Tag: Orson Welles

The Third Man by Graham Greene

Posted August 29, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Classic, Thriller / 0 Comments

The Third Man by Graham GreeneTitle: The Third Man (Goodreads)
Author: Graham Greene
Narrator: Martin Jarvis
Published: Penguin, 1943
Pages: 180
Genres: Classic, Thriller
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

American western writer Rollo Martins arrives in Post-World War II Vienna at the request of his childhood friend, Harry Lime. Lime has a job for him but when Martins arrives, he soon finds out that his friend has died. Convinced that Harry Lime’s death was no accident, Martins starts his own investigation, which leads him on a hunt to find the other witness, The Third Man.

If you are a loyal listener of The Readers or follow Simon Savidge’s blog or twitter you may know he recently lost his grandmother. To pay tribute to the memory of Dorothy Savidge he has asked people to read something by Graham Greene, as he was her favourite author. Greene for Gran (or on twitter #GreeneForGran) was born and I took this as an opportunity to try my first Graham Greene book, as well as join in this beautiful memorial to a fellow book lover.

Now The Third Man is an interesting book; it is actually written in preparation to writing the screenplay to what will become a film noir classic. Graham Greene wrote this novella and then converted it into the screenplay. I’m not sure how or why the original novella ended up being published but I suspect that the huge success of the movie may have had something to do with it. So when reading The Third Man you are basically reading the novelisation of the movie; everything is exactly the same.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, the movie was fantastic but then again I’m a fan of Orson Welles (Citizen Kane is the greatest movie of all time) so I might be biased. Who am I kidding, it’s not bias; The Third Man is a classic film noir movie and if you haven’t seen it then you are missing out. It’s hard to review a novella that is exactly the same as the movie, there may not be any point to reading the book if you can watch the movie but I wanted to see how Graham Greene wrote and I think I’m a fan.

What I found fascinating about the novella was the fact that the entire story is told from the perspective of Major Calloway and not the Rollo Martins. Just a quick side note here Rollo Martins name was changed to Holly Martins in the movie just in case you thought I made a mistake there. So I look back at the movie and try to imagine The Third Man from the perspective of Calloway and it just doesn’t seem right, but it works really well for the book. Just another example of what a novel can do that film can’t and gives the novella something unique that you wouldn’t get from the movie.

This only took me about an hour to read (I read slow) and while it is pretty much the exact same thing as the movie, I’m glad I read it. It gave me a sense of Graham Greene’s style and I know what to expect when I try another book (any suggestions). I loved the movie and I think the book is a great companion for fans of The Third Man. Now I want to rewatch the movie, sounds like a good idea right?