Guest Blogger Geoff Moore: THE THIRD MAN IN VIENNA



Over 60 years has elapsed since the film The Third Man was first screened but you can still see and visit many of the iconic locations featured in it and that includes the sewers that played such an important role in the plot.

Vienna where this film noir hit was placed but during the post-war time when the city was divided into four sectors between the French, British, American and Russian armies. It starred Orson Welles, Trevor Howard, Joseph Cotton, Alida Valli and Paul Horbiger in this post war spy thriller in the bombed out remains of the Austrian capital.   You can very easily see first hand many of the key locations such as Harry Lime’s apartment, the giant ferris wheel or ‘Riesenrad’, but one of the strangest locations has to be the sewers themselves running for miles under the city and that was where the climactic cop chase was filmed.

Certainly its possible to find out these various locations above ground by yourself but the easiest way is to take an organised walking tour of the city with the help of the Timmermann family. Consisting of mother, Dr. Brigette Timmermann, and her three children, Barbara, Kerstin, and Christopher who will take turns to take you on a 2 hour walking tour.

Costing €15 for adults they will point out the various locations used in the famous Carol Read film and give really informative explanations as they do.Also to add that extra dimension there is a chance to hear some magical authentic zither music part way through the tour as that musical sound track was such a worldwide hit in the early 1950’s and even today is so recognisable!

They will also point out how you can visit the sewers which for safety reasons is organised by the City sewer authorities, however this facility is only open during May to October whereas the walking tours are held throughout the year come rain or shine twice a week! The Timmermann’s are happy to organise more personal tours at different times but that would have to be arranged with them directly. Dr Timmermann has written a very definitive and well-researched book on the history of the Third Man film and I would highly recommend this.

Getting access to underground Vienna and the sewers is done at Karlsplatz very close to the Opera House right in the city centre. From May to October Thursdays to Sunday and from 10am until 8pm with the last tours leave at 7pm. It costs €7 for adults and also with various concessions too. The tour takes you into a labyrinth under the city and here you get to see where some scenes were shot. However it appears the star, actor Orson Welles was rather reluctant to make no more than a cursory visit just enough to get some shots but with the bulk of them filmed in the more sweet smelling studios back in the UK!

As well as the chance to experience the iconic film locations on a tour of the city more background to the film itself and the book’s author by Graham Greene can be found at The Third Man Museum (Der Dritte Mann) 25 Pressgasse a short walk from the Kettenbruckengasse underground station on the U4 line. This private museum is run by the very enthusiastic but with an almost unpronounceable surname, well to an English speaker, Gerhard Strassgschwandtner. His wonderful collection of artifacts about the film including the zither used by Anton Karas and other items from that time period is well worth seeing even though it is generally only open on Saturdays. However he will take bookings for groups of film enthusiasts at any time and they are trying to open at further times for individuals on certain dates please check with their website for those details. Normal admission for adults is €7.50 with other concessions for children students etc.

Getting into the city of Vienna could not be easier from the modern airport you could take just a short taxi ride or you could use the dedicated rail service called the CAT that will whisk visitors into the centre in just 15mins. Some visitors arrive via the River Danube on river cruises and again a short taxi ride or a tram or Underground train from Heligistadt will have you in the city centre in 10 minutes.

Although the film is over half a century old it is held up as a great piece of cinema and in the city you can still see it at the Burgh Kino where it’s still shown several times every week!



Geoff Moore

Geoff Moore is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE