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WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY IAN THOMPSON The Third Man is Graham Greene's brilliant recreation of post-war Vienna, a 'smashed dreary city' occupied by the four Allied powers. Rollo Martins, a second-rate novelist, arrives penniless to visit his friend and hero, Harry Lime. But Harry has died in suspicious circumstances, and the police are closing in on his associates... The Fall WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY IAN THOMPSON The Third Man is Graham Greene's brilliant recreation of post-war Vienna, a 'smashed dreary city' occupied by the four Allied powers. Rollo Martins, a second-rate novelist, arrives penniless to visit his friend and hero, Harry Lime. But Harry has died in suspicious circumstances, and the police are closing in on his associates... The Fallen Idol is the chilling story of a small boy caught up in the games that adults play. Left in the care of the butler and his wife whilst his parents go on a fortnight's holiday, Philip realises too late the danger of lies and deceit. But the truth is even deadlier.


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WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY IAN THOMPSON The Third Man is Graham Greene's brilliant recreation of post-war Vienna, a 'smashed dreary city' occupied by the four Allied powers. Rollo Martins, a second-rate novelist, arrives penniless to visit his friend and hero, Harry Lime. But Harry has died in suspicious circumstances, and the police are closing in on his associates... The Fall WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY IAN THOMPSON The Third Man is Graham Greene's brilliant recreation of post-war Vienna, a 'smashed dreary city' occupied by the four Allied powers. Rollo Martins, a second-rate novelist, arrives penniless to visit his friend and hero, Harry Lime. But Harry has died in suspicious circumstances, and the police are closing in on his associates... The Fallen Idol is the chilling story of a small boy caught up in the games that adults play. Left in the care of the butler and his wife whilst his parents go on a fortnight's holiday, Philip realises too late the danger of lies and deceit. But the truth is even deadlier.

30 review for The Third Man and the Fallen Idol (Vintage Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Supratim

    The Vintage Classics features the two brilliant stories! The edition I read had an introduction by Ian Thompson. This introduction is insightful but it revealed the plot and climax of both the stories as did the respective prefaces by the author, so I strongly suggest that you come back to these after reading the stories. The Third Man The Third Man was not supposed to be published as a book; Greene wanted to write a screenplay for a movie. The author wrote the story to create characterization, The Vintage Classics features the two brilliant stories! The edition I read had an introduction by Ian Thompson. This introduction is insightful but it revealed the plot and climax of both the stories as did the respective prefaces by the author, so I strongly suggest that you come back to these after reading the stories. The Third Man The Third Man was not supposed to be published as a book; Greene wanted to write a screenplay for a movie. The author wrote the story to create characterization, mood and atmosphere before he got to the screenplay. In the preface Greene mentions that the movie is actually better than the story. The story is narrated by Col. Calloway of the British security police posted in Vienna. He is a pretty decent man. Rollo Martins – writer of cheap westerns, almost a pauper, a harmless drunk with some women problems but overall a good man arrives at post WWII Vienna on the invitation of his childhood hero and friend Harry Lime. Greene’s depiction of Vienna – dreary, destroyed and as an occupied territory is indeed praiseworthy and the author’s skill in using the elements of weather to convey meaning is also wonderful. Needless to say, the writing is excellent and the characterization is brilliant. I liked the way the character of Martins is influenced by Rollo and Martins. Rollo Martins arrives at Vienna to find that his hero, Harry has died in an accident and also learns that he might have been involved in some racketeering. Determined to know what had happened to his friend, Martins continues to investigate Harry’s death and as expected people die such that certain secrets are not revealed. Human beings can do anything to further their vested interests. Do we really know a person whom we regard as our friend! Conflict between justice & morality on one hand and friendship on the other is brilliantly portrayed. Like most of his novels, the author’s Catholic belief also makes an appearance in the story. The suspense would keep you turning the pages, some of the dialogues would strike a chord and the climax, in my humble opinion the most satisfying. The mood of the novel is dark and dreary, but a case of mistaken identity would provide some light-hearted moments as well. I would recommend this story to lovers of mystery and suspense. The story appears in both the lists of top 100 crime novels published by the British-based Crime Writers' Association and the Mystery Writers of America in the nineteen nineties. The lists can be found here - Link The Fallen Idol It is s short and dark story about the destruction of a child’s innocence. The traumatic events would keep haunting him years later until his very last breath. Master Phillips is a little boy who has been left in the care of the family butler Mr. Baines and his wife, while his parents are out enjoying a vacation. Mr. Baines is a decent man, he is kind to Phillips and is in turn loved by the child. Mrs. Baines is a different person altogether – sour and unpleasant, domineering and yet servile when she wants to be. Poor Phillips gets caught up in the world of adults where lies and deception are normal. Certain events terrify Phillips and he desperately wants to withdraw from the world of adults. His predicament – running away from home, crying on the roads, his desperate desire to be rescued by the police and his insistence that a “male” constable should escort him home as his child’s mind believed that only a policeman could “impress” the formidable Mrs. Baines – would strike a chord. Even in such a dreary setting, Greene’s description of a policeman is sort of humorous – not the laugh out loud type but somewhat subtle, and it bears testimony to the author’s wit. I won’t elaborate more as I don’t want to give away the plot. I don’t know if my review has done justice to this brilliant story, but if you like chilling stories then please give it a reading.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Megan Baxter

    This is a slim little book, but the two stories in it pack quite a wallop. One, is, of course, the more famous, the basis for The Third Man movie. The other was also made into a movie, but is not as well known. Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here. In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook This is a slim little book, but the two stories in it pack quite a wallop. One, is, of course, the more famous, the basis for The Third Man movie. The other was also made into a movie, but is not as well known. Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here. In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook

