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3000 spies in Vienna

I keep wishing I had some tale of international intrigue to entertain you guys with, but it keeps failing to materialize. I go on the Third Man Tour of Vienna, and our guide informs us of two very interesting facts: Harry Lime is modeled on the British traitor Kim Philby, whom Graham Green was friends with (and refused to betray), and Vienna was home to 2500 spies during the cold war. Hearing this, I put on a shirt that reads “Hapless American Tourist Seeking to get Caught in Web of International Intigue. Ask me About Smuggling Microfilm into West Berlin in my Luggage.”

The doorway Harry Lime is revealed in, old man.

The doorway Harry Lime is revealed in, old man.

  1. Hal
    July 27, 2009 at 2:17 am

    Okay, hang on. I find it hard to believe that Lime was modeled on Kim Philby. First off, the film premiered in 1949, Philby wasn’t officially found out until 1963, disappearing and heading for Moscow on January 23. So he wouldn’t have been revealed as a spy when the film was in production in the late forties.

    His friends Burgess and Maclean had defected around 1949, after having been warned by Philby, which brought Philby under suspicion but did not lead to his removal from British Intelligence until several years later. And even after he was officially removed from British Intelligence (though they later reinstated his pension) Philby worked for MI6 into the later 1950s on an “informant on retainer.”

    Also find it tough to believe that Philby would have revealed himself to Greene as a spy, unless he’d been trying to recruit him — and I seem to remember that Greene was pretty strongly anti-communist and is generally thought to have been denied the Nobel for literature because of his support of the Vietnam War.

    Though I could be wrong.

    • nycwastrel
      July 27, 2009 at 8:07 pm

      Dunno, just passing on what the tour guide said.

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