don’t want it.

Well, I’ve got it when you want it, miss.

Anything really wrong with your papers?

They’re forged.



The Russians would claim me.

I come from Czechoslovakia.

What’s she saying?

Only complaining about the way they behave in her house.

Give her some cigarettes.

Uh, cigarettes, hmm?


Miss Schmidt, ready?

Now, look,

I’ll, uh… straighten out all this nonsense about Harry.

You’ll be all right.

Sometimes he said I laughed too much.

Oh, what’s the name of that doctor?

Harry’s doctor?

Dr Winkel.

What do you want to see a doctor for? Hmm?

A bruised lip.


Laboratory, we’re coming right down.

You wait here, Miss Schmidt.

Is Dr Winkel in?

Dr Winkel. I’m sorry. I don’t speak German.


Please, won’t you say that I’m a friend of Harry Lime?

Thank you.

Dr Winkel?


Uh, Dr Winkel.

Quite a collection of, uh… collection.


Come, come, come…

Is that your dog?

Yes. Would you mind, Mr, uh…


Martins, coming to the point, please?

Thank you.

I have guests waiting.

We were both friends of Harry Lime.

I was his medical adviser.

I want to find out all I can.

Find out?

Hear the details.

I can tell you very little.

He was run over by a car.

He was dead when I arrived.

Who was with him?

Two friends of his.

You sure? Two?

Quite sure.

Could he have been at all conscious?

I understand he was, yes, for a short time, while they carried him across the road.

In great pain?

Mmm, not necessarily.

Could he have been capable of making plans, for me and others just…

Just during those few moments?

I understand he left some instructions before he died.

I cannot give an opinion.

I was not there.

My opinion is, uh… limited to the causes of death.

Have you any reason to be dissatisfied?

Was it possible that his death might have been not accidental?

Could he have been…

Could he have been…

Pushed, Dr Winkel?


I cannot give an opinion.

The injuries to the head and skull would have been the same.

Major, may I see you for a moment, please?

Certainly, Brodsky. What is it?

This forgery is very clever, and we are interested in this case.

Have you arrested the girl?

No, not yet.

Please, keep this passport to yourself until I make some inquiries. Will you, Major?

Yes, of course.

Thank you.

Right, sit down, Miss Schmidt.

We’ll send your letters and things back to you.

And my passport?

We’ll need that for a while longer.

What did he mean?

You know as much as I do.

Miss Schmidt, you were intimate with Lime, weren’t you?

We loved each other. Do you mean that?

Do you know this man?

I’ve never seen him.

Joseph Harbin.


He works in a military hospital.


It’s stupid to lie to me, Miss Schmidt.

I’m in a position to help you.

I’m not lying.

You’re wrong about Harry.

You’re wrong about everything.

In one of his letters, he asked you to telephone a good friend of his called Joseph.

He gave you the number of the Casanova Club.

That’s where a lot of friends of Lime used to go.

It wasn’t important.

What was the message?

Something about meeting Harry at his home.

Harbin disappeared the day you telephoned.

We’ve got to find him.

You can help us.

What can I tell you, but you’ve got everything upside down.


That American friend of yours is still waiting for you.

He won’t do you much good.

I thank you, Miss Schmidt.

We’ll send for you when we want you.

Hello, Mr Martins. I’ve been trying to get you at your hotel.

I’ve arranged that lecture for tomorrow.

Well, what about?

On the modern novel.

You remember what we arranged.


Now, they want you to talk on the crisis of faith.

What’s that?

Oh, I thought you’d know. You’re a writer.

But of course you do.

Good night, young man.

Oh, I’ve forgotten my hat.

I’ll let you know the time later.




Two whiskies.

How much?

Oh, they don’t take army money here.

How much did he say?



He moved his head, but the rest is good, isn’t it?

Good evening, Miss Schmidt.

Good evening.

You’ve found out my little secret.

A man must live.

How goes the investigation?

Have you proved the policemen are wrong?

Not yet.

But you will. Our friend Dr Winkel said you had called.

Wasn’t he helpful?

Well, he was, uh… limited.

But Mr Popescu is here tonight.

The Romanian?