  3. 4 out of 5

    Martine

    Carol Reed's The Third Man ranks among my favourite noir films. To a large extent, this is because of its stunningly atmospheric black-and-white cinematography (I just love those ruins and shadows...), but it's also because there's something quite compelling about the story about a Brit who is invited to post-war Vienna by a friend, only to discover that said friend is dead and may have been involved in a rather nasty racket. That story was written by Graham Greene, and was published by Penguin Carol Reed's The Third Man ranks among my favourite noir films. To a large extent, this is because of its stunningly atmospheric black-and-white cinematography (I just love those ruins and shadows...), but it's also because there's something quite compelling about the story about a Brit who is invited to post-war Vienna by a friend, only to discover that said friend is dead and may have been involved in a rather nasty racket. That story was written by Graham Greene, and was published by Penguin along with another Greene story adapted for the screen by Reed, 'The Fallen Idol'. The Third Man is unlike other Greene books. As Greene himself points out in the preface, 'it was never written to be read but only to be seen'. In other words, while it's not exactly a film script, The Third Man was written to be turned into one, and it shows. By Greene's standards, the story is light on characterisation and heavy on descriptions of actions and situations. This is bad news for those of us who like Greene precisely for his characterisation, but it's not necessarily a bad thing per se, as for one thing, what little characterisation there is is solid and original (I love Rollo Martins' semi-split personality) and for another, both the plot and the atmosphere are great. Post-war Vienna (carved up into four spheres of influence by the Americans, British, French and Russians) makes for a wonderfully tense setting, and involuntary detective Rollo Martins' journey from indignation to disbelief to disillusionment to acceptance makes for compulsive reading, featuring as it does dramatic plot twists, some dark humour and a healthy dose of cynicism. In short, it's a fairly strong novella, even if it doesn't match up with Greene's longer works. Even so, I'm going to defer to the author's own assessment, which is that the film is better than the story (and not just because the story lacks the famous cuckoo clock line, which was written by Orson Welles). It's simply because the film (on which Greene closely collaborated with Reed) is, as Greene points out in his preface, 'in this case the finished state of the story', whereas the book version is merely an earlier draft -- a solid draft, but an unfinished one nonetheless. As for the second, much shorter story in the book, 'The Fallen Idol', this is a tragedy about an innocent child who gets caught up in the nasty games adults play and ends up accidentally handing his best friend over to the police. As an exploration of the innocence-versus-guilt theme, it's rather interesting, especially since it is (unusually for Greene) told from the child's point of view. Due to the childish perspective, Greene doesn't get to indulge in his trademark cynicism (which is what I love best about him), but still, it's a well-told, well-observed story with great characters, some menace, several 'Oh, no!' moments and an abrupt but effective ending. It's not brilliant, but it's decent story-telling -- more proof (if any were needed) that Greene didn't need many words to tell a powerful story. All in all, I'd say this is a solid 3.5-star book. Since it's closer to four stars than to three, I'll be generous and give it four.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    both stories are excellent and I loved them both. Graham Greene is a master storyteller, and is a genius at characterization - and from what I can see, much more about people than plot. It is just a crying shame that he's not as widely read as he should be. I'll be linking this post directly to my reading journal, since I wrote about this book and The Ministry of Fear together. So read on: http://www.crimesegments.com/2017/03/... both stories are excellent and I loved them both. Graham Greene is a master storyteller, and is a genius at characterization - and from what I can see, much more about people than plot. It is just a crying shame that he's not as widely read as he should be. I'll be linking this post directly to my reading journal, since I wrote about this book and The Ministry of Fear together. So read on: http://www.crimesegments.com/2017/03/...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jonfaith

    It is no surprise that The Third Man as a novel remains inchoate. It is a signpost, a germinating seed carelessly pitched in frustrated haste. Where does it lead, what will grow? The film’s images travel in any reader’s bloodstream. Cotten, Howard and Welles occupy the dialogue. Greene’s descriptions are wan and undeveloped. What then can possibly pierce a contemporary reader? The crux of The Third Man is the death of loyalty. Reason and Ideology may trade blows in a makeshift ring, governed in It is no surprise that The Third Man as a novel remains inchoate. It is a signpost, a germinating seed carelessly pitched in frustrated haste. Where does it lead, what will grow? The film’s images travel in any reader’s bloodstream. Cotten, Howard and Welles occupy the dialogue. Greene’s descriptions are wan and undeveloped. What then can possibly pierce a contemporary reader? The crux of The Third Man is the death of loyalty. Reason and Ideology may trade blows in a makeshift ring, governed in an incomprehensible language, what matters is friendship, right? Even loyalties forged over a lifetime become suspect in the murky reality of postwar Vienna.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Smiley

