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Lives of Harry Lime, Volume 1 - 10 hours [Download] #RA173D
The Lives of Harry Lime, Volume 1

10 hours - Digital Download

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The Lives of Harry Lime
Volume 1

Orson Welles as Harry Lime in "The Third Man" (1949)When recounting the lives of people who never seemed to have realized their full potential, we tend to use the term "what if?" But in the case of Orson Welles, his was a life full of "if only's". If only he hadn't made "Citizen Kane" as his first film and aroused the ire of the powerful and influential newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst. If only he hadn't accepted that invitation to travel to South America to make a documentary, leaving his second film, "The Magnificent Ambersons", to be butchered by RKO. If only he had planned better, see further ahead, that ill-fated South American documentary "It's All True" wouldn't have resulted in the death of a national hero - an accident that made him persona non grata in South America and forced his immediate departure and the abandonment of the film. If only he had found a way to ingratiate himself with the movie studios and work more comfortably within their structures, he might well have been able to spend his days making successful movies, rather than scrambling around for the funds to make them independently.

But the "if only's" of Orson Welles' life did have some positives - if only for fans of audio drama. For, if he hadn't had the constant need to raise money for his projects, he would have turned his back completely on radio - a medium at which he truly excelled. If that had been the case, radio enthusiasts then and now would never have had the chance to enjoy "Orson Welles' Almanac", "The Mercury Summer Theater", or "The Lives of Harry Lime".

The 1949 film "The Third Man" was an international success. Written by Graham Greene and directed by Carol Reed, the production stars Welles' Mercury Theater compatriot Joseph Cotten as Holly Martins, a writer of pulp westerns, who travels to post-war Vienna at the behest of his old friend Harry Lime, played by Welles. Upon his arrival at Lime's apartment, Martins discovers that Harry has been killed in a traffic accident and, soon after, attends his funeral. But it isn't long before he learns of Harry's true activities in Vienna as a black marketeer - and also begins to suspect that his old friend might not have been killed in that accident after all. A stylish and beautifully made example of post-war film noir, "The Third Man" was praised by critics worldwide for its story, direction, acting, and its distinctive musical score, played on zither by Anton Karas. Welles' appearance in "The Third Man" was something of a tonic for his rather shaky acting career. Though the part itself is not large - Lime appears on screen for only a few minutes in the film - he is the central character and, indeed, the most interesting part of a truly classic film. When Lime does appear on screen, it's highly memorable: a crooked and knowing smile on the face of a figure in a suddenly illuminated doorway, an exchange of information in a deserted amusement park, and a police chase through the catacomb-like sewers of Vienna.

In the late 1940s, following the disastrous box office returns of his now-classic film "The Lady from Shanghai" and the baffled critical response to his low-budget Scottish dialect film version of Shakespeare's "Macbeth", Welles found himself self-exiled in Europe - specifically, in Great Britain. Dodging extensive debt in America and accepting film roles as a way to raise funds for his future projects, Welles became acquainted with Harry Alan Towers, a radio producer whose company, Towers of London, was heavily into syndicated radio production. Towers, a young and increasingly successful impresario, had spent the postwar years creating radio entertainment with an eye toward syndication in British, American, Australian, and Canadian markets. His anthology series "Secrets of Scotland Yard" had proven that there was a lucrative market for high-end entertainment and, in Welles, he saw a personality and a talent that could quickly make his production company one of the leading lights in syndicated features.

Though lately known for his films, Welles had a unique and distinctive talent for radio; he had learned a great deal about dramatic production during his time as "The Shadow" in the 1930s and while creating and starring in "The Mercury Theatre on the Air" and "The Campbell Playhouse" and he brought many of radio's production techniques to his films. Despite its ephemeral nature, the immediacy (and relatively short-term commitments) associated with radio production appealed to Welles - especially since, in the case of prerecorded programs, he could transcribe a lengthy series of radio shows in a fairly short period of time, then take his large check and depart for more hospitable climes. To this end, Welles signed with Towers to appear in a radio series to be titled "The Lives of Harry Lime", based on the character from "The Third Man".

Harry Lime meets his end in the sewers of Vienna - "The Third Man" (1949)The die was cast and the contracts signed, but one hitch remained: how to revive the character of Harry Lime? In "The Third Man", after cleverly eluding the authorities for almost the entire film, Lime is finally gunned down. The film was popular and widely known, so it simply wouldn't do to suddenly decide that Lime had either risen from the dead or had never been killed at all. So Towers, with Welles' involvement, decided to make "The Lives of Harry Lime" a prequel to "The Third Man". Lime's adventures in the exotic underworlds of Europe would be adventures that had taken place before his fateful time in Vienna, before he had been killed. The show's dramatic opening set the stage:

The familiar "Third Man Theme" is being played by Anton Karas on the zither when, suddenly, a shot rings out and the music abruptly stops.

