The Third Man

BBC (ended 1965)


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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.