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The Third Man 50th Edition

68 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0140286823
ISBN-10: 0140286829
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Greene's novella, or "entertainment," was written in 1950 as a sort of preliminary draft for a screenplay and was not actually intended to stand alone as a written work. The motion picture, stated Greene, is better than the story because it is the story in its finished state, and it is the film, starring Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles, that most people will remember. This audiobook, however, brings the story to life very effectively, with all its suspense, odd turns of plot, and intriguing characters placed in the powerful setting of post-World War II Vienna. Murder, racketeering, mystery, and subterfuge combine for a compelling tale that is simple, economical, concise, and very satisfying. Reader Martin Jarvis communicates the mood and pace with intensity and skill and good character differentiation. Chapter breaks and side ends are marked musically by, what else, the famous zither-performed theme song. The story, complete on two cassettes, will please patrons who prefer a shorter commitment. Recommended for all popular collections.?Harriet Edwards, East Meadow P.L., NY
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


* Still, for me, the best thriller ever written. Just the thing to listen to on the flight to Vienna - Jarvis reads it perfectly. Sue Arnold, The Guardian * The narration is superb...taut and powerful. The Daily Telegraph --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 50th edition (May 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140286829
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140286823
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,999 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Linda Linguvic HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on May 22, 2002
Format: Paperback
When Graham Green wrote this in 1949, he had a screenplay in mind. However, even though this short novella is only 157 pages long, it certainly can stand on its own. The setting is post-war Vienna, a once-beautiful city that was now nothing but war rubble. It's administered by the four victorious nations, Russia, France, Great Britain and the United States, and they all communicate with each other in the language of their former enemy. There's a somber mood, a feeling of decay and destruction throughout. And, of course there's a mystery, and lots of suspense, as the reader is swept into a story of intrigue, betrayal and constantly changing alliances.
The form is interesting too as it's narrated by a British policeman. He has some interesting philosophical discussions with the lead character, a fellow Brit named Rollo Martins who has been summoned to Vienna by a long-time friend, Harry Limes, only to find a funeral in progress for Limes when he arrives. The mystery deepens as he sets upon doing his own form of detective work. The writing is stark, with excellent dialog and the cast of characters is somewhat confusing at first. As we learn more and more, the book picks up speed and we're hurtled into the conclusion that, while it is satisfactory, never really answers all of the questions raised. With just a few words though, it made me look at some deeper issues than the plot, such as the moral conscience of the characters as well as the particular time period in which they lived. And if there are no easy answers? Well, that's the way life is.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By "scottish_lawyer" on November 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
Greene's novella of The Third Man reminds me a lot of Whit Masterton's Badge of Evil (adapted by Orson Welles for Touch of Evil). It is a pacy story, exciting, with enough to keep a reader's interest, but when contrasted with the film that followed it does not bear comparison.
This is simply a film treatment. It was a novella written by Greene to provide a plot, and characters for an original screenplay director Carol Reed wished him to write (following an earlier successful collaboration). It was never intended to be a stand alone novel. And in a fascinating introduction Greene advises the reader of the changes forced on the original screenplay in the collaboration.
In the novel the story is narrated by Major Calloway, and is reliant on other's recollections of events (notably the writer Rollo Martins). The central character (Joseph Cotten in the film) is Rollo, not Holly Martins. Rollo being an English writer of Westerns under the pen name Buck Dexter. This leads to a "comic" misunderstanding where Martins is mistaken for a great English Man of Letters, B Dexter. Never convincing the change to an American lead ejects this from the film, and allows the comedy of the literary meeting to arise from Martins championing by Calloway's sergeant in the film.
The change to an American lead in the film, and therefore the change in nationality of Harry Lime (originally to have been played by Noel Coward, but thankfully played by Orson Welles in the film) meant that an anicllary character (Cooler) became Romanian in the final film - in order to avoid upsetting American filmgoers.
Aside from the changes to character, there are one or two alterations to plot (particularly in relation to Anna).
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Orrin C. Judd VINE VOICE on October 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
In post-WWII Vienna nothing is what it seems. Western pulp fiction writer Buck Dexter is actually British hack writer Rollo Martins. He's come to visit his schoolboy chum Harry Lime, but arrives just in time for Harry's funeral. The gentleman who catches a ride back from the services with Martins, is really a British policeman; turns out, old pal Harry was a black marketeer, selling doctored penicillin that is responsible for numerous deaths. Harry's grieving girlfriend is a Russian refuge staying in Vienna on forged documents. The local Cultural organization that keeps pestering Martins to speak to them mistakenly believes that he is the critically acclaimed writer, Benjamin Dexter. But the thing that is most misleading turns out to be the "death" of Harry Lime, as Martins discovers when he starts trying to find the rumored third man who witnessed Harry's death.
When Graham Greene was asked to come up with a script for Carol Reed to film, he saw an opportunity to flesh out the bare bones of an idea--suppose someone saw an old friend, supposedly dead, on the street one day. Of course, Greene & Reed & Orson Welles turned this idea into the great movie The Third Man (1949). For the novel, Greene returned to the scenario and rendered the whole story as he originally envisioned it. Most of the changes are fairly minor--freed of the presence of Joseph Cotten, Martins is English not American--but sadly missing is the famous line from the movie, which Welles apparently wrote himself, about Italy under the amoral Borgias producing magnificent culture while Switzerland's hundreds of years of democracy has produced only chocolates and the cuckoo clock.
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