WELLES: That was the shot that killed Harry Lime. He died in a sewer beneath Vienna, as those of you know who saw the movie "The Third Man". Yes, that was the end of Harry Lime - but it was not the beginning. Harry Lime had many lives - and I can recount all of them. How do I know? Very simple: because my name is Harry Lime.

The issue of Lime's continuing existence thus resolved, the series could proceed.

The character of Harry Lime, at least in the 52 half-hour adventures produced by Towers of London, is a somewhat difficult one to describe - and, at first, he would seem to be someone to avoid at all costs. Lime is a rogue, a scoundrel, and an opportunist - an amoral character whose main interest in life is making money and living well, no matter what underhanded activity is required. A criminal? Yes. A thief? Most certainly. And, of course, a man who is not to be trusted under any circumstances. But, for all of this, Harry Lime is a fascinating character that listeners have always found undeniably attractive - an anti-hero whose life, in some ways, bears a close resemblance to that of Welles himself, who was not above a bit of chicanery or performing a disappearing act to avoid responsibility. Harry is, above all, a survivor - and, to his credit, he has a habit of taking advantage of those who would readily be taking advantage of him if they had the chance. Thanks to witty scripts, expertly performed by Welles and a virtual stock company of talented actors (Diana Foster, Frances Hyland, Suzanne Cloutier, and many others), the underworld activities of Harry Lime and his always-questionable associates make for great entertainment. Additionally, being produced in England (the shows were recorded in London's IBC Studios), "The Lives of Harry Lime" has an authentic continental flavor, with adventures taking place in such exotic locales as Paris, Rome, Venice, Tangiers, and the French Riviera. And in this ten-hour set, featuring twenty shows fully restored by Radio Archives from a series of original 16" transcription recordings, all of the nuances in the programs can be heard in sparkling high fidelity sound - an important consideration for a program chock full of plot details, overlapping conversations, and multi-layered sound patterns.

Listening to the program today, fans of Orson Welles will immediately note his signature on the series. Though he was not contracted to do anything more than appear in the programs, the ever-creative Welles could not resist the opportunity to become extensively involved in their production. If you hear passages of dialogue that remind you of  "The Mercury Theatre" or "Citizen Kane", you shouldn't be surprised; Welles frequently participated in the writing of the series, along with head writer Ernest Borneman. (One 1952 program - "The Man of Mystery" - would later evolve into the screenplay for "Mr. Arkadin", a film which Welles would write, co-produce, direct, and star in in 1955.) And if you hear a certain pacing or directorial style creeping in, that shouldn't surprise you either; Welles participated in the direction of many of the shows. In many ways, "The Lives of Harry Lime" is a distillation of all Welles had learned from his years on stage, on radio, and in motion pictures. His magnificent voice, his bravado, as well as his talent for effective radio production, makes the series as much an Orson Welles production as one produced by Harry Alan Towers - and, if you're someone who has enjoyed Welles' radio work in the past, that's definitely a benefit.

In the years following "Harry Lime", Orson Welles would continue to scrabble for the funds necessary to finance his lifestyle and his independent film productions. Much of the money made from his association with Towers of London would go into the budget for "The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice" (1952), a film on which he labored throughout the production of the radio program. The success of "Harry Lime" would lead Harry Alan Towers to star Welles in two additional syndicated radio series: "The Black Museum", narrated by Welles and based on Scotland Yard's famous "museum of crime", and a series of Sherlock Holmes adventures in which John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson would portray Holmes and Watson to Welles' villainous Professor Moriarty. All were successful and widely aired throughout the English-speaking world, ensuring that Welles would remain before the public eye - and ear - throughout much of the 1950s. And if many of Welles' later film productions failed to be funded, completed, or realize their full potential - more of those "if only's" again - we at least have his radio work to enjoy.

And for a man with a voice and a talent made for radio, that's enjoyment indeed.

Broadcast dates are for the first known broadcasts of these programs, which originated over Radio Luxembourg.

