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In Search of The Third Man Paperback – August 1, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Limelight Editions; Limelight ed edition (August 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879102942
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879102944
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #617,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By William Hare on January 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
"In Search of the Third Man" is a well researched work that is ambitiously written and contains numerous fascinating anecdotes about one of the greatest films ever made, Sir Carol Reed's "The Third Man." Charles Drazin takes us back in time to just after World War Two in Vienna, making the reader feel a part of the dramatic filmmaking process. The activities were so involved as well as interesting that a movie about the making of "The Third Man" might prove almost as interesting as the magnificent cinema classic itself.
The film was a co-production effort involving Britain and America. Two legendary figures were involved in each continent, the fascinating Eastern European emigre Sir Alexander Korda in London and David O. Selznick in Hollywood. Assistant director Guy Hamilton relates that dealing with Selznick's renowned memos entailed virtually a full time job in itself. Selznick was worried at various points about Joseph Cotten being too much of a bumbler, making Americans in general look bad, as well as fearing that Cotten and his longtime friend from Mercury Theater days, Orson Welles, were both "frustrated writers" who would make life miserable for Reed by ad libbing lines. As fate turned out, only one ad lib was delivered, Welles' memorable line to Cotten after exiting the giant ferris wheel in the Vienna Woods about Italy achieving the Renaissance during a 30 year period of bloodshed and Switzerland, after centuries of peace, becoming notable for the cuckoo clock.
One humorous segment of the book involves the pursuit of Welles, who had fled throughout Europe before being discovered in Venice, the actor's way of obtaining revenge against Korda for a period of inactivity while under contract to him.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jonesy on September 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
I tell it to you straight. A terrific read. This book is lucid, well-researched, intelligent, and beautifully written. And it is supremely enjoyable. If you think the Third Man is one of the great films of all time (and I do), you will acquire more information on the context, the story-line, the dramatis personae, the music (THAT theme), and the politics, than you might ever thought you could need (ie, Joseph Cotten was a womaniser, Trevor Howard was a soak). And you will clear out of the mental attic of the PR mythologizing which has grown around it (ie, that super-ego Orson Welles was the true eminence grise - when he was hardly even on the set). Right wing, nationalist Americans won't like because it shows how the American side of the co-production was focused on how it should present Americans in the best possible light (ie, brave, smart, democratic, etc) and ended up 'dumbing it down' for the American release (presumably because they cynically thought that Americans couldn't deal with Greene's subtle script).

The author holds the director and prime motivator, Carol Reed, in the highest possible regard. Here is someone utterly lacking in pretension; utterly obsessive on the detail; humanistic; a real charmer - someone cute enough able to deploy those actors' inflated egos to help extract the best possible performances (and in some cases get them just to turn up) yet ultimately the workaholic consumate craftsperson. He also shows that while US producer Selznick was a bullying oaf, he also contributed ideas which provided some of the film's real strengths (ie, the last scene which ducks the predictable happy ever after ending).

It is more than a book about a film.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Scott on July 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
The Third Man is my favorite movie. When I first discovered it, I had just finished living for more than a year and a half in Austria, much of it in Vienna, so the untranslated Viennese dialect and familiar sights (though "bombed out a bit") added to the appeal of what was already an excellent movie.

This book has been on my wish list for a long time, so I was thrilled when I recently received it for my birthday. I devoured it in less than two days. The background stories enhance the movie for me, and were mostly fun to read (although they dragged a bit near the end of the book, after the parts about the movie being released and the trouble with the American release.

I only have one problem with this book. When a writer writes a book that is based on extensive research, he should be careful that everything is accurate. Little mistakes like calling the Austrian money "Schillers" instead of "Schillings," writing about "the Am Hof" when it should simply be "Am Hof" ("The Am Hof" would mean "the On the Hof," which makes no sense), calling the horse-drawn carriages fiacres instead of Fiaker, and falsely writing very simple German phrases, are the kinds of mistakes that can easily be checked during editing cycles. The problem is, when I run across mistakes in the things I know about, it's hard to fully trust the information that is new to me because I wonder if the author's fact-checking is as shoddy throughout the book as it is in those particular areas.

Still, the book entertained me and deepened my appreciation of a great movie, which is exactly what I wanted from it, so I won't mark it down much for the shoddy fact-checking on certain Austrian cultural points that are only tangentially important to the discussion of the movie.
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