The Third Man is regarded as probably the finest British movie of the twentieth century. I would only put Zulu, Get Carter, The Long Good Friday, The Full Monty, Kind Hearts and Coronets and Lawrence of Arabia in the same bracket.
I was always interested in doing the tour and required little persuasion to join the eclectic National Rust group already out there. Only Bob Tickler knew the film well and Polly not at all.
We met the guide, Chris, outside the Stadtpark subway station. His mother wrote a book on the film and his sister did the tour too so it was all a family business. We started by the canal above the sewers but Chris gave us our first wake-up call by informing us that 80% of the picture was filmed at Shepperton studios. This surprised me as much of the classic film features post-war Vienna.
We moved onto the Hotel Sacher. This is where Holly Martins, the writer of cowboy stories and friend of Harry Lime stayed. It was also the centre of M16 for whom Graham Greene worked, his boss being Kim Philby. It’s said that the relationship between Martins and Lime mirrored that of Greene and Philby, though noone realised that Philby was a double agent at that time.
We saw the very wall that formed the shadow of Lime who Martins followed into an empty square, the apartment block of Anna Schmidt and finally the porch with a famous shot of Lime, cat nestled at his feet, with winsome smile and most famously the zither tune of Antony Karas that was to sell 52 million copies and became famous globally. It was nice touch that we went into a small restaurant where Barbara, a noted zither player, gave us a rendition.
The only criticism was we did not visit the ferris wheel in the Prater Park but otherwise all the famous scenes were visited though no one went down a sewer. Polly admitted that it all went over her head and, although the tour did cover other aspects of Vienna, you really did need to know and love the film to make the two and half hour tour worthwhile.