#1 Too Many Crooks
Friday, August 3, 1951 - 30:00 - Towers of London/Lang-Worth Syndication

#2 See Naples and Live
Friday, August 10, 1951 - 30:00 - Towers of London/Lang-Worth Syndication

#3 Clay Pigeon
Friday, August 17, 1951 - 30:00 - Towers of London/Lang-Worth Syndication

#4 A Ticket to Tangiers
Friday, August 24, 1951 - 30:00 - Towers of London/Lang-Worth Syndication

#5 Voodoo
Friday, August 31, 1951 - 30:00 - Towers of London/Lang-Worth Syndication

#6 The Bohemian Star
Friday, September 7, 1951 - 30:00 - Towers of London/Lang-Worth Syndication

#7 Love Affair
Friday, September 14, 1951 - 30:00 - Towers of London/Lang-Worth Syndication

#8 Rogue's Holiday
Friday, September 21, 1951 - 30:00 - Towers of London/Lang-Worth Syndication

#9 Work of Art
Friday, September 28, 1951 - 30:00 - Towers of London/Lang-Worth Syndication

#10 Operation Music Box
Friday, October 5, 1951 - 30:00 - Towers of London/Lang-Worth Syndication

#11 Golden Fleece
Friday, October 12, 1951 - 30:00 - Towers of London/Lang-Worth Syndication

#12 Blue Bride
Friday, October 19, 1951 - 30:00 - Towers of London/Lang-Worth Syndication

#13 Every Frame Has a Silver Lining
Friday, October 26, 1951 - 30:00 - Towers of London/Lang-Worth Syndication

#14 Mexican Hat Trick
Friday, November 2, 1951 - 30:00 - Towers of London/Lang-Worth Syndication

#15 Art is Long and Lime is Fleeting
Friday, November 9, 1951 - 30:00 - Towers of London/Lang-Worth Syndication

#16 In Pursuit of a Ghost
Friday, November 16, 1951 - 30:00 - Towers of London/Lang-Worth Syndication

#17 Horse Play
Friday, November 23, 1951 - 30:00 - Towers of London/Lang-Worth Syndication

#18 Three Farthings for Your Thoughts
Friday, November 30, 1951 - 30:00 - Towers of London/Lang-Worth Syndication

#19 The Third Woman
Friday, December 7, 1951 - 30:00 - Towers of London/Lang-Worth Syndication

#20 An Old Moorish Custom
Friday, December 14, 1951 - 30:00 - Towers of London/Lang-Worth Syndication

Average Customer Review: Average Customer Review: 5 of 5 5 of 5 Total Reviews: 6 Write a review

  0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 October 10, 2018
Reviewer: Tim Bell from Calgary, AB Canada  
Excellent series in perfect audio quality. Solid adult stories. Looking forward to sale (perhaps Black Friday) to get the rest.

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  0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 Lives of Harry Lime September 30, 2018
Reviewer: Elliott Gerstein from Pembroke Pines, FL United States  
Add this to the great multitude of of radio work that Orson Welles left for us. The Lives of Harry Lime was both well written and acted, and is deserving of a large audience.

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  0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 Very slick! September 25, 2018
Reviewer: Mr Daniel McGrath from Doncaster., South Yorkshire United Kingdom  
An outstanding production from Towers of London, with excellent sound design and music and performances which are, as I have said in the title, very slick. That is to say the whole thing has a marvellous flow to it.

There are occasions where the flow is a little too rapid, sometimes characters barely give each other time to finish their sentences, which can make parts of this difficult to follow if you're not glued to it. However despite this, the exploits of the nefarious Harry Lime are very entertaining, and Orson Wells walks away with the role... as he does with most.

I am full of admiration for the high-end production values achieved by Towers, and sincerely hope to see more of his work available to purchase from this crème de la crème of old time radio providers. I've shopped around, and I've honestly found nowhere better from which to buy old time radio.

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  0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 Harry Lime September 24, 2018
Reviewer: Don C from Hudson, FL United States  
Finally, after years of having some of these shows in such poor condition I didn't want to listen to them, a really great set comes along. The Welles ability to cram 20 words in the same amount of time it takes most actors to say"good Morning" can make listening a chore with some inferior versions. These are crisp, clean and very enjoyable. Some adventure, cheeky humor, and interesting twists make Harry Lime well worth the time.

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  0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 Fun Series - Amazing Sound February 28, 2013
Reviewer: Curtis Fukuda from Mountain View, CA United States  
Listening to Radio Archives' "Harry Lime" episodes were a revelation. Not since I first heard these radio dramas on KGO in 1961 have they sounded so clear. The audio fidelity was amazing. Finally, I could enjoy the wit and fun of the shows without the ear-torturing tin-can fidelity one usually encounters when listening to old time radio. If you want to hear what I mean, listen to the "Harry Lime" episodes on the Criterion Collection's DVDs of "Mr. Adkadan." A miserable experience of muffled fidelity. And Criterion is known for its eye for detail and restoration!

Kudos to Radio Archives! Their quality is terrific! I hope they continue to uncover masters of other classic shows.

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