Originally released in 1974, The Odessa File
is set in Hamburg a decade earlier. Its starting-point is the Nazi support network Odessa, and its involvement with Egyptian plans to destroy Israel. Peter Miller is a freelance journalist whose interest appears initially to be a professional one, before a personal dimension finally becomes apparent in his confrontation with SS Captain Roschmann.
Kenneth Ross adapts a well-honed screenplay from Frederick Forsyth's bestseller, and director Ronald Neame captures a typically Cold War sense of individuals and organisations playing out a scenario of political right and wrong. John Voight, long before he became a cameo star, makes a sympathetic lead, able to judge between the moral and material aspects of his profession. Mary Tamm is photogenic, if uninvolving, as his girlfriend, while Maximillian Schell is a convincing Nazi stereotype. Andrew Lloyd-Weber contributes a serviceable score, centred on the catchy "Christmas Dream" sung by Perry Como. Not a classic suspense thriller, but an enjoyable and thoughtful one.
On the DVD: the letterbox widescreen format preserves the 2.35:1 aspect ratio of the cinema release with decent if not exceptional clarity, with optional 16:9 TV enhancement. There are French, German, Italian and Spanish overdubs, and subtitles in 21 languages. Detailed filmographies for Neame, Voight and Schell are included and the theatrical trailer is to the point in a way they so rarely are these days. --Richard Whitehouse
Germany, the early 1960s. Investigative journalist Peter Miller (Jon Voight) has obtained a diary detailing crimes committed by SS Captain Eduard Roschmann (Maximilian Schell) when he was a WWII concentration camp commandant. Miller sets out to bring Roschmann to justice, but encounters trouble when he comes up against 'Odessa', a secret organisation dedicated to protecting former SS officers and advancing their position in the post-war world.