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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two dark, ironic stories which lead to early noir films.
The Third Man, written originally as the outline for the screenplay of Carol Reed's famous 1949 film of the same name, is set in occupied Vienna just after World War II. The sectors established by the conquering British, Americans, French, and Russians contribute to an atmosphere of tension and mystery, and an almost palpable aura of menace as residents and visitors alike...
Published on 24 Jun 2005 by Mary Whipple

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12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Classic espionage
Mr Graham Greene’s short novel is set in Vienna just before the end of the Second World War. The city is described as “smashed and dreary” and when the action starts, Vienna is still divided up in zones among the Four Powers: the Russian, the British, the American and the French zones. Rollo Martins’ line is the writing of cheap paperback Westerns...
Published on 24 Mar 2004 by HORAK


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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two dark, ironic stories which lead to early noir films., 24 Jun 2005
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
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The Third Man, written originally as the outline for the screenplay of Carol Reed's famous 1949 film of the same name, is set in occupied Vienna just after World War II. The sectors established by the conquering British, Americans, French, and Russians contribute to an atmosphere of tension and mystery, and an almost palpable aura of menace as residents and visitors alike must deal with four different governments, four sets of officials, and four collections of laws as they move throughout the city.
Rollo Martins, an author of cowboy novels, arrives in Vienna to visit an old school friend, Harry Lime, only to find that he has arrived on the day of Lime's funeral. Investigating Lime's death, Martins learns that a neighbor saw the traffic accident that killed Lime and observed three men carrying Lime's body from the scene. Only two of those men have been identified--the third man has vanished.
As Martins investigates Lime's death, the novel is by turns exciting and darkly humorous, intensely visual in its descriptions and action, but lacking the characterization and thematic focus which one associates with most of Greene's work. The novella is full of wit and dark theatrics, and includes everything from a chase through the sewers to a love story.
The Fallen Idol, sometimes known as "The Basement Room," is, by contrast, a psychological, rather than plot-based story. Nine-year-old Philip, who idolizes the family's butler Baines, since his parents pay little attention to him, is left with Baines and his wife while the parents go on vacation. Baines is having an affair, and Philip innocently discloses this to his wife.
The resulting confrontation results in an accident in which the wife ends up dead, and Philip, panicked, runs out, only to be picked up by a policeman, to whom another naive remark conveys the idea that Baines has murdered her. Irony and a delightfully drawn child's point of view (unusual for Greene) make The Fallen Idol one of Greene's more interesting and twisted stories.
Both The Third Man and The Fallen Idol led to film collaborations between Greene and director Carol Reed--The Fallen Idol in 1948, and Reed's more famous film of The Third Man in 1949. Dark humor, elaborate ironies, and surprising twists characterize both stories and show Greene to be a master manipulator of perceptions. Mary Whipple
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A screenplay with no apologies, 30 Jun 2009
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Officer Dibble (Zummerzet) - See all my reviews
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As Mr Greene said this was 'never written to be read but only to be seen' so for once no one has to apologise about having seen the classic film first!
Inevitably, the book is virtually a screenplay and other reviewers have covered the story excellently.

For interest, Martins and Lime are English in the book, Martins pretty much 'executes' Lime in the sewer and he also get's the girl. I also assume that Lime was the 'Third Man' at the scene of his own mock accidental death - unless someone knows differently.

When younger I always thought the sewer scene and the music were most memorable but on reading the novel the significance of Lime's prescient speech on the Ferris Wheel comes to the fore.

Only 98 pages, and hence sold with 'The Fallen Idol', the Third Man is a stunning, short, sharp, smack in the face of a read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Read, 29 Mar 2013
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But not really classic Greene in my view. As explained in the preface this was written as a screenplay rather than starting life as a novel in its own right. Of course the Orson Wells film IS a classic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I never knew Vienna before the war, 13 Nov 2012
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Mr. P. G. Chesters (London) - See all my reviews
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Its strange that Vienna doesn't seem to come across the British tourist radar - I don't actually know anybody personally who has been to Vienna, even if they have been all around the world. I was lucky enough to have a job there for a year, and see it through its four seasons, and I think it's the most delightful place that I know. There are still visible traces from the war with the giant flak towers still looming over Vienna.

Obviously how you see Vienna depends on whether or not you have seen the film, whether passing the Sacher hotel reminds you of the Officers billeted there, and passing the cemetery on the tram reminds you of Harry Limes's's funeral.

