The making of “The Third Man”

The smell in the sewers was too bad for Orson Welles, and a butcher had to stand in as his double. The camera equipment didn’t fit into the cabin of the Giant Ferris Wheel, so some scenes were filmed in a London studio. And the cat in the movie was actually three different cats that were not even particularly alike. As with any movie, the making of the film noir classic “The Third Man” included a bit of (more or less successful) trickery. Only Vienna itself was shown with unsparing honesty: in the post-war period the city was just as monochromatic as the movie. In 1951 it won an Oscar for the Best Black-and-White Cinematography. 2019 is the 70th anniversary of the movie’s worldwide premiere in London. The scenes in Vienna’s sewer system, where Harry Lime (played by Orson Welles) flees from his pursuers, are etched into the world’s collective memory. Come with us to visit the original Vienna filming locations of this legendary movie (by pointing the cursor on the numbered pins on your desktop or touching them with your finger on your smartphone).

Thanks to STUDIOCANAL for allowing us to use the film clips. “The Third Man” is now available in a digitally remastered DVD edition, released in 2015.


The porter at Harry Lime’s apartment building is legendary: Paul Hörbiger could not speak a word of English and depended on phonetic help to pronounce his lines. Harry Lime gives his address as 15 Stiftgasse (in the 7th district). The filming actually took place on Josefsplatz, by the Palais Pallavicini. Harry Lime appears to get run over right in front of the apartment building. All the witnesses claim that the body was carried across the street to the Kaiser Josef memorial by two men. Only the porter claims to have seen three men. So who was “The Third Man”?

Giant Ferris Wheel

Practically every movie made in Vienna includes the Giant Ferris Wheel. The British movie crew was allowed to film there despite the fact that it was in the Soviet sector of the city. But the scenes showing the entrance and inside the gondola cabin itself were actually shot in a studio.

Hotel Sacher

The Hotel Sacher is famous all over the world (particularly because of the torte named after it) and during the filming of the movie it was being used as a British military hotel. Author Graham Greene stayed here when he was researching for the screenplay.

Mölker Bastei

Here on the remains of the old city wall, near the University of Vienna, is where Orson Welles makes his entrance: it is not until about an hour into the movie that his character Harry Lime first appears. He stands in the shadow of a doorway, with a cat at his feet (one of three cats used in the movie – they did not even look particularly alike).

Sewer tunnels

The most iconic location for “The Third Man” was the Vienna sewer system. Harry Lime escapes from Karlsplatz down a stone stairway into Vienna’s underworld (and today this is still the way down into the popular “Third Man Tour - Canal”). The sewer tunnel was hardly an ideal filming location: for one thing, the smell was so terrible that Orson Welles had a body double stand in for him in several scenes – a Vienna butcher named Schusser. Another issue was that there were very few spaces down there that were large enough for filming. Skillful editing and ingenious changes of perspective were used to give the illusion of an incredibly extensive network of tunnels.

Events 2019-2021

The Third Man Museum

A highlight for all fans of the movie is The Third Man Museum, near the Vienna Naschmarkt. Here two Third Man fans, Gerhard Strassgschwandtner and Karin Höfler, have lovingly gathered a collection of rare exhibits and movie props from all over the world. In 2019 visitors can look forward to a special exhibition: “70 years of ‘The Third Man’” includes treasures that have never previously been exhibited (May 11, 2019 - January 6, 2021).

Third Man Tour – Canal

From May to October, enthusiasts can take a trip into the Vienna sewer tunnels, starting right where Orson Welles, in role as Harry Lime, escapes into the city’s underworld. These fascinating tours into Vienna’s sewer tunnels present not only interesting facts about the movie “The Third Man”, but also about how Vienna’s modern sewer system serves this city where a million people live today.

The Third Man Museum

Pressgasse 25

1040 Vienna


Tel. +43 1 586 48 72

Sa 14:00-18:00, guided tours on request

Third Man Tour – Canal


1010 Vienna


May to October: Th to Su, 10:00-20:00 (last tour: 19:00)

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