Yes, the man who helped carry him.

I thought he’d left Vienna.

He’s back now.

Well, I’d like to meet all of Harry’s friends.

I’ll bring him to you.

Haven’t you done enough for tonight?

The porter said three men carried the body, and two of them are here.

Who are you looking for now?

Don’t. Don’t. Please don’t.

Silly-looking bunch.

Mr Popescu, Mr Martins.

How do you do?

How do you do?

Any friend of Harry is a friend of mine.

I’ll leave you together.

Good evening, Miss Schmidt.

You remember me?

Of course.

I helped Harry fix her papers, Mr Martins.

Oh, you did?

Not the sort of thing I should confess to a stranger, but you have to break the rules sometimes.

Humanity is a duty.

Cigarette, Miss Schmidt?

Keep the pack.

I understand you were with Harry…

Two double whiskies.

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 to cross 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 truck…

It was terrible, Mr Martins. Terrible.

I’ve never seen a man killed before.

I think there was something funny about the whole thing.


Something wrong.

Of course there was.

Some ice for Mr Martins.

You think so, too, hmm?

It was so terribly stupid for a man like Harry

to be killed in an ordinary street accident.

That’s all you meant?

What else?

Who was the third man?

I oughtn’t to drink it.

It makes me acid.

What man would you be referring to, Mr Martins?

I was told that a third man helped you and Kurtz carry the body.

Oh, I don’t know how you got that idea.

You’ll find all about it in the police report.

There was just the two of us.

Me and the Baron.

Who could have told you a story like that?

The porter at Harry’s place.

He was cleaning the window at the time.

And saw the accident?

No, no, he didn’t see the accident, but he saw three men carrying the body.

Why wasn’t he at the police inquiry?

He didn’t want to get involved.

You’ll never teach these Austrians to be good citizens.

It was his duty to give the evidence.

Even so, he remembers wrong.

What else did he tell you?

That Harry was dead before you got him to that statue.

He probably knows a lot more than that.

Somebody’s lying.

Hmm, not necessarily.

The police say he was mixed up in some, uh… racket?

Oh, that’s quite impossible.

He had a great sense of duty.

Your friend Kurtz seems to think it was possible.

I understand how an Anglo-Saxon feels.

The Baron hasn’t travelled, you know?

He seems to have been around a bit.

Do you know a man called, uh… Harbin?


Joseph Harbin.

Joseph Harbin? No. No.

That’s a nice girl, that, but she ought to go careful in Vienna.

Everybody ought to go careful in a city like this.

He will meet us at the bridge. Good.

Hello! Is it so very important for you?

Yes, it is.

I am not a bad man.

I’d like to tell you something.

Tell me, how did the car…

Come tonight. My wife goes out.

All right, I’ll come back, but…

Shh! Tonight.

Does that mean come in?

Oh, yes, yes. Come in.

The porter’s going to talk to us tonight.

Need we go through it all again?

I can manage by myself. You busy?

Just another part I’ve got to learn.

Can I hear you?

In German?

I can try.

Is it comedy or tragedy?

Comedy. I don’t play tragedy.

Do I, uh… read…

Well, you read this.

Oh. Well, uh…

What’s that?

Uh, Heurigen, I guess.


Oh, let me see.

No, no, that’s not the cue.

It means she has to sit down.

Well, uh… Frau Hausman…

No, no.

It’s no good.

Bad day?

It’s always bad about this time.

He used to look in around 6:00.

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.

Tell you what?

Oh, anything. Just talk.

Where did you see him last?

When? What did you do?

Oh, we didn’t make much sense.

We drank too much.

Once he tried to steal my girl.

Where is she?

Oh, that was nine years ago.

Tell me more.

Well, it’s very difficult.

You knew Harry.

We didn’t do anything very amusing.

He just made everything seem like such, uh… fun.

Was he clever when he was a boy?

I suppose so. He could fix anything.

What sort of things?

Oh, little things.

How to put your temperature up before exam. The best crib.

How to avoid this and that.

He fixed my papers for me.

He heard the Russians were repatriating people like me who came from Czechoslovakia.

He knew the right person straightaway for forging stamps.


