As a film geek, I've seen countless movies but I only rank two as absolute favorites. The Magic Christian directed by Joe McGrath, based on Terry Southern's book and starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr holds the number two spot. The slice of cinema history that I can watch endlessly and love no matter what condition the print is Carol Reed's The Third Man with Joseph Cotton and Alida Valli. Yes, Orson Welles is in it but Joe and Alida make me salivate.
The musical theme and the soundtrack throughout is by Anton Karas playing the zither with innovation and mastery making modern ears think it's electronic gimmickry. Love the movie, love the theme, and so did many others as the variety of renditions spanning genres and generations proves.
As my anniversary offering to Cold Dirt Press, I have gathered some of my favorite versions of The Third Man Theme a.k.a. The Harry Lime Theme. First up are the iconic opening credits of the film with vibrating strings.
Here is Anton playing live!
The Beatles poking around in the recording studio.
The ska version that makes me melt by The Granville Williams Orchestra.
Pop singer Don Cherry's smooth version with lyrics.
The Fontane Sisters rock it up.
Enoch Light lounges around with Karas' masterpiece.
Juan Garcia Esquivel blasts into orbit with Harry Lime.
Bandleader extraordinaire Xavier Cugat brings the Latin flavor.
Jose Feliciano with an elaborate music video from 2009.
Chester Atkins picks on Karas.
A different approach on the harp by John Kovac.
Honky-tonkin' by Russ Conway on a 78 rpm.
Dance party time with Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass. Oh, yeah!
Mickey "Guitar" Baker twangifies the tune.
A reggae version from 1981 by British instrumental giants The Shadows.
Don Costa takes us on an Easy Listening route through the sewers of Vienna.
Guy Lombardo brings the champagne.
Liberace brings the popcorn.
The Mandolinenorchester Ettlingen from Germany has a baroque feel.
On the V accordion, 'nuff said.
And finally, a unique approach on pianica, clarinet and kazoo.
For a bonus, here's the last shot of the film.