Anton Karas - The third man theme

First performance: 00/10/1965


Bruce performed the song only once:
1965-10-00 Reception Hall, Monmouth County, NJ
One show, with The Castiles the sole act on the bill. The 27 song titles of this show plus two titles that are illegible have been culled from a surviving inventory/setlist document that was originally in the possession of a member of The Castiles. This list is believed to have emanated from a wedding reception the band performed in the autumn of 1965. With the exception of "Sidewalk" (co-written by Bruce) all of the songs are covers of other artist’s material, with the most recently released song at the time being Sonny & Cher’s "I Got You Babe" (July 1965). The setlist includes numerous 1964-1965 'British Invasion" hits by the Stones, Yardbirds, Kinks, Zombies and Beatles - a clear indication of the kind of music the band was playing at teen gigs. The high proportion of 1950s ballad material in this particular show (sung by George Theiss, not Bruce) is likely the result of it being a wedding, with manager Tex Vinyard making sure his boys also catered to the older relatives in attendance. These include the G-Clefs’ "I Understand", Acker Bilk’s "Stranger On The Shore", Don & Juan’s "What’s Your Name" and Anton Karas’ "The Third Man Theme". There is no circulating audio of any of this performance . Frank Marziotti has recalled the bride's choice of song was the jazz standard "Moonglow".


"The Third Man "is a 1949 British film noir, directed by Carol Reed. One night after a long day of filming The Third Man on location in Vienna, Reed and cast members Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli and Orson Welles had dinner and retired to a wine cellar. In the bistro, which retained the atmosphere of the pre-war days, they heard the zither music of Anton Karas, a 40-year-old musician who was playing there just for the tips. Reed immediately realized that this was the music he wanted for his film. Karas spoke only German, which no one in Reed's party spoke, but fellow customers translated Reed's offer to the musician that he compose and perform the soundtrack for The Third Man. Karas was reluctant since it meant traveling to England, but he finally accepted. Karas wrote and recorded the 40 minutes of music heard in The Third Man over a six-week period, after the entire film was translated for him at Shepperton Studios. The theme became popular with audiences soon after the film's premiere, and more than half a million copies of "The Third Man Theme" record were sold within weeks of the film's release.

Other cover versions

  • Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians
  • Chet Atkins
  • Russ Conway recorded a honky tonk piano version 
  • Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass recorded a Latin-flavored go-go version
  • The Beatles mixed a piece of the tune into an unintentionally instrumental version of "From Me To You" after the microphones had failed and the song had devolved into a tongue-in-cheek vamp. Six years later, they recorded another impromptu version during a jam session in 1969, but neither version has ever appeared on any of their official albums.
  • The Band played it on Moondog Matinee (1973) [Capitol 93592], an album of song covers.
  • The Shadows recorded a version on their 33-1/3 rpm double LP Hits Right Up Your Street (1981) for Polydor Records.

Bruce on the artist