Re: RARA-AVIS: Harry Lime, Hard-Boiled Hero?

From: Bill Hagen (
Date: 14 Sep 2000

Two particularly Greene touches made Lime's character memorable, I think. First, his attractiveness, what Greene in the novel describes as his
"boyishness," the irrepressive spirit of play. Believe in the novel, the narrator (Calloway) says something to the effect that in Lime, evil had the face of Peter Pan. Second, there was the philosophy of evil, the sense of the Overman at play in the great "temptation scene" atop the ferris wheel, where Rollo/Holly is asked whether his conscience couldn't put up with stopping several of the dots (people) from moving for a handsome reward,
"free of income tax." Of course, Welles embroidered on the philosophy with the famous cuckoo clock speech.

The boyish spirit linked with the amoral philosophy, sold to us by one of the greatest actors at his peak, burns him in memory. Can't imagine a reborn Lime dashing around in a radio series...but I can't blame the media types for trying.

Bill Hagen

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