    The first novella "The Third Man" originally meant to be seen rather than to be read was the 1949 British film while the second one "The Fallen Idol" first published as 'The Basement Room' in 1935, according to the author, was not intended to be the 1948 one (p. 101) and both directed by Carol Reed. I read them because its two-in-one copy was timely available; however, I found reading each a bit tough so, I think, we should read their synopses from Wikipedia, an introduction by Ian Thomson and t The first novella "The Third Man" originally meant to be seen rather than to be read was the 1949 British film while the second one "The Fallen Idol" first published as 'The Basement Room' in 1935, according to the author, was not intended to be the 1948 one (p. 101) and both directed by Carol Reed. I read them because its two-in-one copy was timely available; however, I found reading each a bit tough so, I think, we should read their synopses from Wikipedia, an introduction by Ian Thomson and the prefaces for some updated backgrounds. Reading Graham Greene essentially needs such information, therefore, we can find ourselves busy reading his works with arguable enjoyment and understanding. Once in a while, we might have heard/read on a saying warning us not to judge a book by its cover. I think this could apply to these two titles, in other words, do not judge them by its lengths or be not complacent when you find these two novellas anywhere since their dimensions are something in disguise. As we can see from my brief survey: "The Third Man" a 17-chapter novella in its own right has 92 pages whereas "The Fallen Idol" a mini 5-chapter one has merely 28 pages. Which one seems easier to read? In contrast, I've found reading "The Third Man" more enjoyable, more in-depth and more gripping in terms of its plot, characters and climax than "The Fallen Idol". A few of the reasons would be in terms of the different scenarios in that the first deals with a sort of illicit trade and betrayal amid the World War II aftermath in Vienna while the second explores human relationships between adults and youngsters, as we can see more details narrated in the first to the extent of powerful figurative narrative in which we could read and enjoy to follow the narration while the second written with relatively less powerful one. For instance, as focused on the physical setting description, the passages in questions are as follows: Even this cemetery was zoned between the Powers: the Russian zone was marked by huge tasteless statues of armed men, the French by rows of anonymous wooden crosses and a torn tired tricolour flag. Then Martins remembered that Lime was a Catholic and was unlikely to be buried in the British zone for which they had been vainly searching. So back they drove through the heart of a forest where the graves lay like wolves under the trees, winking white eyes under the gloom of the evergreens. ... (p. 12) As compared to this extract: Through the drawing-room doorway on the first floor he saw the draped chairs; even the china clock on the mantel was covered like a canary's cage; ... On the nursery table he found his supper laid out: a glass of milk and a piece of bread and butter, a sweet biscuit, and a little old Queen's pudding without the meringue. He had no appetite; he strained his ears for Mrs Baines's coming, for the sound of voice, but the basement held its secrets; the green baize door shut off that world. ... (p. 112) Alliteratively speaking, the first boldly keeps us alert with 'a torn tired tricolour flag,' 'winking white eyes' whereas the second with 'drawing-room doorway,' 'the first floor,' 'a canary's cage' and 'bread and butter'. I mean the repetition of consonants at the beginning of two or more words immediately succeeding each other; therefore, I've found the first narrating 'a torn tired tricolour flag' (without commas!) more pleasing, more figurative and more appreciative to read than 'drawing-room doorway' and the others. Incidentally, such a tricolour flag denoting a French one reminds me of our Thai ones called ธงไตรรงค์ symbolizing our country since 1917 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of... as for the two-syllable Thai word ไตรรงค์, ไตร literally equals tri and รงค์ means colour. Then the word 'tired' modifying 'flag', as if it were a person, suggests the flag's flabbiness due to its excessive duty, that is, it is so exhausted that it won't flow proudly and honourably in the wind any longer. Finally, the word 'torn' again modifying 'flag' obviously evidences its tough, ungrateful mission till it is torn due to the wind and its durability limit or due to its undue neglect and lax administration. Therefore, its overall meaning infers seemingly contemptuous dignity regarding its pride and honour.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dillwynia Peter

    The Third Man & The Fallen Idol (formerly The Basement Room) share in common theme - being the basis for films directed by Carol Reed. Greene had to write a "story" before he wrote a script & this is the case of The Third Man. It was never meant to be published; therefore, there are interesting differences by the time the film was made. Our lead changes from English to American, the love interest from bland to beautiful and the end is much more dramatic and black under Reed's minor change (also The Third Man & The Fallen Idol (formerly The Basement Room) share in common theme - being the basis for films directed by Carol Reed. Greene had to write a "story" before he wrote a script & this is the case of The Third Man. It was never meant to be published; therefore, there are interesting differences by the time the film was made. Our lead changes from English to American, the love interest from bland to beautiful and the end is much more dramatic and black under Reed's minor change (also more realistic, considering the events of the film). Carol Reed was an important film director & sadly is now very much forgotten except by English Noir Film buffs. Much is made that this is Orson Welles' film, but that is nonsense, the film is Reed's. The famous Harry Lime theme was discovered by Reed during his visit with Greene to Vienna when developing the plot. And regardless how Welles could act, if Reed was a poor director, this film would never have gotten the recognition it has. Reed was of theatre nobility - his father was the famous Victorian actor & director Herbert Tree (as mentioned in Eliot's Old Possum Book of Cats - "He acted with Irving, he has acted with Tree") and his nephew was Oliver Reed. The story reflects an ugly time in modern Europe. Vienna, a dead city in a dead country, with the victors still growling & picking over the spoils. It is hard to imagine the Vienna now being a one where everyone racketeers just to survive; where everyone lives in fear of their past, and depending on the occupied zone they live in, their future. Greene could always describe this type of situation perfectly & the story is fast paced and natural and ugly. The Fallen Idol (a title I do prefer) was written in the steamer on Greene's return from Liberia in the mid 30s. As both Reed & Greene recognised, the world of a wealthy London family with servants had disappeared after the War, so they moved the scene to an Embassy. It still works. This is very much in the ilk of James' What Maise Knew, and again explores the innocence of childhood and the impacts the adult world can have on said innocence. Philip is given adult secrets. At 1st they appear to be golden globes, but they actually are tawdry baubbles & he says clearly towards the end of the story: I don't want your secrets! He desperately wants to retain his childhood, but sadly, events now have changed that forever. There is even a chance that in later life Philip will be a slightly damaged adult. You feel nothing but compassion for Philip & his loss of childlike innocence. The title "Fallen Idol" is actually appropriate to both stories. In each case, a hero is shown to be of clay feet, and in fact, once the glow is scrapped away, to actually be not very nice people at all. Both hero men are loved and worshiped and ultimately they both prey, exploit, and destroy this love. This love is innocent and deep adoration - the heroes they have loved have never disappointed. Our heroes know this & exploit it. As I said, they are actually ugly people. The outcomes are the same - both main characters ultimately "destroy" their hero. Again, this is a typical Greene theme. Both novellas are tight, fast paced and full of pathos. I happily recommend them to friends for a stimulating holiday or relaxing day's read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cphe

