Although charming, he is a monster whornattracts people and then uses them remorselesslyrnto advance his own interests.rnWhen the Brits seem to be closing in onrnhim, he has no compunchon about sellingrnout his Czechoslovakian mistress tornthe Russians in order to save himself. AsrnMartins puts it in Greene’s text, “evil wasrnlike Peter Pan—it carried with it the horrifyingrnand horrible gift of eternal youth,”rna perspective from which other peoplernare not quite real; they’re merely conveniencesrnor obstacles. That’s why Limerncan make Martins an extraordinary offerrnon the Ferris wheel. At the ride’s apex,rnthey stand in a swinging cabin, therncityscape seesawing crazily in the background.rnDisgusted by his friend’s evidentrnshamelessness, Martins asks him, “Havernyou ever seen one of your victims?” As anrnanswer, Harry beckons Holly to the cabinrnwindow and bids him to look on the peoplernin the amusement park below, nowmerernspecks:rnVictims? Don’t be melodramatic.rnWould you really feel any pity ifrnone of those dots stopped movingrnforever? If I offered you 20,000rnpounds for every dot that stops,rnwould you really, old man, tell mernto keep my money? Or would yourncalculate how many dots you couldrnafford to spare?rnAfter all, he cheerily rationalizes, he’s doingrnno more than governments do.rn”They talk about the people and the proletariat.rnI talk about the suckers and thernmugs. It’s the same thing. They haverntheir five-year plans and so have I.” Onerncould hardly imagine a more chillingrnparody of Christ’s temptation in therndesert. Lime makes his argument withrnsuch cunning confidence in its irresistibilityrnthat he backhandedly indictsrnour entire century, if not all human history.rnHow many of us have steadfastly rejectedrnhis Satanic temptation? How oftenrnhave our leaders chosen to sacrifice therndots on the ground in the cause of somernhigher political goal—the classless state,rnsay, or national identity —when whatrnthey were really after was the cheapest ofrnbribes, the so-called power and glory ofrnthis world? How many dots have we sacrificedrnin Serbia?rnReed stingingly delivers one of Greene’srncentral messages: No one has cleanrnhands, least of all those who hold officialrnauthorit)’. It turns out that Harry’s penicillinrnracket was made possible by the Allies’rnoccupation forces. They decided tornrestrict the antibiotic to their military hospitals,rnkeeping it from the Austrians.rnReed widens the indictment with a sort ofrnmacabre grace note supplied by the runningrngag of Holly mistaking Calloway’srnname time and again: He keeps callingrnhim Callaghan until the exasperated majorrnfinally points out, “I’m British, notrnIrish.” Yes, so you are, one thinks. Otherrnthan that, you’re as fine a chap as the restrnof us good souls. It’s just that we’re all arnbit compromised by those nagging entanglementsrnwe have with our respectiverntribalisms and self-interests.rnAlthough leavened by theologicalrnhope, Greene’s story is, in his narrator’srnwords, “grim and sad and unrelieved.”rnReed, however, had the visual wit to turnrnit into popular entertainment. He brightenedrnGreene’s grayness without sacrificingrnany of his provocative darkness.rnWhat seems bleak on the page fairlyrnblazes on the screen, nowhere more sornthan when Welles makes his justly famousrnentrance as Harry Lime, a namernwith a distinctively demonic aura. OldrnHarry is British slang for Satan, andrnLime, as Harry’s dialogue reminds us,rnsuggests limelight and Lucifer’s pre-fallenrnsplendor. After hearing the otherrncharacters discuss this scoundrel obsessivelyrnfor 59 minutes, we become —atrnleast on first viewing —accustomed tornthinking of him as an absence whosernpresence is felt everywhere, almost arnThomistic version of evil. Then Limernsuddenly appears, and the screen flaresrnwith an energy that we could hardly havernanticipated. Old Harry will only be onrnscreen for 11 minutes, but what an 11rnminutes!rnLurking in the shadows of a doorway,rnLime is revealed to us when a window isrnopened above, illuminating him. As therncamera trucks slowly forward, it revealsrnWelles for the first time. In extremernclose-up, his face seems the radiant, incandescentrnsource of all the world’s lightrnas he smiles at us with a conspirator’srnknowing welcome. You’ve been lookingrnfor me, his expression mockingly says.rnWell, how do like what vou see? With anrnarch smile on his overfed but still handsomelyrnrakish visage, Welles is physicallyrnthe incarnation of debonair sleaze. Thernmasterfully contrived scene defines LimerninstanUy. He is a charming, fallen angelrnof light emerging from his chosen darkness,rnas unbowed as he is unrepentant.rnWe instantiy understand why others arerndrawn to him. He may be morally contemptible,rnbut he is also a vital, quicksilverrnLucifer, who speaks seductively to therninfantile wantonness in us all.rnTypical of Greene’s vision. Lime becomesrnboth satan and savior to the innocentrnMartins, at once a source of temptationrnand an occasion to redeem himselfrnIn Greene’s excessively Augustinian universe,rnno one is saved without first takingrnthe sacrament of sin. Martins does this byrnawakening to his complicity with the engagingrnHarry. It’s dupes like himself whornlicense such predators.rnThus Lime, who had been the elusivernthird man at his fake accident, becomesrnunintentionally quite a different thirdrnman, the one who shows up in Chapterrn24 of Saint Luke’s gospel. In this passage,rntwo disconsolate disciples are walking tornEmmaus after Christ’s Crucifixion. Asrnthey proceed, they suddenly notice therernis a third man walking with them. Onlyrnwhen they pause to break bread togetherrnare their eyes opened. The third man isrnJesus.rnThis is the film’s faith: that despite ourrnineradicable selfishness, we neverthelessrnserve as instruments of one another’s salvation,rnGreene, perhaps, but not grim,rnGeorge McCartney teaches English atrnSt John’s University.rnPAID ADVERTISEMENTrnNow online:rnNOTES FROM THE TWENTIETH CENTURYrnby John Melvinrnhttp://v\’ ADVERTISEMENTrn50/CHRONICLESrnrnrn