Hailed for its sensitive treatment of a difficult subject, "Odd Man Out" is a tale of ordinary people trapped in the web of Northern Ireland's troubles. Irish rebel Johnny McQueen (James Mason), maimed and bleeding, weaves... more » an escape route through Belfast's seedy underground while each of his comrades falls prey to bounty hunters and police in director Carol Reed's (The Third Man) classic film noir.« less
Best & Most Heartbreaking Film of All Movies I've Ever Seen
Thomas R. Dean | Morristown, New Jersey USA | 04/09/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the greatest film I've ever seen. No one I know (of the dozens I've urged to see it) has ever disliked it, and it has become for others, their favorite movie too. It is really a story of all people: in their struggles on earth, their increasingly less purposeful attempts to survive, their deaths, the things they love, their religious faith transcending their deaths. It is also the story of the varied reactions of people toward one such person, a wounded, dying I.R.A. gunman on the run on the streets of Belfast or Londonderry in the late 1940s. The cinematography, the breadth of social classes (and ages) shown, the symbols, the suspense, the tenderness and callousness, are fascinating. The religious insights of the gunman, and of the grandmother of the girl who has a crush on him (and goes out into the Irish alleys to search for him) and of the police chief searching for him, are extraordinarily deep for a movie that is also edge-of-seat suspense. I've read that this is James Mason's favorite among the movies he did. The director Carol Reed's better known movie, "The Third Man" with Orson Welles, was not quite as broad or as deep as this. I note that every single person reviewing this movie has given it the highest rating this system allows; (how many other movies are AVERAGING 5 stars?) I would submit that it is the greatest movie ever made."
Carol Reed's Masterpiece, Mason's Career Surge
William Hare | Seattle, Washington | 03/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Belfast is a city of two faces. One city consists of bustling streets and energetic people with ready smiles. The other was that presented in this gripping film, that which the world media has focused on with increasing attention with the passage of time, the city of conflict where tensions accelerate to the boiling point and explode into violence."Odd Man Out" is a 1947 release which represents Carol Reed's first of three successively acclaimed international masterpieces. It was followed by "The Fallen Idol" with Ralph Richardson and Michelle Morgan and "The Third Man" with Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli and the moving appearance in the last thirty minutes by Orson Welles. James Mason was also greatly assisted career-wise in his sensitive role as a young Nationalist underground leader living the last day of his life in a state of excruciating pain. Mason had earlier come to prominence in the 1945 release "The Seventh Veil" with Ann Todd. This role completed his momentum swing into the top ranks of international cinema stardom."Odd Man Out" and "The Third Man" have been selected as representative of British film noir at its finest. Reed uses shadows to compelling effect, while Robert Krasker, who would win an Oscar for Cinematography in "The Third Man," handled the camera with equally consummate skill in "Odd Man Out." The Reed-Krasker team present compelling silhouettes of characters who cross the path of Mason, whose face reveals the requisite painful sensitivity as underground gang leader Johnny McQueen.The film begins with the clock in the main square striking noon and ends at the ring of midnight. Mason, despite the urgings of his faithful girlfriend Kathleen Ryan and members of his gang, decides to participate in the holdup of a mill, from which the underground group hopes to obtain funds to live and continue pursuing political objectives. Ryan knows Mason's condition well. Since his escape from prison he has been confined to the same residence for six months, prompting her to intercede in an effort to let subordinates carry out the job without him, but Mason remains stubbornly in charge. The robbery is a directive from the very top of the organization and he intends to personally direct it, he emphatically tells a subordinate.On the ride to the mill a haziness is visible, a clever camera ploy indicating that Mason is subject to blurred vision and potential fainting spells. The robbery is staged in silence, after which, on the way out, Mason becomes groggy. While his subordinates wait in the car for him, Mason's delay costs him as a guard surfaces from the street. In the ensuing confrontation Mason kills his adversary, but is shot in the arm in turn by the dying guard.The group is able to pull Mason back into their car, but as it negotiates a rapid turn at a nearby corner he falls out. From that point, to the end of the film, Mason is reduced to wandering. He walks in rain and snow. His future is subject to potential barter by local dealmaker Cyril Cusack, who tries to obtain money from the poor parish priest, Father Tom, played by W.G. Fay, in exchange with providing information on Mason's whereabouts.At one point Mason is taken inside a residence and ministered to by two women. When the husband of one of the women comes home and learns that they have Mason, then wanted for murder, in their midst, he demands that he be put out into the street. When he sees the emaciated Mason with his sensitive expression, however, he weakens to the point of giving him a generous shot of whiskey before the dying man staggers back onto the street.One of the dramatic high points of the film is the stirring performance rendered by Robert Newton, who plays a crazed painter. When a badly weakened Mason arrives at the local pub the proprietor uses Newton to dispose of the underground political leader wanted for murder. He knows that if word gets around that he threw Mason back onto the street that he is in for trouble from Mason's loyal followers. Since the wild Newton had previously caused damage in the pub, the proprietor informs him that he will call the police if he will not get rid of the dying man. Newton takes him to his flat, where he delightfully begins painting him, longing to create an enduring work of a man in the final throes of death.Before the film ends the loving Ryan, who does not want to continue her existence on earth without Mason, figures out a way to end his misery and hers at the same time. When the police, with the omnipresent Cusack and the local priest trailing along, finally reach Mason, Ryan fires a shot, provoking the police to fire back. Ryan and Mason are both killed instantly.This is a film that presents struggle and conflict in a city plagued by religious strife through the prism of one man and his last painful day on earth as he interacts with those around him. These are the shadowy sketches of people reacting to conflict in their quest to endure. The novel by F.L. Green was brought to the screen with full force fidelity by the novelist and R.C. Sherriff. It is a film whose message has only broadened with the passage of time and the ongoing efforts to achieve peace in Northern Ireland. The suffering of Belfastians in their strife was vividly presented with laudable good taste, with the minimum of violence, and the maximum of stirring passion. It represents a jewel from one of the cinema's true geniuses, Carol Reed, operating at the top of his form."