    Much preferred The Third Man to the shorter novella The Fallen Idol but that's just reader preference. Loved the dark, seedy atmosphere of The Third Man and the setting of Vienna after the war. For such a short novella there is everything a mystery/thriller could want. Excellent plot, a hint of romance a "true" villain and wonderful characterisation. Fallen Idol had a touch of "Mrs Danvers" from Rebecca I felt. Didn't feel the story was quite long enough to bring those dark overtones to the fore Much preferred The Third Man to the shorter novella The Fallen Idol but that's just reader preference. Loved the dark, seedy atmosphere of The Third Man and the setting of Vienna after the war. For such a short novella there is everything a mystery/thriller could want. Excellent plot, a hint of romance a "true" villain and wonderful characterisation. Fallen Idol had a touch of "Mrs Danvers" from Rebecca I felt. Didn't feel the story was quite long enough to bring those dark overtones to the fore. Unfortunately there was the use of a word that makes me cringe every time I see it written. Interesting concept but fell a bit flat for this reader.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    Very atmospheric. The film was actually shot in war-torn Venice too.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    The story was written as a premise to the screenplay for the movie,and the movie came out before the book....both are excellent. See the film,and then read it.....Also enjoyed THE FALLEN IDOL. I am a Graham Greene fan!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mike Finn

    I can see now that Grahan Green was right in his original decision not to put 'The Third Man' forward for publication as a novella. My expectations going in were fairly low. I saw it as a preliminary sketch, made in isolation, in preparation for the collaborative creative effort of making what was to become a good movie. In effect, it’s a first-pass storyboard I didn't expect it to be so lifeless that I abandoned it at 35% because I was bored. The structure of the storytelling is clumsy and inef I can see now that Grahan Green was right in his original decision not to put 'The Third Man' forward for publication as a novella. My expectations going in were fairly low. I saw it as a preliminary sketch, made in isolation, in preparation for the collaborative creative effort of making what was to become a good movie. In effect, it’s a first-pass storyboard I didn't expect it to be so lifeless that I abandoned it at 35% because I was bored. The structure of the storytelling is clumsy and ineffective. Having events curated by a policeman who is reflecting on his memories and who slides back and forth on the timeline doesn't work well. It keeps you out of the heads of the main players and keeps the action as passive recollections and the emotions as chewed-over summaries. I think it was meant to add mystery and foreshadowing but, for me, it just made the story ponderous. The plot is wafer-thin. It's fairly obvious from the beginning who the third man is and what Role Martins' blind spot is. This might have been OK if I was invested in Rolo's search for the truth but he's a hard man to like. His only distinguishing features seem to be weakness and bad temper. His relationship with Lime seems to be one of suppressed homosexual attraction arising from an early, apparently abusive, relationship when he and Lime were at school together. He refers frequently to 'mixing his drinks' which seems to be a coded reference to his bisexuality. Lime, as seen from the policeman's eyes and Martins' shared memories, is a narcissist and a racketeer. Martins' is his long-time stooge. The story gives me no reason to care about Harry Lime. Martins' could have been drawn as the route-for-him-because-he's-loyal-and-grieving-for-a-friend under-dog but instead, he comes across as weak, broken men, thrashing around trying to sustain the fantasy of a relationship that he won't allow himself to see clearly. Still, I didn't set the novella aside because I didn't like the characters or the plot. I put it aside because the prose limps along and I became bored. The whole thing is only 157 pages long. I should have read it in a day. Instead, I kept putting it down and then found myself reluctant to pick it up again. My advice: skip this and watch the movie. If the movie really hooks you and you want to see what made it work, dip into this novella and see how far they came from this beginning. Here's the trailer for the movie. It's worth watching for the camera work and the music, even before you add Orson Welles. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9yyD...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    I really like Greene and am not sure why I haven't read more of his work - it is something I must put right. After watching the film of 'The Third Man', I turned to this book which contains the original novella (amazingly, Greene wrote this just so that he could adapt it for the screenplay!) and another shorter story which was also adapted for a film directed by Carol Reed, 'The Fallen Idol'. I haven't seen the latter film as yet, but both stories are beautifully written with not a word wasted, I really like Greene and am not sure why I haven't read more of his work - it is something I must put right. After watching the film of 'The Third Man', I turned to this book which contains the original novella (amazingly, Greene wrote this just so that he could adapt it for the screenplay!) and another shorter story which was also adapted for a film directed by Carol Reed, 'The Fallen Idol'. I haven't seen the latter film as yet, but both stories are beautifully written with not a word wasted, and both are very bleak in different ways.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Baba

    Deservedly under the 'Vintage Classics' label, two of Green's 'written for filming' novellas. The Third Man, even without Orson Welles' incredible 'cuckoo clock' speech, paints a great picture of post-war Europe and its effect on the common man as well as the weakening of the ties between the Russians and the other Allied Forces. The compelling tale of contradictory witness statements of a death by being hit by a car, where one statement talks of a third man at the scene, which does not balance Deservedly under the 'Vintage Classics' label, two of Green's 'written for filming' novellas. The Third Man, even without Orson Welles' incredible 'cuckoo clock' speech, paints a great picture of post-war Europe and its effect on the common man as well as the weakening of the ties between the Russians and the other Allied Forces. The compelling tale of contradictory witness statements of a death by being hit by a car, where one statement talks of a third man at the scene, which does not balance with other witnesses. The Fallen Idol is another great story looking at what causes a seven year-old to lose total faith with a man he idolised within his household. 8 out of 12.

