First Edition of Graham Greene's The Third Man and The Fallen Idol; Signed by Him

  • The Third Man and The Fallen Idol.
  • The Third Man and The Fallen Idol.
  • The Third Man and The Fallen Idol.

The Third Man and The Fallen Idol.


Item Number: 98232

London: William Heinemann, 1950.

First edition of Greene’s postwar thriller, based on his original screenplay for the 1949 film starring Orson Welles. Octavo, original cloth. Signed by Graham Greene on the title page. Fine in a near fine dust jacket. Housed in a custom clamshell box. Signed first editions are scarce.

The creative partnership of producer Alexander Korda, director Carol Reed and Graham Greene, one that produced “two of the greatest films of the postwar era,” began in 1947 with an adaptation of Greene’s short story “The Basement Room,” first published in 1935. Re-titled The Fallen Idol (The Lost Illusion in America), this 1948 film was “Greene’s first real work for the cinema and his favorite among his film scripts” (Sherry II:239-41). Yet the trio’s next collaboration produced a film even more illustrious, one that “despite Greene’s great body of work over six decades… remains his most popular quoted work,” the definitive noir classic, The Third Man (Falk). Influenced by the writer’s relationship with British spy Kim Philby and Philby’s close friend, Peter Smolka, the screenplay also relied on Greene’s research in postwar Vienna, a city divided into four Allied zones, crowded with refugees and rife with corruption. The 1949 film, with its distinctive musical score, won the 1949 Grand Prize at Cannes and was nominated for three Academy Awards. The American edition of the book, published a few months before this British one, omits “all negative references to the Russians and Americans in the occupation force,” a discrepancy explained by Greene and Reed’s preparation of two versions, one “a typescript of the story from which they had eliminated all the potentially offensive references to the United States or the Soviet Union. They used this sanitized version to show the American and Russian officers whose permission was needed for filming on location. Greene mistakenly sent one of these typescripts to Viking,” the American publishers,but sent the correct version to Heinemann (Shelden, 278-79).

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