The Third Man is a movie set in post-World War II Vienna and stars Joseph Cotten as American author Holly Martins who specializes in writing cheap western novels that have a decent audience in the United States but his books are very popular in Europe. Martins is offered a job in Vienna by his friend Harry Lime so Martins decides to go to the war torn city and seek out his friend and his new job. Vienna was controlled by the Allies in post-war Europe and Martins soon found himself involved in a murder mystery in the British sector. In a complicated tale of lies and murder Martins arrives in Vienna to find out that his friend Lime, played by Orson Welles, is supposed to be dead after being hit by a truck in front of his apartment building in front of a lot of witnesses. As the movie moves along we meet many shady characters and find out that Martins’ friend Lime was involved in a lot of illegal and dangerous activities and he was being pursued by the British police in the British sector of Vienna. Martins attempts to become involved with Lime’s girlfriend but she is not interested and later we find out that things may not be as they appear to be and that Lime may not be as dead as the reports said he was.
The Third Man is an Oscar winning movie that was a huge box office success. It was voted the best British movie ever made and also made the list of the top 100 American movies ever made. Director Carol Reed became obsessed with The Third Man and found himself working 20 hour days directing all aspects of the movie and refusing to delegate any part of the movie to any other director. The production team of Selznick and Korda never worked together again and Orson Welles was left wishing he had taken the percentage of the movie that he was offered because it turned out to be an incredible box office success even in its re-release in 1999. Such was the chaos of The Third Man.