When he was 14, he taught me the three-card trick.

That’s growing up fast.

He never grew up.

The world grew up around him, that’s all.

And buried him.


You’ll fall in love again.

Don’t you see I don’t want to?

I don’t ever want to.

Come on out and have a drink.

Why did you say that?

Seemed like a good idea.

It was just what he used to say.

Well, uh… I didn’t learn that from him.

If we have to see the porter, we’d better go.

What’s the hurry? Can’t we talk quietly for a couple of minutes?

I thought you wanted…

A moment ago, you said you didn’t want to see the porter.

We’re both in it, Harry.


I’m so sorry.

It’s all right.

You might get my name right.

You know, you ought to find yourself a girl.

His English is so very bad, we’ll let him talk German.

If you’ll just be good enough to…


That’s Harry’s place, isn’t it?


Let’s go away.

What’s the matter?

Let’s not get into any more trouble.

Wait here.

What’s the matter?

Uh, what is, uh…

I… I don’t understand.

Um, porter, uh… dead.


The porter is…


He’s murdered.

I, uh… don’t understand.

What is it?

The porter’s been murdered.

They think you did it.


Their money’s no good.

Sneak out the other way and go back to your theatre.

I’d better not see you again.

What are you going to do?

I wish I knew.

Be sensible. Tell Major Calloway.

Get me Major Callaghan on the phone.

Oh, Mr Martins.

It’s very urgent.

Just get him on the telephone.

Uh, do you know his number?

No, I don’t know his number.

I’ll look it up for you.

Is there a car here I can use?

Of course. There’s one waiting for you.

Never mind about the number.

Take me to the headquarters…

Hold on! Hold on! I haven’t even told you where to take me yet!

Driver! Driver!

Slow down!

Have you got orders to kill me?

Mr Martins! What a relief to see you.

I was beginning to think something had happened to you.

Come along, Mr Martins.

Everything’s ready for you.

I was frantic in case you hadn’t got my message at the hotel.

The porters out here are so unreliable, if you know what I mean.

We’re all set for a wonderful meeting.

You’ll find the audience most appreciative.

Oh, let me take your coat. I’ve got it.

There’ll be refreshments afterwards.

Come along, Mr M. Follow me.

Well, here we are, ladies and gentlemen.

All’s well that ends well.

Would you look after those for me?

Thank you.

Would you like to sit there, Mr Martins?

That’s right.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have much pleasure in introducing Mr Holly Martins from the other side.


Bring the car and anyone else who’d like to come.

Don’t be long. Hmm.

Yeah, well, I… I suppose that is what I meant to say.

Of course, of course, of course.

Do you believe, Mr Martins, in the stream of consciousness?

Stream of consciousness? Well, uh…


What author has chiefly influenced you?


Grey? What Grey?

Zane Grey.

That’s Mr Martins’ little joke, of course.

We all know perfectly well Zane Grey wrote what we call “westerns.”

Cowboys and bandits.

Mr James Joyce.

Now, where would you put him?

Oh, uh… would you mind repeating that question?

I said, where would you put Mr James Joyce?

In what category?

Can I ask, is Mr Martins engaged on a new book?

Yes. It’s called The Third Man.

A novel, Mr Martins?

It’s a murder story.

I’ve just started it.

It’s based on fact.

Why, it’s Mr Popescu!

Oh, very great pleasure to see you here, Mr Popescu.

As you know, ladies and gentlemen, Mr Popescu is a very great supporter of one of our medical charities.

Are you a slow writer, Mr Martins?

Not when I get interested.

I’d say you were doing something pretty dangerous this time.


Mixing fact and fiction.

Should I make it all fact?

Why, no, Mr Martins.

I’d say stick to fiction.

Straight fiction.

I’m too far along with the book, Mr Popescu.

Haven’t you ever scrapped a book, Mr Martins?



Ladies and gentlemen, if there are no more questions for Mr Martins, I think I can call the meeting officially closed.

Who’s there? Who is it?

Who is it?

It’s all right. It’s all right.

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.

Put down drunk and disorderly, too.

I have.

What’s the matter with your hand?

