After the Second World War, unemployed pulp fiction writer Holly Martins arrives in Vienna to meet with his old friend from school, Harry Lime, who has offered him a job.
Upon arrival, he learns that Harry has just died, hit by a truck in front of his building, and he goes to his funeral. At the ceremony, Holly Martins sees a beautiful woman, Anna Schmidt, and a friend of Harry and sooner he learns that Anna was Harry's lover.
Maj. Calloway, who is commanding the investigation, offers the ticket to Holly return home, but while waiting for the trip, he talks to two friends of Harry that say that they had been the first people at the scene to help his friend. However, the porter of Harry's building reports that there was a mysterious third man that helped Harry and Holly.
Martins becomes intrigued with the inconsistency and decides to investigate further. His incisive investigations reveal that Harry Lime was the leader of a gang that robbed penicillin from the military hospital to adulterate and resell it, and has caused the death and anomalies in many children. Can he succeed in unravelling who the third man is? How will the future unfold for Martins and Anna?
Did you know?
When the film was initially distributed in America, David O. Selznick replaced the narration at the beginning (a necessity to explain the very unusual status of Vienna in the aftermath of World War II, when the film was set), originally done by Carol Reed himself, with a narration read by Joseph Cotten, in character as Holly Martins. Nearly eleven minutes of film was cut out in Selznick's version, including all references in the original cut to Cotten's Holly Martins being an implied alcoholic and anything else that portrayed him as a less than heroic figure. Read More