Odd Man Out (UK, 1947)

mAEgzk1Fd2RHUFQ7gjpFT98qW6qDirected by: Carol Reed. For some reason, Carol Reed has really been eluding me—I saw Third Man years ago, but every time I rent it to re-watch, and every time I take out Night Train to Munich, and every time I take out Odd Man Out, I never get around to watching it, and I have to return it. Now that I’ve finally caught up, I’m glad I did. What a fantastic film. I had no memory of Carol Reed being so…European in his directing style. All of that subjective hallucination stuff to get James Mason’s POV and to establish his delirious mental state before the robbery, all of that stuff was a complete surprise, and really fun to look at. It was like a mash-up of Godard and Murnau or something. But then there were other parts of the film, the suspense chase stuff, that felt more like a straightforward Hitchcock jam. And then other parts, the sprawling cast, everyone-in-the-village gets a line type thing, and the brief pub fight, that made it feel a little bit John Ford. Really, by the last half of the movie, where the leading guys are caught by police, and James Mason is a vegetable, the whole emphasis shifts to these other people who weren’t there before, and it’s Kathleen Ryan who comes in and provides the film with its unexpected centre. And in a way, I think that the whole thing doesn’t quite do it for me, the ensemble cast, the scattered, diffuse action. It’s an interesting story, how the whole town washes its hands of him, but also refuses to collaborate and turn him in outright, instead just passing the buck, and maybe that’s an interesting social case study. The ending is very interesting—foregoing the happy ending, she knows they can’t get away, and she turns the gun on the police. I thought that this meant she was going to kill the two cops who are there and they get away, which at the time would be a totally murky, ambiguous ending, because she would have “damned” herself in the eyes of God, and totally cut ties with her home forever. And I think I would have liked that better than the ending that did happen. But oh well. She puts in a completely incredible performance, the saving grace of the movie really, and it’s a good thing because as much as I love James Mason, he barely coughs out five lines of dialogue in the latter 90 minutes of the movie, and it’s that great vocal delivery that makes Mason so amazing. I’m not sure I’d call this a great film (even though at the top of the review, I just called it a fantastic film), but it’s undoubtedly interesting, and especially so when taken in the context of films about Northern Ireland the Troubles. Now, I’d better make a point of catching up on the rest of good old Carol Reed.

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One response to “Odd Man Out (UK, 1947)

  1. Pingback: List of Judgements, Anno Domini 2016 | Offhand Reviews·

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