Parrot bit me.

Oh, stop behaving like a fool, Martins.

I’m only a little fool. I’m an amateur at it.

You’re a professional.

You’ve been shaking your cap and bells all over town.

Paine, get me the Harry Lime file, and get Mr Martins a large whisky.

I don’t need your drinks, Calloway.

You will. I don’t want another murder in this case and you were born to be murdered, so you’re going to hear the facts.

You haven’t told me a single one yet.

Have you ever heard of penicillin?


In Vienna, there hasn’t been enough penicillin to go around.

So a nice trade started here.

Stealing penicillin from the military hospitals, diluting it to make it go further and selling it to patients.

Do you see what that means?

Are you too busy chasing a few tubes of penicillin to investigate a murder?

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 organised.

Calloway, you haven’t shown me one shred of evidence.

We’re just coming to that.

Paine, magic lantern show.

Very good, sir.

You know, Paine’s one of your devoted readers.

He’s promised to lend me one of your books.

Which one is it, Paine?

The Lone Rider of Santa Fe, sir.

That’s right. The Lone Rider of Santa Fe.

I’d like to visit Texas one day, sir.

Come on. Show me what you’ve got to show.

All right, Paine?

Yes, sir.

Paine, Paine, Paine.

I got them muddled.

It’s the new lot that’s just come in for Mr Crabbin.

See this man here? A fellow called Harbin, a medical orderly at the general hospital.

He worked for Lime and helped to steal the stuff from the laboratories.

We forced him to give information to us which led us as far as Kurtz and Lime.

But we didn’t arrest them, as our evidence wasn’t complete and it might have spoiled our chances of getting the others.

Next, Paine.

I’d like a word with this orderly Harbin.

So would I.

Well, bring him in.

I can’t. He disappeared a week ago.

This is more like a mortuary than police headquarters.

We have better witnesses. Look here.

How could he have done it?

£70 a tube.

Go back to the hotel, and do keep out of trouble.

I’ll try and fix things with the Austrian police. You’ll be all right in the hotel but I can’t be responsible for you on the streets.

I’m not asking you to.

I’m sorry, Martins.

I’m sorry, too.

You still got that aeroplane ticket on you?

We’ll send one across to your hotel in the morning.

Thank you. Excuse me.

Get me Austrian police headquarters.

Can I have that woman’s passport?

You know, the Anna Schmidt one.


We’re not going to pick her up for that, are we?

What can we do?

We have our instructions.


It’s me.


What is it? What’s happened to you?

Just came to see you.

Come in.

I thought you were going to keep away.

Are the police after you?

I don’t know.

You’re drunk, aren’t you?

A bit. I’m sorry.

But I did want to say goodbye before I pushed off.

I’m going back home.


It’s what you’ve always wanted.

All of you.

Kitty? Here, kitty.

Kitty? Here, kitty.

Kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty.

Don’t you want to play, kitty?

Aw, sleepy? Sleepy, kitty?

Not very sociable, is he?

No, he only liked Harry.

What made you decide so suddenly?

Uh, I brought you these.

Uh, they got a little wet.

What happened to your hand?

A parrot…

Let it go.

Have you seen Calloway?

Imagine a parrot nipping a man.

Have you?


Oh, I…

I’ve been saying goodbye all over, you know.

He told you, didn’t he?

Told me?

About Harry.

Do you know?

I’ve seen Major Calloway today.

He’s better dead.

I knew he was mixed up, but not like that.

I knew him for 20 years.

At least, I thought I knew him.

Suppose he was laughing at fools like us all the time?

He liked to laugh.

£70 a tube.

He wanted me to write for his great medical charity.

I’ll put these flowers in the water.

Perhaps I could have raised the price to £80 for him.

Oh, please. For heaven’s sake, stop making him in your image.

Harry was real.

He wasn’t just your friend and my lover.

He was Harry.

Well, don’t preach wisdom to me.

You talk about him as if he had occasional bad manners.

No. I don’t know.

I’m just a hack writer who drinks too much and falls in love with girls.



Don’t be such a fool. Of course.

If you’d rung me up and asked me were you fair or dark or had a moustache, I wouldn’t have known.

