'Better Call Saul' Songbook, Episode 5: 'The Third Man Theme'

Tuesday, 03 March 2015 06:21 AM Written by 

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read unless you've seen the latest episode of Better Call Saul.

This week, Jimmy McGill deals with his brother Chuck's meltdown and arrest for going outside to steal a newspaper,  not knowing Jimmy has swiped his copy so he couldn't see the article on his fake heroism at his ill-fated billboard. There's an encounter with a secessionist, as well as the inventor of a pervy, trash-talking toilet for kids. 

After dealing with a woman up in years, deciding which relative should get which portions of her Hummel collection, Jimmy, convinced Elder Law (handling legal problems of the elderly) is his ticket, he begins to promote himself with cards saying "Need a will? Call McGill!" 

As he glad-hands residents of an Albuquerque retirement home, where they received Jell-O cups with his slogan at the bottom, an exotic bit of music accompanies the scene: the theme to the 1949 British film The Third Man, starring Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton, Trevor Howard and Alida Valli. Directed by Sir Carol Reed and set in post World War II Vienna, today this Film Noir masterpiece is rightly deemed a landmark film. Welles plays Harry Lime, an American villain who fakes his own death. 

Reed, Welles, Cotton and Valli were drinking in a small Vienna tavern one night after filming when they took note of the musician playing there: Viennese zither player Anton Karas (1906-1985), whose exotic sounds seemed perfect for the movie. Karas ended up recording recorded the entire 40 minute soundtrack including the theme, known as "Harry Lime" or "The Harry Lime Theme" in Britain and as "The Third Man Theme" in America.  In England, the record sold half a million.

Two American recordings reached Number One in 1950, one by Karas (also successful in England), the other by Guy Lombardo and His Orchestra. A number of other bands recorded it, as did country guitar great Chet Atkins.  

Saul's producers and music people used none of the above. They chose a later version: a 60's recording by British bandleader and composer Malcolm Lockyer (1923-1976)

"The Harry Lime (Third Man) Theme" Malcolm Lockyer And His Concert Orchestra

 

 

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