  14. 5 out of 5

    K.E. Coles

    Love the way Graham Greene writes. He tells the story - no fuss, no nonsense - and tells it so well that you're there, in that time and place. Two very different stories in this volume, but both excellent. Love the way Graham Greene writes. He tells the story - no fuss, no nonsense - and tells it so well that you're there, in that time and place. Two very different stories in this volume, but both excellent.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lorenzo Berardi

    There seems to be a whole business about "The Third Man" which is still going on in Vienna long after the release of Carol Reed's movie based on a script by Graham Greene. A very peculiar sort of script: this novella. If you walk around the majestic Viennese Ring or through the polished, Charlotte Russe-like Innere Stadt of today, you will come across a "Third Man Museum", could join a "Third Man Tour - in the footsteps of Harry Lime", get the chance of watching the actual movie at the Burg Kino There seems to be a whole business about "The Third Man" which is still going on in Vienna long after the release of Carol Reed's movie based on a script by Graham Greene. A very peculiar sort of script: this novella. If you walk around the majestic Viennese Ring or through the polished, Charlotte Russe-like Innere Stadt of today, you will come across a "Third Man Museum", could join a "Third Man Tour - in the footsteps of Harry Lime", get the chance of watching the actual movie at the Burg Kino and will certainly meet a busker guitarist, playing the Harry Lime Theme at some corner. Not to mention the merchandising of t-shirts, teacups, dishes, key-rings with the face of Orson Welles or his silhouette at the end of a dark tunnel printed on them popping up from many souvenirs shops. I've been there myself quite recently and somehow managed to resist to The Third Man's call. The greatest temptation I renounced to was the purchase of dusty old copy of "The Dritte Man", the German translation of what Graham Greene wrote. I don't read German and I guess I guess I will never do it. But, look, a dusty old, apparently neglected book to nurse and cradle in my hands is always a stroke of love. Anyway, a few months later this last Viennese trip and back to the UK, I bought a copy of "The Third Man / The Fallen Idol" in one of those ubiquitous charity shop of Oxford and surroundings. May Calliope, Clio and Erato bless them! And here we are with this Third Man (I'm sorry for you fans of "The Fallen Idol", but there is no room in this review for it). Graham Greene wrote a brilliant spy story with a perceivable coldness and discomfort feeling in it. Vienna looks stunning here in a way that is completely forgotten nowadays. It's a grim, hunger-striken Vienna still divided into four powers: Britain, France, the US and the Soviet Union. It's a Vienna where it's easier (and cheaper) spending half an hour with a tart than with a slice of Sachertorte, a dark town where everything felt apart, rubble fills the streets and the blackened tumbledown façades of the Augsburg-age palaces hang on the bystanders and the racketeers. To put into Greene's words: "The Danube was a grey flat muddy river a long way across the Second Bezirk, the Russian zone where the Prater lay smashed and desolate and full of weeds, only the Great Wheel revolving slowly over the foundations of merry-go-round like abandoned millstones, the rusting iron of smashed tanks which nobody had cleared away, the frost-nipped weeds where the snow was thin". Well, what a contrast with contemporary wealthy and greeny Vienna, I say! This is a Vienna caught at the end of World War Two and looking like London during the Blitz (a beloved novel set for Greene) or Berlin during the same period: a town on its knees where the local currency has no value and only foreigners can get goods and commodities thanks to their status. The mysterious disappearance of Harry Lime - a British spy - and his chasing through Vienna by a childhood friend, Rollo Martins (Holly in the movie) makes a good plot with a pleasantly noir touch, but what I liked and sympathised with here is actually the city of Vienna rather than the characters. Personally, I do think that Greene was far more talented a novelist than a screenplay writer (all the things he changed from the original novel for the first movie adaptation of "Brighton Rock" are a black spot in his literary career) and although "The Third Man" is technically a novella, there is something missing here. However, this book stands out as an important and clever one among its author huge literary production. I would just say that there are better examples of Greene's mastery around.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

    2.5 stars. Maybe this wasn't the best choice of Graham Greene to start with, but I usually think that short stories are my best best when starting with an author. Unfortunately, my first outing with Greene fell somewhat flat for me. The Third Man is a well-known film, and the story was actually written as a precursor to the script (the idea originally being planned as a film script). Greene felt he needed to write it in story form before writing a script, and that story formed the majority of this 2.5 stars. Maybe this wasn't the best choice of Graham Greene to start with, but I usually think that short stories are my best best when starting with an author. Unfortunately, my first outing with Greene fell somewhat flat for me. The Third Man is a well-known film, and the story was actually written as a precursor to the script (the idea originally being planned as a film script). Greene felt he needed to write it in story form before writing a script, and that story formed the majority of this book. I have to say that I didn't really enjoy the story that much, as it felt a little sparse and rushed in the way a film idea would I imagine normally sound. Although I've heard great things about the film, and definitely want to check it out, I didn't enjoy the story as much because I found it surprisingly difficult to follow. There were a myriad of characters, who sometimes were referred to by numerous names, and I found it hard to remember each one and remember their significance. My initial confusion as to who was narrating the story also knocked my reading a little off kilter for the majority of the story. By the time I was three quarters through, I just wanted it to end. The Fallen Idol was actually the saving grace of this book for me, a short story meant only to be that, and thus holding a lot more impact for me. It told the story of a young boy Philip who become involved in an older couple's dark problems and games, with a frightening introduction to the adult world. It was only around 30 pages, but I found myself intensely interested in what would happen, and it was definitely a page-turner in a way that The Third Man just wasn't. I may well check out more Graham Greene in the future, but not for a little while, as this wasn't exactly an inspiring start for me.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk

    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 interest 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.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Chris Meigh

    My review is more for The Third Man, rather than The Fallen Idol which I didn’t care for. Set in post-war Vienna, The Third Man concerns Rollo Martins who has come to the city to visit his long-time friend Harry Lime. Upon arrival he learns that there has been an accident and that Lime has died. Before long, Martins uncovers aspects of his death which are suspicious and goes around the city looking for witnesses to once and for all find out what happened to his friend. Greene strikes again with hi My review is more for The Third Man, rather than The Fallen Idol which I didn’t care for. Set in post-war Vienna, The Third Man concerns Rollo Martins who has come to the city to visit his long-time friend Harry Lime. Upon arrival he learns that there has been an accident and that Lime has died. Before long, Martins uncovers aspects of his death which are suspicious and goes around the city looking for witnesses to once and for all find out what happened to his friend. Greene strikes again with his wonderful prose and his well-thought out story. The Third Man is a fast paced mystery thriller which, in Greene’s own words, was designed to be on the screen rather than read – none the less it is a wonderful novella with plenty of bite. The only problem with reading a story that has been turned into a famous film is that popular culture has somewhat spoiled the mystery. None-the-less I enjoyed The Third Man and would recommend it. I also read The Fallen Idol, which I must say I did not enjoy really. Though artistically created I felt as though the story lacked any real depth or substance.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michael Perkins

