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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

on 26 February 2015
Greene actually states that "The Third Man" was never intended to be read; it was written as a screenplay for the film and a basis on which to discuss how the plot should, or would, unfold. Despite this, it is a good read. Much of the story remains the same with only small differences here and there so we find ourselves on very familiar ground. Already, at the start, we have that sense of deja vu and yet, because it IS Greene, after all, the story maintains its hold on you and keeps you interested throughout. It is well written and you can see how strongly it influenced so much of the quick-moving atmosphere in the film. You can also see how the changes they made really were for the better but it is also very easy to note what is not there; the sounds of running in the empty square, or the hollow noises of the sewers and the roar of the water. It really is a sketch, not a full-blown work.
The short story, "The Fallen Idol", accompanied "The Third Man". This is Greene at his very best; rich language, superb attention to detail, a flowing story seen through the eyes of an interested observer. The story, of a small boy left in the care of the butler and his wife while his parents go off on holiday (with tragic results), is quite simple but enriched by the fact that we see it partly through the eyes of the child. The language Greene uses is by no means childlike. For anyone who has pretensions of becoming a writer - start here.
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on 31 January 2018
In post-war Vienna, Graham Greene's struggling novelist Rollo Martins, arrives to visit old friend Harry Lime. But something has happened to Harry, and Martins is soon drawn into a web of intrigue and drug-dealing as he tries to uncover the truth.

The Fallen Idol is the tale of a boy left in the care of Baines the butler and his mean-spirited wife, while the lad’s parents are off on holiday. But finding himself captivated by the servant's talk of exotic places, the boy is forced into making a difficult decision when he becomes an unwilling witness to a tragedy.

The Third Man was never intended to be published, and was originally written as the basis for the movie Carol Reed wanted to make. Apart from a handful of subtle differences, the story is very similar to the film and it’s easy to see why Greene accepted the few changes Reed insisted upon in the finished movie. As a narrative, it is nevertheless a fascinating example of Greene’s clever use of language, though I was more impressed with the quality of the writing in the short story The Fallen Idol, which, conversely, the author claimed he had always thought impossible to recreate as a movie. Written as The Basement Room, the story builds tension in an understated but intelligent manner as the boy hero becomes entangled in the stories spun by his butler.

Of the two tales, The Fallen Idol is by far the more interesting in its use of language, imagery and joint themes of betrayal and loss of innocence. Essential reading for fans of one of Britain’s finest writers.
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on 13 November 2012
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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on 21 December 2016
the book was written after the film - which is my preferred medium for this excellent story.the book struggles to capture the etherial nature of Post war Vienna that the film does so well.
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on 31 May 2017
A great book from one of our great authors. War torn Vienna is so well portrayed. Once you've read the book watch the Orson Wells Film.....MAGIC.
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on 30 October 2014
I think The Third Man film to be one of the finest British films ever made and I have enjoyed the story, acting and particularly the photography. The lighting of some the scenes is exceptional. To read the book and see how the film related to it gave more knowledge and I grateful for that. I just need to see the museum In Vienna ( Wien) to satisfy my interest in this film. I was in Vienna this year but the museum is only open on one day and I went on the wrong day.
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on 11 June 2016
My local library says Graham Greene is no longer read, so bought this. Very short...written just as a vehicle to develop characters before going on the write the screenplay for the film.
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on 4 December 2017
Quaint, but interesting. Well enough written.
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on 22 August 2017
Nice paperback edition with very interesting background on the writing of the book and subsquent screenplay.
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on 12 September 2017
Somewhat light reading; not the well crafted literature I was hoping for as I think it was translated from the screenplay? Good story though.
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