Oh, 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…


Maybe I would’ve killed him myself.

A person doesn’t change because you find out more.

Look. I’ve got a splitting headache, and you stand there and just talk and talk and talk.

I… I hate it.

That’s the first time I ever saw you laugh.

Do it again.

There isn’t enough for two laughs.

I’d make comic faces and stand on my head and grin at you between my legs and tell all sorts of jokes…

I wouldn’t stand a chance, would I?


You did tell me I ought to find myself a girl.

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, and let’s have a look at ya.

Who’s your boss?



I followed his shadow until suddenly…


This is where he vanished.

I see.

I suppose you don’t believe me.


Look. I tell you…

You don’t think I’m blind, do you?


Where were you when you saw him first?

Fifty yards right down there.

Which side of the road?

I was on that side.

His shadow was on that side.

And there are no turnings on either side.

What about the doorways?

I tell you, I heard him running ahead of me!

Yes, yes, yes.

And then he vanished out there, I suppose, with a puff of smoke and like a clap of…

It wasn’t the German gin.

Well, what’s this? Where are we?

It’s the main sewer.

Runs right into the blue Danube.

Smells sweet, doesn’t it?

We should have dug deeper than a grave.

You knew him, Major?

Hmm. Yes.

Yes. Joseph Harbin.

Medical orderly at the general hospital.

He used to work for Harry Lime.

Joseph Harbin?


He’s the man I told you was missing.

Next time we’ll have a fool proof coffin.

Where are you taking me?

International police headquarters, just to check up.

I’m sorry, miss. It’s orders.

We can’t go against the protocol.

I don’t even know what protocol means.

Neither do I, miss.

Mademoiselle, your lipstick.

Thank you.

Anna, what’s happened to you?

All right, all right. Keep out of this.

Listen, I’ve got to talk to you.

I’ve just seen a dead man walking.

All right, chum. Get back.

I saw him buried.

Have you?

And now I’ve seen him alive.

Just a minute. Bring her in here.

You stay out here.

Come in, Miss Schmidt. Now then, Miss Schmidt, I’m not interested in your forged papers. That’s purely a Russian case. When did you last see Lime?

Two weeks ago.

I want the truth, Miss Schmidt. We know he’s alive.

It is true, then.

Joseph Harbin’s body was found in the coffin.

What did you say? I’m sorry.

I said another man was buried in his place.

Where’s Harry?

That’s what we want to find out.

I’m sorry. I don’t seem able to understand anything you say. I… He is alive. Now this minute, he is doing something.

Miss Schmidt, we know he’s somewhere across the canal in the Russian sector. You may as well help us.

In a few minutes, Colonel Brodsky will be questioning you about your papers. Tell me where Lime is.

I don’t know.

If you help me, I am prepared to help you.

Martins always said you were a fool.

Vienna is a closed city, Miss Schmidt. He can’t get away. Right.

Poor Harry. I wish he was dead. He would be safe from all of you then.

Why, that’s you! Come up. Winkel, look who is here.

I want to speak to you, Kurtz.

Of course. Come up.

I’ll wait here.

I don’t understand.

I want to talk to Harry.

Are you mad?

All right. I’m mad. I’ve seen a ghost. You tell Harry I want to see him.

Be reasonable. Come up and talk.

No, thank you. I like the open. Tell him I’ll wait by that wheel there. Or do ghosts only rise by night, Dr Winkel? You got an opinion on that?

Hello, old man. How are you?

Hello, Harry.

Well, well, they seem to be giving you quite some busy time.

Well, listen.

Hmm, yes?

I want to talk to you.

Talk to me? Well, of course. Come on.

Kids used to ride this thing a lot in the old days.

But they haven’t the money now, poor devils.

Listen, Harry. I didn’t believe that…

It’s good to see you, Holly.

I was at your funeral.

That was pretty smart, wasn’t it? Oh, the same old indigestion, Holly. These are the only things that help, these tablets. These are the last. Can’t get ’em anywhere in Europe any more.

Do you know what’s happened to your girl?


She’s been arrested.

Tough. Very tough. But don’t worry, old man. They won’t hurt her.

