In the post Second World War, the unemployed pulp fiction writer Holly Martins arrives in Vienna to meet with his old friend from school, Harry Lime, who has offered him a job. On the arrival, he learns that Harry has just died, hit by a truck in front of his building, and he goes to his funeral. Holly Martins sees a beautiful woman, Anna Schmidt, and a friend of Harry and sooner he learns that Anna was Harry's lover. Maj. Calloway, who is commanding the investigation, offers the ticket to Holly return home, but while waiting for the trip, he talks to two friends of Harry that tell that they had been the firsts to help his friend. However, the porter of Harry's building tells that there was a mysterious third man that helped Harry and Holly Martins becomes intrigued with the inconsistency and decides to investigate further. Sooner he discloses that Harry Lime was the leader of a gang that robbed penicillin from the military hospital to adulterate and resell it, and has caused the death and anomalies in many children. He continues to investigate and he has a great surprise when he finds who the third man is.
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