Saturday, January 29, 2005

Harry Lime is alive and well

Back in October, I wrote briefly about the great 1949 film The Third Man, which starred Orson Welles as Harry Lime, "the worst racketeer who ever made a dirty living" in Vienna. Lime appears only briefly in the movie, but Welles' portrayal of the character is powerful, seductive, and unforgettable.

For many years, I knew that Welles had also played Lime in an early 1950s British radio series, syndicated in the U.S. But until last week, I'd heard only one of the old radio broadcasts (offered on Criterion's extraordinary Third Man DVD). Well, I discovered that the people at Old Time Radio offer the ENTIRE 52-episode "The Lives of Harry Lime" series on a single CD (MP3 files) for just $5! I snapped it up immediately and I've been listening to hours and hours of Orson Welles/Harry Lime ever since. Wonderful!

The radio program is a prequel to The Third Man and turns the badguy "movie Harry" into a lovable, globetrotting rogue who only fleeces victims greedier than he is. Each episode features the movie's famous Anton Karas zither music and opens with a gunshot. Then Welles says:
"That was the shot that killed Harry Lime. He died in a sewer beneath Vienna, as those of you know who saw the movie The Third Man. Yes, that was the end of Harry Lime, but not the beginning. Harry Lime had many lives and I can recount all of them. How do I know? Very simple. Because my name is Harry Lime."
The stories are terrific, and the clever dialogue is often laugh-out-loud funny. Welles wrote a few of the scripts, including the premiere episode, "Too Many Crooks." And he turned one of his Lime plots, "Man of Mystery," into his 1955 movie Mr. Arkadin.

If you love The Third Man, you'll adore this CD -- all 26 hours of it. Check it out right here.


At 2:57 PM, Blogger bkmarcus said...

I ordered mine immediately.

At 5:00 PM, Blogger Wally Conger said...

You won't be sorry. I'm STILL working through the 52 half-hour episodes, and I'm having the time of my life. I may write a full-blown essay on this series...

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