    First, if you have not seen the classic film noir, "The Third Man," with it's amazing cinematography of mystery and suspense and iconic performance by Orson Welles, then read no further. Do yourself a favor and rent it and treat yourself to one of the greatest films of all time. If you have at least seen the movie, and preferably also read the novella (which was published a year after the film was released), then treat yourself to this brilliant analysis below comparing the two. I was attempting First, if you have not seen the classic film noir, "The Third Man," with it's amazing cinematography of mystery and suspense and iconic performance by Orson Welles, then read no further. Do yourself a favor and rent it and treat yourself to one of the greatest films of all time. If you have at least seen the movie, and preferably also read the novella (which was published a year after the film was released), then treat yourself to this brilliant analysis below comparing the two. I was attempting to look up a quote and stumbled across this excellent article. I recently saw the film again for the first time in 20 years and wanted to read the novella for additional detail. The book did not disappoint in that regard. I've known a real Harry Lime for a long time and have seen his ability to bamboozle others who did not understand who he was, or had become, at his core. Both the film and novella provided excellent insights into the Lime I know. http://www.avclub.com/article/third-m...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Carmilla Voiez

    This book contains two of Graham Greene's short(ish) stories that were made into films. The first is set in post-war Vienna occupied by Britain, the US, France and Russia. It is a satisfying thriller, although the surprise twist wasn't so surprising, most of the interest (both drama and humour) comes from the conflicted Rollo Martins. Although it was written simply as a stepping stone towards a screenplay, there is some wonderful imagery. "... bowing her head against the wind, a dark question mar This book contains two of Graham Greene's short(ish) stories that were made into films. The first is set in post-war Vienna occupied by Britain, the US, France and Russia. It is a satisfying thriller, although the surprise twist wasn't so surprising, most of the interest (both drama and humour) comes from the conflicted Rollo Martins. Although it was written simply as a stepping stone towards a screenplay, there is some wonderful imagery. "... bowing her head against the wind, a dark question mark on the snow." How gorgeous is that? There are a number of humorous moments, revolving around a case of mistaken identity (in a rather Shakespearean farce) and in the interactions between the military police of the four powers. " American chivalry is always, it seems to me, carefully canalized - one still awaits the American saint who will kiss a leper's sores." Of the two stories I preferred the second - The Fallen Idol - told from the perspective of a young boy who is left in the care of two servants (married to each other), one of whom the boy loves and the other he hates. He is caught in the middle of an intrigue and feels crushed by the secrets he's asked to keep. My favourite passages are - "[S]he was darkness when the night-light went out in a draught; she was the frozen blocks of earth he had seen one winter in a graveyard when someone said, 'They need an electric drill'; she was the flowers gone bad and smelling in the little closet at Penstanley. There was nothing to laugh about. You had to endure her when she was there and forget about her quickly when she was away," "There had been things between them, but he laid them low, as a retreating army cuts the wires, destroys the bridges." It's always a pleasure to read effective prose, and the second story also provides plenty of tension.

