David O. Selznick repeated many times in his memos during the production of The Third Man
that Korda, Reed, and Greene were conspiring against him and ignoring his suggestions. When a print of the film was delivered to New York (after drawn out renegotiations of the terms between Korda and Selznick upon the enormous success of the film in England), Selznick had it rushed to a theater in New Rochelle for a preview with an American audience. Based on the preview cards and on his own long-standing concerns, Selznick cut the picture before distributing it in North America through his Selznick Releasing Organization. The American cut of the film was 93 minutes, or roughly 11 minutes shorter than Reed's cut. There were no retakes or additions, although the opening narration by Reed was rewritten and read by Cotten in character as Holly Martins. There were no scenes cut in their entirety - they were trims in the length of existing scenes. For anyone who has seen both versions, though, it is hard to justify Selznick's cuts, which weaken the pacing, continuity and most of all, the atmosphere of Reed's original.
The movie poster art for the American release of THE THIRD MAN
emphasized Valli in close-ups, then Cotten in smaller images, and finally, mystery was hinted at by showing Welles cloaked in shadow or along the edges. The taglines on the advertising veered into the ridiculous, however, as evidenced by these gems: "Cats loved him...and so did Women!" and "He'll put you in a dither with his Zither!"
Joseph Cotten and Valli were cast in THE THIRD MAN
due primarily to being under contract to David O. Selznick. What is not commonly reported is that Orson Welles had his own contract with the film's other executive producer, Alexander Korda. That contract was non-exclusive, however, and he and Korda had never been able to agree on a suitable project. It called for Welles to both direct and act, and to receive a portion of the profits of whatever film resulted. When Welles was contacted about working in THE THIRD MAN
, it was to be under the terms of this contract, even though Welles was not directing. Welles needed fast cash, though, to continue work on his own production of Othello
. The terms were changed then, so that Welles would receive a flat fee and no profit participation. Of course Welles was to regret this later, as THE THIRD MAN
made millions worldwide.
Director Reed was knighted, becoming Sir Carol Reed, in 1952 - shortly after the worldwide success of THE THIRD MAN
Joseph Cotten once again played Holly Martins in the 1950 Lux Radio Theater version of "The Third Man" with Evelyn Keyes playing the role of Anna.
In the American Billboard charts for 1950, "The 3rd Man Theme" placed twice in the Top Ten. The Anton Karas recording was Number 3 on the cart, while the Guy Lombardo cover version followed it at Number 4. Combined sales of the tune would easily make it the Number One song of 1950.
In 1950, later in the same year that THE THIRD MAN
saw release in America, Joseph Cotten and Valli were teamed again in a movie called Walk Softly, Stranger
. This Noir-like romance was directed by Robert Stevenson, and the advertising for it traded heavily on the success of THE THIRD MAN
For its 50th Anniversary in 1999, new restored prints of the British version of THE THIRD MAN
were struck for a major re-issue campaign around the world. The film did very well at the Art House box-office, earning over $596,000 in the United States alone.
by John Miller
Famous Quotes from THE THIRD MAN
Calloway: Go home Martins, like a sensible chap. You don't know what you're mixing in, get the next plane.
Martins: 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.
Martins: Mind if I use that line in my next Western?
Popescu: That's a nice girl, that. But she ought to go careful in Vienna. Everybody ought to go careful in a city like this.
Martins: I guess nobody really knew Harry like he did...like I did.
Calloway: How long ago?
Martins: Back in school. I was never so lonesome in my life until he showed up.
Calloway: When did you see him last?
Martins: September, '39.
Calloway: When the business started?
Martins: Um hmm.
Calloway: See much of him before that?
Martins: Once in a while. Best friend I ever had.
Calloway: That sounds like a cheap novelette.
Martins: Well, I write cheap novelettes.
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. What's the matter with your hand?
Martins: A parrot bit me.
Calloway: Oh, stop behaving like a fool, Martins...
Martins: Have you ever seen any of your victims?
Harry Lime: Victims? Don't be melodramatic. (Indicating people below the Great Wheel): Look down there. 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.
Harry Lime: Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. It's 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.
Calloway (to Martins): I don't want another murder in this case, and you were born to be murdered.
Martins: That's the first time I ever saw you laugh. Do it again.
Anna: There isn't enough for two laughs.
Calloway: Paine lent me one of your books - 'Oklahoma Kid' I think it was. I read a bit of it - looked as if it was going to be pretty good. What made you take up this sort of thing? Been doing it for long?
Martins: Alright, Calloway - you win.
Calloway: I never knew there were snake charmers in Texas.
Martins: I said you win.
Calloway: Win what?
Martins: I'll be your dumb decoy duck.
Calloway: We should have dug deeper than a grave.
Compiled by John Miller