Song of the Day: Anton Karas, “The Third Man Theme”

Austrian zither player and composer was born on this day in 1906. In the summer of 1948, director (Mr.) Carol Reed went to a nightclub in Vienna, heard Karas play, and asked if he would write the score for the film The Third Man. They sent Karas to England to compose, but after a while he was homesick and asked to go home. Reed said he could after the score was complete. "The Third Man Theme," also called "The Harry Lime Theme," sold half a million copies by 1949 and helped to make the movie and Karas a success. In this video, Karas is playing his own composition.

8 thoughts on “Song of the Day: Anton Karas, “The Third Man Theme”

  1. Another great reason that makes The Third Man my favorite movie. Greene wrote the screenplay and after the movie was a hit, he was pressured to write the novel.


  2. I just love this song, as you may know. In fact, I love the Zither which is a complicated instrument and Anton Karas is an expert. I have an album of his with this song on it, of course. The Third Man is one of my all time favourite films from the moody and expressionistic camerawork to the great acting of the 3 leads-Joseph Cotton, Alida Valli and Orson Welles. I do love Trevor Howard(under-rated actor) and Bernard Lee, future M in the Bond Films as the right hand man to Howard who loves Cotton’s books. Yes, this is a book written by Graham Greene. I want to read it one day too. This film shows the destruction Vienna went through and how they bounced back in only a decade after the war. It makes me think about hurricane Katrina and how New Orleans is still cleaning up.


  3. Thanks John – this is such a brilliant composition … love it – and yes I got hooked on the programme – one day I must read the book. Cheers Hilary


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