  21. 4 out of 5

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    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The Third Man is a truly classical film made in 1949 by Carol Reed and based on a script by Graham Greene. As Greene felt film scenarios are too dry, he first wrote a novella for the film, which was later published as a book (together with the short story for The Fallen Idol). The novella is the film's embryo, so to speak, and several changes were made, in the names of the characters, but also more important ones. The novella is enjoyable, but the film is the greater artistic work. As is often t The Third Man is a truly classical film made in 1949 by Carol Reed and based on a script by Graham Greene. As Greene felt film scenarios are too dry, he first wrote a novella for the film, which was later published as a book (together with the short story for The Fallen Idol). The novella is the film's embryo, so to speak, and several changes were made, in the names of the characters, but also more important ones. The novella is enjoyable, but the film is the greater artistic work. As is often the case with Graham Greene, the story is one of deceit and double-dealing - a method Greene uses to bring out the moral ambiguities in which our contemporary world is steeped. Pulp novelist Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton) has been invited by his old school friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles) to come to postwar Vienna (a bombed out city still occupied by the U.S., the Soviet Union, Great Britain and France, and split in four sectors), but he just manages to be in time for his friend's burial. He starts investigating the death of Harry Lime and discovers that there are various mysteries, such as the appearance of a strange "third man" at the site where Harry was run over by a truck. He talks to Major Calloway (Trevor Howard), the investigating officer and a powerful man who considers him as a nuisance. Calloway finally fills him in on Harry's criminal activities: selling diluted penicillin on the black market, which led to the deaths of many patients, including children. Holly also meets with Harry's friends and acquaintances, such as Anna (Alifa Valli) who was Harry's lover. Holly himself falls in love with Anna, but she is still so full of Harry that he simply doesn't exist for her. She sees him as a rather weak and laughable figure (he manages to get bitten by a parrot, of all things). And then in nightly Vienna, Anna's cat leads Holly to a startling discovery... Harry Lime is alive, standing in a doorway, bathed in shadow. The film was shot on location in Vienna and the city is in fact the real protagonist. Reed spent two months filming in Vienna, only a few extra scenes were shot in the studios in England. Reed's Vienna is a dark and lonely place, very different from the waltzing city of Strauss. Reed had the streets hosed down with water, so that the cobble stones would glitter on the screen. He also flew in four huge searchlights, which helped him cast enormous shadows on the walls of the nightly city. Unforgettable is also the finale in the extensive underground sewer system, or the central scene where Holly and Harry meet each other in the big Ferris wheel on the Prater. This stood in the Russian sector and had just been put back in operation. This fairground scene also contains the moral of the film: in the war, millions of innocent people were killed by governments, as so many flies. What is he doing wrong when for money he kills a few of those "dots" himself, Harry says? Isn't this the way of the world, that the strong squash the weak? In other words, Lime serves as the embodiment of the banality of evil and forms a symbol for the moral breakdown after the Second World War. To reinforce this story, Reed used expressionistic techniques as chiaroscuro lightning and canted camera angles - almost like Welles had done in Citizen Kane (giving birth to the legend that Welles had been involved in the direction of the film, which was not the case - he only barely showed up for the few scenes in which he figures). Reed also discovered the zither player Anton Karas and had him do all the music for the film. The film's signature tune catapulted Karas to fame and led to one of the first musical "hits" of the postwar period. The Fallen Idol (1948) is a film by British director Carol Reed, based on the short story "The Basement Room" (1935) by Graham Greene. As was the case with the other films they made, The Third Man (1949) and Our Man in Havana (1959), the author worked closely together with the director on the script. The iconic image of the film comes somewhere at the beginning and is repeated several times after that: a boy staring down from an upstairs landing, peering through the railings at the doings of the grown-ups in the hall, almost as a spy or double agent. Both worlds are connected by a huge staircase - perhaps the main actor in this film which is almost a film noir, thanks to the cinematography of Georges Périnal and Vincent Korda’s set designs. The interior of the Belgrave mansion takes on the same mythical proportions as the streets of Vienna in The Third Man. The film is mostly seen through the naive eyes of the boy on the landing, who is further set apart for not being an actor and playing his role very awkwardly. But that fits the intention of the film marvelously, for in the story the grown-ups are all the time "acting" and scheming, while the young Phillippe indeed can't "act." Phillipe (Bobby Henrey) is the son of a diplomat, neglected by his parents, who idolizes his father's butler, Baines (Ralph Richardson), the only human being he feels close to. In order to entertain the boy, Baines tells strong stories about his non-existing exploits in exotic Africa, such as single-handed putting down an uprising, or killing a man in self-defense. The sad reality is that the butler has never been out of England and is stuck in a loveless marriage with a veritable harpy. Mrs Baines (Sonia Dresdel) also works in the Embassy, where she rules with an iron fist as the top maid. She is a sour killjoy, even destroying a small snake the boy secretly keeps, and Phillippe and Baines are naturally bonding against her. Phillippe catches Baines in a teashop with a young woman and Baines asks him to keep quiet about his "niece" - in fact she is Julie (Michele Morgan), a typist at the embassy with whom he is in love. And then death invades - Mrs Baines has fallen down the massive staircase after a fierce argument about Julie with her husband. Police officers come to investigate. Phillippe naturally believes his "idol" Mr Baines has done the deed of killing the harridan, and desperately tries to protect him. But his lies are so awkward that they only serve to betray Baines and lead him into deeper trouble. Baines' tall stories also come to haunt him. Next the police discover evidence that the fall was accidental and Baines is off the hook, but he has had to admit that his stories about Africa were all lies. He has lost his heroic status and so from his side also betrayed Phillippe. The boy, who has been ordered to tell the truth, now pathetically insists to the police that their new evidence is wrong (as he honestly but wrongly believes), but nobody listens to him anymore...

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kenneth Iltz

    Before writing the screenplay for The Third Man, Graham Greene worked out the atmosphere, characterization and mood of the story by writing a novella. He wrote it as a source text for the screenplay and never intended it to be read by the general public. But, of course, it was published. Penguin Classics published it in paperback with the short story The Fallen Idol. The Third Man is a 1949 British film noir directed by Carol Reed. It stars Joseph Cotten, Orson Welles, and Trevor Howard. The fil Before writing the screenplay for The Third Man, Graham Greene worked out the atmosphere, characterization and mood of the story by writing a novella. He wrote it as a source text for the screenplay and never intended it to be read by the general public. But, of course, it was published. Penguin Classics published it in paperback with the short story The Fallen Idol. The Third Man is a 1949 British film noir directed by Carol Reed. It stars Joseph Cotten, Orson Welles, and Trevor Howard. The film and the book take place in post-World-War-II Vienna. They center on Holly Martins, an American who is given a job in Vienna by his friend Harry Lime, but when Holly arrives in Vienna he gets the news that Lime is dead. Martins then meets with Lime's acquaintances in an attempt to investigate what he considers a suspicious death. Lots of intrigue and a good chase through the sewers of Vienna. I had forgotten that after the war, Vienna was sectioned off into four sections. As in Berlin, Vienna in September 1945 was divided into sectors by the four powers: the US, the UK, France and the Soviet Union and supervised by an Allied Commission. All of this ended in 1955 when the Soviet Union relinquished its zone to Austria. The short story, The Fallen Idol, is about how Philip, a seven-year-old, gets involved in a crime of passion. Young Philip witnesses the killing of the butler’s wife by the butler after his parents leave on vacation. Surprisingly, The Fallen Idol was Greene's favorite among the films he wrote. He preferred it even to The Third Man. There isn’t much to the short story and I can’t imagine it being much of a film.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alice

    The Third Man is quite a different beast to the film, but I liked it just as much. The Fallen Idol I didn't know; it's a sad and uncomfortable story about a small boy who will be affected for the rest of his life by events he doesn't properly understand. The Third Man is quite a different beast to the film, but I liked it just as much. The Fallen Idol I didn't know; it's a sad and uncomfortable story about a small boy who will be affected for the rest of his life by events he doesn't properly understand.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Edgarr Alien Pooh

