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Third Man Movie Tour: A Native Viennese’s Tour Review

Harry Lime and Life In Vienna Post World War II

Third Man Movie Tour. How well do you need to know Vienna to advance on a special themed tour? Not that well if you join a tour like the ‘Dritter Mann Tour’.  You will just get to know Vienna from an off-mainstream perspective. I loved that particular walk because of the insight the guided provided into life in Vienna post World War II, when my Viennese mum was a little girl. We roamed the historic centre and learned about key and hidden landmarks, from a dark and exciting perspective. Here is the full story.

Filling A Gap

Orson Welles as Harry LimeI thought I knew my hometown’s history after the Second World War, and The Third Man movie, Graham Greene’s 1949 cult classic with Orson Welles. I had watched the film ten times, and my Viennese mum, who was a little girl in 1945, told me a few things about life in the city during that time. In short, the tour filled a knowledge gap I didn’t even know existed.

Going on the walking tour and not the sewer tour proved to be right. 80 percent of the sewer scenes in the Third Man movie were done in London studios. Besides, Orson would not squeeze into narrow smelly funnels. Totally understand him.

Three Reasons To Take The Tour

Moelkerbastei in ViennaTour guide Christopher took our small international group to the main city centre locations used in the film. This allowed us to scurry around between key landmarks and great hidden corners we would have missed on a general walking tour.

There are at least three reasons that make the tour worthwile.

First, for those who know the film, visiting the original film locations and learning about the many anecdotes and film production flaws that were made is fascinating. The idea for the film script itself was born at the Hotel Sacher Vienna, where author Graham Greene stayed in 1948.

Second, you learn about everyday life in Vienna after the Second World War: from the story of the Russian pea king of Vienna, at that time, to the Allied Forces, having roof rabbit for Sunday lunch to the dealings of the British Secret Service Third Man film locationin Vienna and diluted penicillin trades on the Black Market, which is the main context of the film. And third, you discover great locations that you probably wouldn’t have visited otherwise, like the Mölkerbastei.

Third Man Movie Tips

Should you have seen the Third Man movie before doing the tour? It’s not essential but you will have even more fun.

Vienna Unwrapped symbolMy tip: Watch out for the following scenes in the film before you do the tour:

  1. Holly Martin arrives at Harry Lime’s house (see Josefsplatz and statue in the background)
  2. Holly speaks with the porter (watch his gestures when he talks about Harry having gone to heaven or hell)
  3. Baron Kurtz meets Holly Martin at a cafe (watch the Capuchin Church on Neuer Markt in the background)
  4. Watch the balloon seller scene which takes place at Michaelerplatz
  5. Major Callaway opens the door of an advertising column when he follows Harry Lime (watch the large square Am Hof in the background)
  6. See Harry’s fingers coming through the sewer grid at the end of the film (anything wrong with that?)

Tour Details

Tour timings: Mondays and Fridays 4pm to 6.30pm
Language: English and German
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Further Resources

The Third Man’s Vienna, a thoroughly researched picture book based on the film and the locations used, written by historian Brigitte Timmermann (Christopher’s mother). The book can be bought when you do the tour.

The film music includes the famous zither theme by Anton Karas. The idea for this theme was born when the production team heard zither music at the local wine taverns. The tunes produced by Austrian Anton Karas are absolutely authentic Viennese. You can get the CD on Amazon and all larger music stores in the US and Europe.

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