Graham Greene's and Carol Reed's The Third Man: When a Cowboy Comes to Vienna

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2007


Frank Kermode, looking back at the work of W. B. Yeats, whose "Second Coming" can be seen as an exemplar of Modernist fears of chaos and its frequent desire to regain control over existence through form, makes a point "more often noticed than explained: totalitarian theories of form matched or reflected . . . totalitarian politics" (108). Within the darkness of the film's climax and the missed opportunities for connection between Anna and Martins in the still camera shot, with only Anna's movement to disturb the peace of the avenue leading away from Lime's funeral and the city's central cemetery, perhaps Greene and Reed suggest again the hopelessness of the illusions of romance-here embodied by the Western-and the ultimate futility of trying to impose one's desires on others.