The Third Man

BBC (ended 1965)



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The Third Man

Show Summary

The Third Man was an early private detective show. Harry Lime is an international man of mystery - unruffable, handsome, and witty, who lives on the edge of danger. Bradford Webster is the conservative treasurer of his corporations. The series was based on the 1949 film noir The Third Man starring Orson Welles. The character was changed from a criminal into a sort of "thief with a conscience" for the subsequent popular 1951 radio series, "The Lives of Harry Lime" (also starring Welles). The TV series changes the premise that Harry Lime died at the end of the movie, and morphs him from a criminal into a much less ambiguous, more sympathetic, man with a conscience. The show aired in the United States on NBC, and was a joint production of BBC Television, the National Telefilm Associates of America, and the British Lion Film Corporation. The first 20 episodes were filmed in Hollywood at 20th Century-Fox. The last 4 episodes were not shown on BBC; just on NBC.moreless
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  • The lives of Harry Lime, from the novel, to the big screen, to the radio, then to the small screen.

    The Third Man was a novel written by Graham Greene, which was turned into a classic film noir in 1949 starring Joseph Cotton as Holly Martens, an out of work pulp fiction writer who gets an invitation to Vienna from his a childhood friend, Harry Lime, played by Orson Welles. What he finds is mystery and intrigue. Though he appeared only briefly, Welles' Lime stole the show. Capitalizing on this, Welles' took "The Lives of Harry Lime" to radio in 1951, a prequel to the movie. In it Lime was a 20th century Jesse james who stole onlu from those far greedier than he. Later in the 1950s The Third Man went to television. This time, Michael Rennie took over as a different (physically and otherwise) Harry Lime, an ex-black marketeer who had gone legit, now head of Harry Lime Ltd., an import-export company. He was assisted by Bradford Webster, a conservative but somewhat timid man, played by Jonathan Harris, better known as Dr. Smith in "Lost In Space". By now Harry Lime in many ways more closely resembled Holly Martens than Welles' villainous black marketeer.

    Though now a legitimate businessman, Lime is often confronted by his checkered past, leading to intrigue, and often danger. If you like stories of international intrigue, you should love "The Third Man", from the novel to the TV series.moreless