Black SplatThe Third Man (1949)

"Victims? Don’t be melodramatic, Holly. Look down there. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving—forever?"

The Third Man - Orson Welles as Harry Lime

Description: - Orson Welles as Harry Lime entices his friend Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) with a ghastly proposition in the motion picture The Third Man (1949).

Holly Martins is an out-of-work pulp fiction novelist. One day, he recieves a job offer from his ex-school chum Harry Lime to come to post-war Vienna. But when Holly arrives he discovers his friend is dead from a car accident. Holly attends Harry's funeral, but when Holly hears conflicting information about his friend's demise, he begins to investigate the true story.

Holly soon learns that Harry Lime was the leader of a gang of black marketeers who robbed penicillin suplies from a military hospital. To make further profits, the gang diluted the drugs and resold them on the black market. The adulterization of the drug caused the death of many children.

A short time later, Harry comes out of hiding and meets with Holly on the Wiener Riesenrad Ferris wheel ride. As the wheel rises high into the sky, a very disapointed Holly asks his old friend “Have you ever visited the children's hospital? Have you seen any of your victims? To which, Harry replies:

"Victims? Don’t be melodramatic, Holly. Look down there. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving—forever? If I said you could have twenty thousand pounds for every dot that stops, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money—without hesitation? Or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man. Free of income tax. It’s the only way to save nowadays.”

The Third Man - Holly Martins and Harry Lime on a Carousel Ride

As Harry invites Holly to "Look down there," Holly suspects that Harry may want to push him off the Ferris wheel, but Holly doesn't give Harry the opportunity. It is at this time that Holly realizes that Harry's job offer entailed working as a recketeer. Of course, he had no interest in such an endeavor.

"In Italy for thirty 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, and they had five hundred years of democracy and peace. And what did that produce? The cuckoo clock." - Harry Lime

The Third Man - Harry escapes throuhg a sewer tunnel

In the end, the police ask Holly's help in capturing Harry Lime. Although reluctant, Holly agrees after a police officer takes Holly to a hospital ward filled with sick children.

As they set their trap to catch Harry Lime, the police, who suspect he will use the sewer tunnels as his route of escape, cover all possible exits.

During the pursuit, Harry shots and kills one officer and receives a bullet wound of his own. Seeking escape to the streets above, Harry climbs a ladder to access a sewer grate, but he finds it will not open. Just then Holly arrives, fires his gun and kills his old friend.

Before leaving for America, Holly goes to Harry's second funeral. Once again, in attendence is Anna, Harry's former lover. When Holly attempts to speak with her, she snubs him and just walks on by.

Note: At a bookstore in Vienna, Holly mentions that his next book would be entitled "The Third Man." The title referred to the fact that at the scene of Harry's faked car accident death, some withnesses reported seeing a "third man" (who turns out to be Harry). The man killed in the car accident was a hospital employee who helped Harry steal the penicillin. Harry placed that man's body in the casket at his first funeral. A fact later discovered by the police.

The Third Man - Movie Poster

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