on April 5, 2003
For those disappointed with the 'Third Man Soundtrack' CD. Weep not. Buy this one. It is the closest thing I've been able to find to a true Third Man soundtrack. Not only does it contain all of the music from the film (as far as I can tell) it also features some of his other work. This particular CD is amongst my very favorites: Both for the quality and amount of music (25 tracks!) and it goes without saying, for the talent and of Kara's playing. Which is at once both beautiful, poignant and not without its humor.
I am delighted that Amazon is now listing this CD!
on February 18, 2007
Carol Reed's veteran cinematographer Robert Krasker's quirky angles under Reed's direction perfectly framed the ready-made-for-an-art designer bombed out shadows and stark, isolated street lights of post-war Vienna and its underworld. Unique to cinema history the whole score (but for some canned incidental cafe music) was just the brilliant zither playing of Anton Karas, adding his nuances to every dramatic transition. Krasker won an Oscar, and Karas was nominated.
The "Third Man Theme" (also known as the "Harry Lime Theme") is alternately brittle, jaunty, bittersweet, romantic, wry, and even sardonic piece of music--which fits the mood of the story and the film perfectly -- that, once heard, can't be forgotten.
The "Third Man Theme" turned Anton Karas into a wealthy man after 28 years of toiling in obscurity an relative poverty in Vienna.
One night, Carol Reed was passing by a wine tavern where growers offer their own wines for sale directly, and heard Anton Karas's playing in the background. Reed had never heard a zither before and found the sound to be attractive. He approached Karas and persuaded him to play for him at his hotel, and made a recording, which Reed brought back to the studio to test. He liked the effect when the zither's sound was placed against the recorded dialogue and, ignoring the protests of many around him, hired Karas and brought him to London for 12 weeks.
Anton Karas screened the movie hundreds of times, devising music for each scene. The Third Man ended up with a vast amount of music, scored in virtually every scene of its 104 minutes. Ironically, the piece that became known as the "Third Man Theme" was something that Anton Karas had written two decades earlier and hadn't played in over 15 years. As he later explained to Reed, playing the zither for a whole night for tips was hard work, and one tended to play the easiest pieces the most often, to save the fingers.
Other zither players never got it to sound just right. The truth was that as recorded for the movie, "The Third Man Theme" was one of the first practical examples of overdubbing on a hit record, rivaling Les Paul's work--Anton Karas had gotten just the right effect working underneath Reed's kitchen table, and had gotten the piece just right by recording and mixing more than one zither part.
The Third Man was finished and prepared for release, and Reed and the production company, London Films, tried to raise interest in it through the music. None of the record companies, however, was interested in recording Karas or releasing the "Third Man Theme." The music was too strange and different, and although British movies had produced some soundtrack successes in the past, those were usually more conventional light classical pieces, not a jangly piece of music played on a central European folk instrument.
on September 15, 2008
"The Third Man" is one of the greatest movies ever made, and one of the most distinctive things that made it so was is its soundtrack. It consisted entirely of a single person, Anton Karas, playing a very unusual instrument, the concert zither. This CD, and no other (to my knowledge), contains the original tracks from the movie (two of them, "Rendezvous Waltz" and "Farewell to Vienna", previously unissued), and a great deal more, all arranged or composed, and played, by Anton Karas. Almost all the music here is just as evocative as what you hear in the film. It also stands very well on its own and is a delight to listen to.
The accompanying notes are fascinating reading, not only about Karas himself but also about the making of the film and the subsequent popularity of the famous Third Man Theme.
Two very minor caveats: Firstly, it's mono, as if this should matter (it's the music that counts). Secondly, to my taste, the two tracks with Kay Armen singing don't quite fit in stylistically with the rest of it.
The bottom line: If you like "The Third Man," you'll love this CD.
on August 2, 2010
The Third Man is one of my all time favorite films. The music has always left me with the flavor of the film, the setting and the story. I don't remember the year when I first saw the film, but it was a nearly new film at the time. I remember the Third Man Theme from 1949 when it became popular. In my opinion, this is the best recording of the film music. While the CD is in monaural sound, and the actual recording is not as perfect as it could be in today's world, it does a near perfect job of putting me right smack dab in the middle of the story as if I was seeing it for the first time. Excellent!
on March 24, 2013
There is something about the sound of a zither that I love, and Anton Karas was an absolute master of this instrument. In case you're interested the answer is yes, I do play an instrument. I play a 12-string guitar, but I could never make it sound like Mr. Karas' zither. My mother loved "Third Man Theme," so I bought her the old, heavy duty vinyl one, and then got one for myself. I still have it, by the way. I purchased this CD so I could continue to listen to Karas' music. There is something about a zither than just relaxes a person. I find the music has a certain quality that just soothes one clear through. The zither was the original "easy listening" music, and it still is. If you want about an hour's worth of beautiful, Viennese music, then this is a "must have!"
on March 28, 2016
Love the Third Man music (which is why I bought the CD), but also fell in love many of the other tracks, especially the vocals with Kay Armen. Can't seem to get "I'm in the Middle of a Riddle Over You" and "Where Do I Go From You." I can't imagine anyone who enjoys zither music being disappointed with this.
on September 20, 2012
As a child, I grew up watching "The 3rd Man" on TV, but especially loving the title music, and it led me to purchasing Anton Kara's "The Third Man" LP. As years went by, I ventured into many flea markets looking for more of his albums. It wasn't until many years later that I saw "The Third Man" movie with Orson Wells and got to actually see Karas in the film. Top that off with listening to the "3rd Man" radio show and that clinched the deal. This CD was a must have item, and how I love it. Now I know many of the names of the songs that I heard on radio and in the movie.....Karas was a master of the zither and one has nothing to do but close their eyes as they listen and be transported to Vienna of old as the cuts go by. A MUST HAVE CD.