    "Graham Greene's Third Man was written as a movie script. The Fallen Idol, while having been made into a movie, was not written as such. In fact, there are numerous differences between the book and movie. Obviously, the movies of these two books were made many years ago but to read The Third man you get a real feel of an old black and white movie. The book is set immediately after World War 2 in Vienna, the town still divided into four quadrants - Russian, American, British and French. Rollo Marti "Graham Greene's Third Man was written as a movie script. The Fallen Idol, while having been made into a movie, was not written as such. In fact, there are numerous differences between the book and movie. Obviously, the movies of these two books were made many years ago but to read The Third man you get a real feel of an old black and white movie. The book is set immediately after World War 2 in Vienna, the town still divided into four quadrants - Russian, American, British and French. Rollo Martins, a second-rate author of Westerns who gives Zane Grey as his greatest influence, arrives in Vienna to see his longtime friend, Harry Lime. Just prior to Martins' arrival, Lime is tragically killed in an accident. It does not take long for Rol lo to figure out that is was no accident and when rumours circulate that Harry was involved in a scam, Rollo takes it upon himself to find out what really happened. Pushing things a little too far, Rollo gets caught up in the situation with the police, Russians, and Harry's ex-lover all pointing fingers in different directions. But who is the unknown Third man? The Fallen Idol, originally called The Basement Room, is about a young boy, Philip who is left in the care of a Butler and his wife while his parents are away on a fortnight's holiday. The Butler's wife is a strict and somewhat scary woman and Philip finds himself enjoying the time that she is not at home. When she is gone he gets along really well with Baines, the butler. When he finds out Baines' biggest secret he promises he won't tell but as Mrs. Baines tries to get information from him he finds himself keeping her secret too. This is all too much for young Philip to handle and cir cumstances spiral out of control. Both The Third Man and The Fallen Idol are really short and quick reads - 130 pages for the two together but Greene packs a punch. Clever writing coupled with well-drawn characters and a real sense of the time (WW2 Vienna in Third Man's case) make compelling reading. The kind of book that makes you concerned that the movies just cannot do justice. "

  25. 5 out of 5

    Maureen Lo

    I am beginning to be a fan of Graham Greene...

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tamene

    Three stars for Third Man and five stars for the incredibly distilled novella Fallen Idol.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas Martens

    Greene wrote The Third Man to flesh out his ideas before embarking on the screenplay. As he says in his preface, it "was never meant to be read, but only to be seen." Even so, it's a hell of a thriller, and even though it's been years since I've seen the film, I could follow the story better in the novella. The writing is superb. Expect to picture Joseph Cotton and Orson Welles the entire time, there's no way around it. Greene wrote The Third Man to flesh out his ideas before embarking on the screenplay. As he says in his preface, it "was never meant to be read, but only to be seen." Even so, it's a hell of a thriller, and even though it's been years since I've seen the film, I could follow the story better in the novella. The writing is superb. Expect to picture Joseph Cotton and Orson Welles the entire time, there's no way around it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    After reading The Third Man, or more specifically, the preface thereof, I was amazed to find out that Graham Greene had written the book just so he could have material from which to make a screenplay, and that he considered the original movie clearly better than the book. I found this a bit surprising at first as this was a solid book - very much a spy/detective novel with some twists and curveballs thrown in, though without the usual degree of moral ambiguity that you find in his other works li After reading The Third Man, or more specifically, the preface thereof, I was amazed to find out that Graham Greene had written the book just so he could have material from which to make a screenplay, and that he considered the original movie clearly better than the book. I found this a bit surprising at first as this was a solid book - very much a spy/detective novel with some twists and curveballs thrown in, though without the usual degree of moral ambiguity that you find in his other works like The Quiet American. After catching the 1949 movie, with Orson Welles, I got it. The movie was hands-down phenomenal - incredible noir cinematography, and a substantially different concluding scene from the novel. The Fallen Idol is a much shorter story - 40-50 pages maybe - and packs a powerful punch. It was also made into a movie that Carol Reed directed, although I wasn't quite inspired enough by the story to put that one on my Netflix list.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Wayne

    THE THIRD MAN. Graheme Greene wrote this as a precursor to writing the script to the famous film of the same title, a classic of the film noir. It is a delicious read and a perfect little gem of a mere 98 pages. The film script stays faithful to this book mostly. The director Carol Reed's changes bettered his novel, Greene said. And I have no complaints. And Orson Welles added to the film script the famous lines about the Swiss having only added the cuckoo clock to Western Civilisation. Artistic collab THE THIRD MAN. Graheme Greene wrote this as a precursor to writing the script to the famous film of the same title, a classic of the film noir. It is a delicious read and a perfect little gem of a mere 98 pages. The film script stays faithful to this book mostly. The director Carol Reed's changes bettered his novel, Greene said. And I have no complaints. And Orson Welles added to the film script the famous lines about the Swiss having only added the cuckoo clock to Western Civilisation. Artistic collaboration gets a Full Score in this film. But the book is no less for being a solo production. Humour, atmosphere, a mystery murder, an unlikely hero, a marvellous villain, post-war intrigue in occupied Vienna...and all so skilfully handled by a Master. Read the book. See the film. Over and over and...over, of course!!!! The Fallen Idol was a film, again by Carol Reed, but based on a short story or novella by Greene.

  30. 4 out of 5

    William

    I saw both the respective movies first. The Third Man was originally a movie before a novella, and The Fallen Idol a short story before a movie. I recommend, however, The Third Man novella and The Fallen Idol the movie. Those are the better of the pairs. Fallen Idol is a darling tale about a boy who gets wrapped up in a murder his beloved Baines is wrapped up in, and The Third Man is one of Greene's pseudo-spy novels where ordinary men take up the role of detective--I love it! Both extremely ente I saw both the respective movies first. The Third Man was originally a movie before a novella, and The Fallen Idol a short story before a movie. I recommend, however, The Third Man novella and The Fallen Idol the movie. Those are the better of the pairs. Fallen Idol is a darling tale about a boy who gets wrapped up in a murder his beloved Baines is wrapped up in, and The Third Man is one of Greene's pseudo-spy novels where ordinary men take up the role of detective--I love it! Both extremely entertaining. I would have been happy with giving this review five stars, but The Fallen Idol the short story didn't reach that level of greatness. Plus, knowing Graham's greater stuff, this doesn't quite compare to Brighten Rock or Power and the Glory or etc. etc. Short reads, one's a movie--highly recommended for Greene fans who've run out of the great Catholic novels to read.

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