They’re handing her over to the Russians.

What can I do, old man?

I’m dead, aren’t I?

You can help somehow.


Exactly who did you tell about me, hmm?

I told the police.

Unwise, Holly.

And Anna.

Unwise. Did the, uh… police believe you?

You don’t care anything at all about Anna, do you?

I’ve got quite a lot on my mind.

You wouldn’t do anything.

What do you want me to do? Be reasonable.

You can get somebody else…

Do you expect me to give myself up?

Why not?

It’s a far, far better thing that I do, the old limelight, the fall of the curtain. No. Holly, you and I aren’t heroes. The world doesn’t make any heroes…

You’ve got plenty of contacts.

…outside of your stories. I’ve got to be so careful. I’m only safe in the Russian zone. I’m only safe here as long as they can use me. As long as they can use you? I wish I could get rid of this thing.

So that’s how they found out about Anna.

You told them, didn’t you?

Don’t try to be a policeman, old man.

What do you expect me to be? Part of your…


You can have any part you want as long as you don’t interfere.

I’ve never cut you out of anything.

Yes, I remember when they raided the gambling joint, you knew a safe way out.


Yeah, safe for you. Not safe for me.

Old man, you never should have gone to the police, you know. You ought to leave this thing alone.

Have you ever seen any of your victims?

You know, I never feel comfortable on these sort of things. Victims? Don’t be melodramatic. Tell me. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you £20,000 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.

A lot of good your money will do you in jail.

That jail’s in another zone. There’s no proof against me… Besides you.

I should be pretty easy to get rid of.

Pretty easy.

I wouldn’t be too sure.

I carry a gun. I don’t think they’d look for a bullet wound after you hit that ground.

They dug up your coffin.

And found Harbin? Pity. Holly. What fools we are talking to each other this way as though I’d do anything to you or you to me. You’re just a little mixed up about things in general. 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, and so have I.

You used to believe in God.

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? Well, if you ever get Anna out of this mess, be kind to her. You’ll find she’s worth it. I wish I had asked you to bring me some of those tablets from home. Holly, I would like to cut you in, old man. There’s nobody left in Vienna I can really trust, and we have 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 is you I want to see, not the police. Remember that, won’t you? And don’t be so gloomy. After all, it’s not that awful. Remember what the fellow 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.

But, look here, Martins. You can always arrange to meet him at some little cafe here in the international zone.

It wouldn’t work.

We’ll never get him in the Russian zone.

Calloway, you expect too much. Oh, I know he deserves to hang, you proved your stuff. But 20 years is a long time. Don’t ask me to tie the rope.

Okay, forget it.

Busy, Major?

What is it, Brodsky?

We have identified the girl. Here is her report.

I’ve questioned her. We’ve got nothing against her.

We shall apply for her at the Four Power meeting tomorrow.

She has no right to be here.

I’ve asked your people to help with Lime.

That’s a different case. It is being looked into. So long, Major.

In the last war, a general would hang his opponent’s picture on the wall. He got to know him that way. I’m beginning to know Lime. I think this would have worked, with your help.

What price would you pay?

Name it.

Here we are. You’ll be all right here, miss.

I don’t understand Major Calloway.

I expect he’s got a soft spot for you, miss.

Why has he done all this?

Don’t you worry, miss. You’re well out of things. There we are, miss.

Thank you, you have been so kind.

Well, I’ll be saying good night. Good night, miss.

Are you going, too?


What are you doing here?

I wanted to see you off.

See me off? From here?

Oh, I watched you out on the train. Uh, no harm in that, is there?

How did you know I would be here?

I heard something about it at police headquarters.

Have you been seeing Major Calloway again?

Of course not. I don’t live in his pocket.

Harry, what is it?

For heaven’s sake, stop calling me Harry.

I’m sorry.

Hey, come on.

What is on your mind? Why did you hide here?

Hide? Can’t a fellow have a drink? Here, it will be cold on that train.

I shall be all right.

You send me a wire as soon as you arrive.

What is going to happen? Where is Harry?

He’s safe in the Russian zone.

How do you know?

Oh, I saw him today.