I think the book does give the atmosphere and I think is a good read on the plane over there, whether you have seen the film or not, and maybe will encourage you to visit if you had not thought of it before.

The introduction by Ian Thompson is interesting as well
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4.0 out of 5 stars Reading the Thrid man in Vienna, 9 April 2012
I just bought this book while in a short stay in Vienna. It was very funny to buy it in a bookshop in Kartner Strasse and later, following the book visit the close by Sacher (plenty of sweet turist, though), the Prater and other locations cited or described in the book. The atmostphere now is quite different from the described in the book, but one only must get away from the city center, or visit some post-war memorials to see more resemblances with the ambient described in the book.

This is a book I enjoy a lot, thought it's very dificult to read it with an imagination as free as with other books, because the images and sounds from the film came continuosly over me.

The only little flaw it has, for my taste, anyway, are some details of the style, as when the narrator writes directly to the reader commenting one situation of the story. For all the rest a wonderful short story (well, two really, including The Fallen Idol)
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12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Classic espionage, 24 Mar 2004
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HORAK (Zug, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
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Mr Graham Greene’s short novel is set in Vienna just before the end of the Second World War. The city is described as “smashed and dreary” and when the action starts, Vienna is still divided up in zones among the Four Powers: the Russian, the British, the American and the French zones. Rollo Martins’ line is the writing of cheap paperback Westerns under the penname of Buck Dexter. Martins received an invitation from Harry Lime of the International Refugee Office to join him in Vienna. When Martins arrives at the Hotel Asoria, there is no Lime expecting him, but only a cryptic message for Mr Dexter from a man called Crabbin. Martins then decides to look for Lime’s apartment, but once he arrives there, a neighbour, a Herr Kurz, informs him that Harry Lime is dead after having been run over by a car. The burial is to take place the same afternoon at Vienna’s Central Cemetery. Martins goes to the ceremony and immediately after that, he is accosted by a man called Calloway, a policeman from Scotland Yard, who asks him if he knew Harry Lime.
This is the beginning of Graham Greene’s classic espionage thriller, very well constructed with wonderfully drawn characters and a suspenseful plot.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection in a story, 6 Dec 2008
By 
Martin Turner "Martin Turner" (Marlcliff, Warwickshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Third Man and The Fallen Idol (Mass Market Paperback)
I don't like Graham Greene. All that Catholic guilt makes me depressed when I read most of his books. But no-one can deny that he is probably the greatest story-teller of the 20th century. His sense of timing, dialogue, incident (and accident), and his sure-handed deftness combine to turn what might have been an ordinary tale about a ruse that didn't work out into a piece of art.

Greene defines this iconic novel -- written as the basis for the film of the same name -- in its title. He doesn't give anything away, but he focuses our attention from the very first on the key point, rounding out the story perfectly.

For the rest, everything you could wish for is here, and, mercifully, for once, there's only one guilt-ridden line: "You used to be a Catholic..." In just over 100 pages, Greene even manages to include a superb section of comic relief, with the hapless Crabbin trying to set up literary dates for entirely the wrong author.

Superb.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Graham Greene - need I say more?, 5 Mar 2014
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Evidently yes!! The Third Man, one of my all-time favourite films with some great sequences shot in post-war Vienna. And of course, the unforgettable theme...
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not As Good As the Film?!, 4 Sep 2010
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Harry the book monkey (Citizen of the world) - See all my reviews
According to Graham Greene himself in the preface to the Third Man he needed to write a story before he was able to produce a screenplay. As such, both stories in this volume are stepping stones to producing the finished product. This does not make them second rate, both stories are very enjoyable and make nice little reads in themselves. It might be fun to enjoy the read and then to watch the film and enjoy all the changes that occur between the short story and the finished film. I found myself in unusual position of saying that the film is better than the book (but only just).
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite gripping short story, but lacks impact of the film, 19 Mar 2010
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John Hopper (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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A gripping story which was actually written purely so that the author could then write the film screenplay from it, so this is in effect a first draft of the film script. The additional tale The Fallen Idol is tedious, though I can understand the author's intention in trying to present an affair and a killing from a youg child's point of view.
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The Third Man and The Fallen Idol
The Third Man and The Fallen Idol by Graham Greene (Mass Market Paperback - 24 Jun 1971)
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