A Sad, Great Film By Carol Reed
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 04/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a powerful, tragic movie which is hard to forget. It tells the story of Johnny McQueen (James Mason), an IRA chief in Northern Ireland. He was sentenced to 17 years for robbery but broke out and now has planned to rob a mill to steal money for the cause. He leads three other men and things go wrong. He shoots and kills a clerk and is shot himself. During the chaotic escape he falls from the getaway car and is left on the street. He's seriously injured and probably is bleeding to death. All that evening and night, increasingly dazed and weak, he struggles to find someplace to go and rest.
Odd Man Out is really two stories. One is McQueen's. The other is that of Kathleen Sullivan (Kathleen Ryan), the young woman who loves him and is determined to find and save him. She knows he's terribly hurt and that he'll be hanged if he is caught. She won't let that happen. Despite her Catholic faith and the sympathetic counsel of her elderly priest, she'll shoot Johnny and then herself if she must.
Those Johnny McQueen encounters during the cold and sleeting night may want to help him or may want the reward for his capture, but none want to give him shelter. A prosperous, fat madam welcomes Johnny's team and learns where they left Johnny. Then she turns them in and listens as they're shot down in front of her establishment. Two sisters find Johnny lying in the road and take him into their house. They bandage him but cannot keep him, and send him out again into the rain. A crazed painter (Robert Newton), finds him in a bar and takes him to his studio, where he wants to paint the dying face. All the while the police are slowly narrowing their search. At last Kathleen finds him. He is so dazed he can only know that he is with her now and is safe. As they stand against an iron fence, police with flashlights move toward them. Kathleen has a gun, but she finds she cannot use it to take Johnny's life and then her own. So she does what she must. She fires two shots, knowing the police will shoot down both of them.
So is this film Carol Reed's attempt to tell a story of redemption or the power of love or the fragile strands humans rely upon? Who knows. I'm not comfortable analyzing a film like Odd Man Out. All I know is that it is bleak, sad and great.
The DVD has a first-rate picture but it is bare bones, with only chapter stops. It was shortly after this film and, a year earlier, The Seventh Veil, that Mason left Britain for Hollywood. He always seemed to me to be one of the best film actors to come along. At the end of his life, in his last role in a movie, he starred at 76 in The Shooting Party. The film's DVD transfer is awful, but Mason was just as subtle and magnetic an actor then as he was in Odd Man Out."
An unlikely fantasy
A. C. Walter | Lynnwood, WA USA | 10/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"ODD MAN OUT portrays life in an unnamed city in Northern Ireland via the unlikely narrative structure of the episodic fantasy--that is, in the tradition of ALICE IN WONDERLAND and THE WIZARD OF OZ; it is quite possible, in fact, that it influenced the Jim Jarmusch film DEAD MAN. James Mason plays Johnny McQueen, an Irish freedom fighter who is seriously wounded early in the film. As he wanders about the city in delirium, Johnny becomes a sort of talisman sought after by several eccentric characters for their own purposes, and he is reduced (or is it, elevated?) to the status of fatalistic symbol. The film presents us with an unlikely, outrageous, and irresistible portrait of an Ulster community, filmed by Carol Reed with delicious visual style. Every frame bursts with some brilliant image--the contrast of light and shadow, stunning camera angles, ingenious special effects, and snow in the night. In my opinion, the film rates slightly above Reeds THE THIRD MAN and slightly below his underappreciated THE FALLEN IDOL."
A superb indictment of the selfishness of mankind
Bomojaz | South Central PA, USA | 11/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Magnificent in just about every way. James Mason plays an Irish rebel in Dublin who attempts to rob a factory to finance his cause, but gets shot in the process. For 12 hours (noon to midnight) he wanders the city, a very wanted man, bleeding to death, seeking the help he desperately needs but never gets.
Everyone he encounters either refuses to help out of fear, or will help but only for their own personal gains. This roll call of ignominy includes an egotistical painter who is only interested in capturing his death on canvas, a priest who is only interested in saving his soul before he dies, a man who will sell him out to the highest bidder, and even the woman who loves him who chooses to die with him than live a life alone.
Mason's big scene where he chastises his fellow man for lack of charity borders on the melodramatic (the camera angle makes him appear like Christ on the cross), but it's a powerful indictment all the same. James Agee doubted that a city at night had ever been better photographed, and he's probably right. It's a powerful, moving film, and one not likely to be forgotten once seen."