How is he?

He can look after himself, don’t worry.

Did he say anything about me? Tell me.

Oh, the usual things.

There’s something wrong. Did you tell Calloway about meeting Harry?

Of course I didn’t tell Calloway.

Why should he help me like that? The Russians will only make trouble for him.

Oh, that’s his headache.


Oh, well.

Why are you lying?

We’re getting you out of here, aren’t we?

I’m not going.

You… Anna, don’t you recognise a good turn when you see one?

You have seen Calloway. What are you two doing?

Well, they asked me to help take him, and I’m helping.

Poor Harry.

Poor Harry? Poor Harry wouldn’t even lift a finger to help you.

Oh, you’ve got your precious honesty and don’t want anything else.

You still want him.

I don’t want him any more.

I don’t want to see him, hear him, but he is still part of me. That’s a fact. I couldn’t do a thing to harm him.

Oh, Anna, why do we always have to quarrel?

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.

Oh, Calloway.

Oh, there you are.

Come in here, there isn’t much time.

I want to get a plane out of here tonight.

So she talked you out of it.

She gave me these.

A girl of spirit.

She’s right. It is none of my business.

It won’t make any difference in the long run. I’ll get him.

Well, I won’t have helped.

That’ll be a fine boast to make. Well, I always wanted you to catch that plane, didn’t I?

You all did.

I’d better see if there’s anyone still at the terminus. You may need a priority.

Do you mind if I drop off somewhere on the way? I’ve got an appointment, it won’t take five minutes.

Of course.

Why don’t you come in, too? You’re a writer. It might interest you.

This is the biggest children’s hospital in Vienna. All the kids in here are the result of Lime’s penicillin racket.

It had meningitis. They gave it some of Lime’s penicillin. Terribly pity, isn’t it?

Paine lent me one of your books, Oklahoma Kid, I think it was. I read a bit of it. Looks as if it’s going to be pretty good. What made you take up this sort of thing? Been doing it for long?

All right, Calloway. You win.

I never knew there were snake charmers in Texas.

I said, you win.

Win what?

I’ll be your dumb decoy duck.



Look, sir.

How much longer are you going to sit here?

Shall I go over there, sir?

No, no. Leave them for a while.

Nein, danke. Nein.


Go on, hop it, scarper!

Come on… All right, all right. Only one. Go on, scarper.

You should have gone. How did you know I was here anyway?

From Kurtz. They have just been arrested. But Harry won’t come, he’s not a fool.

Yes, Paine. Slip over there. See what she is up to.

Right, sir.

Don’t tell me you’re doing all this for nothing. What is your price this time?

No price, 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!


Shoot him! In the back!

All right.

Martins, get back!


Is that you? You’re through, Harry.

Come out!

You haven’t got a chance this way.

What do you want?

You might as well give up.

Mr Martins, sir, get back! Get back! Keep back, sir, come back! Come back, sir!

Martins! Martins! Be careful, Martins! Don’t take any chances! If you see him, shoot!

What time is it?


I’ll have to step on it, if you’re going to catch that plane.

Calloway, can’t you do something about Anna?

I’ll do what I can, if she’ll let me.

Wait a minute. Let me out.

Well, there’s not much time.

One can’t just leave. Please.

Be sensible, Martins.

I haven’t got a sensible name, Calloway.


1 thought on “THE THIRD MAN (1949) – TRANSCRIPT”

  1. clayton miller

    I love how Harry Lime quotes Dickens when speaking to Holly:

    “It is a far, far better thing that I do . . .”

    It doesn’t get much more famous than the last line of a Dickens novel: ‘It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known. ”

    Sydney Carton says these words as he awaits his fast approaching death. Sydney has volunteered his own life to save the life of his true love’s husband, Charles Darnay, who was condemned to death by guillotine for the crimes of his father and brother.

    Harry Lime is definitely NO Sydney Carton. Quite to the contrary, he even even admits (later in the same conversation with Holly) that he is the one who betrayed his girlfriend, Anne, to the Russians. Of course, the irony being that later Holly does the exact same thing to Lime in return for Anne being allowed safe conduct out of Vienna.

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