Friday, February 4, 2011

One of the best: Third Man -The Lives of Harry Lime

From the film, The Third Man
If you were to take a poll of die-hard film fans and movie critics and ask them which is the best foreign film ever, there's a good chance The Third Man would be in the top five, if not number one.  The Third Man may also be the best post-war film ever made in Europe as well.

The radio series, Third Man: The Lives of Harry Lime is based on the film.  In the movie, Harry Lime was played by the too-incredible-for-words Orson Welles.  Lime is an unscrupulous two-faced character, an outlaw of very questionable ethics (stealing medicine, selling it and replacing it with cheaper medicine) that somehow remains (even shines as) a likable person.

How can this be?  It happens that Welles is like King Midas on the screen or on the radio. And The Lives of Harry Lime is no different.  Although instead of penicillin, Lime is stealing paintings and jewelry and taking it from little old ladies (actually greedy spies) and people who can barely speak English (but always far greedier than he.)

From Kuwait to South Africa and every corner of the globe, Lime was a double-dealing butterfly.  And even when he gets caught red-handed, somehow he usually manages not only come out with no jail time but manages to steal some bounty as well.  We're talking large sums of money ($100,000 or a quarter of a million.) 

And the radio show, like the movie, features the memorable zither music of Anton Karas:

It doesn't at all hurt the series that Welles wrote many of the episodes - how many, we don't know but it does appear that he wrote at least five of them.

Not all of the shows have perfect sound but the shows are so good you tend to forget about that. I would give this show at least 4 and a half stars.


  1. I have tried to listen to the Third Man a number of times and have trouble either with the audio, accents and Welles put me to sleep mode, thus did not hear it. I know lots of people like it, but, I am a minority (also my wife) do not listen to it any more. Thus, not in my cue. That does not make it a bad show, just not to us.

  2. I'll be honest with you. It took me a year of TRYING to finally like this show. I have no idea why - because it really is a very good show.

    Some shows (Halls of Ivy,etc.) are worthy of a second and even a third chance. This show is defintely one of those worth trying again.


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