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Graham Greene (1904-1991)

The Third Man is among Greene's most popular books. The story about corruption and betrayal gave basis for the film classic under the same title. Successful partners on The Fallen Idol (1948) and Our Man in Havanna (1960), Graham Greene and the director Carol Reed achieved the peak of their collaboration on this film. "I am getting terribly bored with... everybody except Carol who gets nicer and nicer on acquaintance," Greene wrote to Catherine Walston from Vienna in 1948. In The Third Man Holly Martin (Joseph Cotten) arrives in Vienna to discover that his friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles) has died in a car accident. It turns out that Lime was involved in criminal activities, and Lime's girlfriend Anna Schmidt (Alida Valli) suspects that his death may not have been accidental. A porter recalls a mysterious third man at the scene of the death. One evening Martins sees a man obscured by the shadows, who suddenly disappears - he is Lime. The meet and Lime rationalizes his villainy in a speech at a fairground Ferris wheel: "In Italy for 30 years the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed. They produced Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, five hundred years of democracy and peace. And what did that produce. The cuckoo clock." Major Calloway (Trevor Howard) threatens to deport Anna and Martins betrays Lime to secure her freedom. In a chase through the sewers Martins kills Lime, and Anna leaves him after the funeral. - Music, composed by Anton Karas, became highly popular. "The reader will notice many differences between the story and the film, and he should not imagine these changes were forced on an unwilling author : as likely as not they were suggested by the author. The film in fact is better than the story because it is in this case the finished state of the story." (Greene in Ways of Escape) The character of Harry Lime inspired later a series on American radio, performed by Welles, short stories published by the News of the World, and the TV series of The Third Man, starring Michael Rennie. And in Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures (1994) Kate Winslet fantasized about Harry.

Greene's ability to create debate and his practical jokes brought him often into headlines. He recommended Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita as his 'Book of the Year' in the Sunday Times and praised the men involved in the Great Train Robbery. In a letter to the Spectator he proposed a scheme to bankrupt the British postal system. In the 1950s Greene's emphasis switched from religion to politics. He lived at the Majestic hotel in Saigon and made trips to Hong Kong and Singapore. In 1953 he was in Kenya, reporting the Mau Mau upraising, and in 1956 he spent a few weeks in Stalinist Poland, and tried to help a musician to escape to the West. In Ways of Escape Greene told a story about the Other, who called himself Graham Greene, but whose real name was perhaps John Skinner or Meredith de Varg. In the 1950s the Other lost his passport in India, and was sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment. A decade later he was photographed in a Jamaican paper with "Missus drink", an attractive woman. "Some years ago in Chile, after I had been entertained at lunch by President Allende, a right-wing paper in Santiago announced to its readers that the President had been deceived by an impostor. I found myself shaken by a metaphysical doubt. Had I been the impostor all the time? Was I the other? Was I Skinner? Was it even possible that I might be Meredith de Varg?"

The Asian setting stimulated Greene's THE QUIET AMERICAN (1955), which was about American involvement in Indochina. The story focuses on the murder of Alden Pyle (the American of the title

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