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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars

on 4 September 2017
Odd Man Out. Don't be put off by the Spanish language cover, the films are in the original English. Odd Man Out is one of the best films of all time. ALL the actors in this are terrific, probably because they were all stage trained actors even James Mason is out-shined, eg Robert Newton as Lukey the artistic genius searching to catch the light of wisdom in a dying man's eyes, Dennis O'Dea as the Police Inspector with decency in him and Elwyn Brook-Jones as the brooding Tober a man too noble for the current age. Like all the best film adaptations of books, this somehow manages to improve on FL Green's novel, which, really is, saying a lot. If you like the film you'll like the book.
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on 20 December 2016
One of the great British films. Superb acting by James Mason and Abbey Theatre actors. It is a film to own and go back to.
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on 5 May 2017
one of the great British films
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on 14 October 2016
have to visit the Crown pub in Belfast after seeing this movie, hardly changed !.
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on 27 November 2014
Still worth watching, showing the life and death of a wounded I.R.A. leader trying to escape, and people with whom he is linked.
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on 26 April 2017
Another very good film set in the North of Ireland. It is directed by Carol Reed uncle of the late actor Oliver Reed. It stars Robert Newton and Irish actor Dan O'Herlihy who starred in the RoboCop films.
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on 19 June 2012
The story goes that by 1947 James Mason, then the biggest actor in Britain, was frustrated at what he perceived as the mediocre quality of British films, and that it was due to this that he was unable to break out of Britain and gain exposure in Hollywood. Then he saw the screenplay for Carol Reed's 'Odd Man Out', took the lead part of Johnny McQueen, played it to perfection (now widely considered his best-ever performance), and duly ensured Hollywood came calling.

The films quickly starts off with a simple story of an Northern Irish gang who carry out an armed robbery. The leader of the gang, McQueen is rusty after spending some months in prison, and when he falls from the escape car he finds himself lost in the streets of Belfast. It would be wrong to go into anymore detail of the story, but watching this film today, some 65 years after it was made, it really does seem that everything fell together just right here. Mason is flawless, but the supporting actors are perfectly cast, from his lover (Kathleen Ryan), to the eccentric painter Lukey (Robert Newton). Even William Hartnell, the original Doctor Who, has a solid role. If you look closely in the tram scene, you'll even see Steptoe himself, Wilfrid Brambell, in his first (non-speaking) appearance. The thing that really makes 'Odd Man Out' stand out as one of the best British films is the virtuoso direction by Carol Reed. Though he would become more known for The Third Man, released two years later, some of the imagery here is supreme. We get McQueen, late in the film, suffering and hallucinating as the paintings come off the wall and begin to circle the room, coming to rest in front of him. Similarly, we see McQueen staring into the bubbles in his drink, when the people in his life appear in these bubbles. This moment was noted in The Story of Film: An Odyssey as an obvious influence on a similar moment in Martin Scorsese's 1976 classic Taxi Driver. But it's the atmosphere that Reed generates throughout that really sets this apart from British films at the time, it's dark, claustrophobic, and edgy.

Considering the patchy nature of Blu-ray releases of films of this era, I didn't have particularly high expectations for this release from Network. Happily, I needn't have worried. In the restoration notes on the inside cover it states that the video transfer was taken from a 35mm dupe negative, after being compared to the original nitrate fine grain master held by the BFI, and discovering that the dupe negative had a better, sharper overall image, and suffered from less damage. It's obvious that considerable care has gone into the restoration here - there is very little damage visible, but it's very pleasing that this has resulted in one of the best Blu-ray transfers of any 40s film yet released. The only subtitles on the disc are English, and it is Region B-locked.

To complete this excellent package, we get two James Mason-related features, 'Home James', when Mason returns to Huddersfield to look at changes to the town, and a 1972 interview with Granda Television looking at his career. Finally, there's a 24-page booklet inside with essays on the film and its background, as well as some publicity from the time of its release. These booklets are getting more popular now it seems, and hopefully they will continue to accompany films such as this as they really contain some critical, insightful analysis of the film.
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on 10 August 2015
The Criterion issue on 2 discs -- DVD in my case -- is excellent, with a fine print of the movie on Disc One and some very interesting "special features" on the second disc. If you can, you might try to see it in relation to John Ford's "The Informer," also set in Ireland at a time (though a different one) of political trouble. Reed's 1947 movie owes a good bit stylistically and thematically to Ford's 1935 one. There are also debts to French and German movies of the 1930's that are addressed in the special features commentary. The basic similarity is that in both movies, the protagonist, not long out of jail, takes action that causes a death, and one could argue that, different as the circumstances are, in both cases the protagonist causes the death to meet some basic needs of his own and not for any ideological or political reason. The actions result in both men going on the run, so to speak, and trying to avoid capture, while at the same time being psychologically and maybe ethically disturbed by what they have done. Stylistic similarities are the representation of the city, especially in nocturnal images, with lots of shadows, deep back-and-white contrast, and a sense of the city as a kind of warren or maze, almost a trap, from which the protagonist tries to escape. Reed's film, to an even greater extent than Ford's, I think, makes the audience aware of its style -- every shot seems very deliberately framed, and engrossingly, I might add. However, to the credit of Reed and his actors, the awareness of style doesn't get in the way of the reader's engagements with the characters and their plights. Sometimes, it's desperation that draws us in; at others, it's an odd, almost absurd kind of humor. The ostensible issue that the plot engages us in, again like "The Informer," is a simple one -- can the protagonist get out of the city and away from his pursuers? But the plot, like that of any good film noir, is just the excuse on which to hang issues of psychological breakup and existential threat.

It's odd, however, that the political dimension of the story is played down. Johnny McQueen (James Mason) is the head of what in the movie is referred to merely as "The Organization," and nothing in the movie makes it certain that the organization isn't a criminal enterprise as opposed to a political one. It has usually been taken to refer to the IRA, but there's nothing in the movie about Irish politics and history to warrant that identification. I wondered if the "depoliticizing" of the story was a sop to the British censors -- but there's no way that the organization, whatever it is, is glorified or its violence endorsed. In fact, Johnny, we learn right from the start, has begun while in prison to have doubts about violence -- it's ironic that he's strapping on his gun around the time that he reveals this to his girl, Kathleen (Kathleen Ryan). But he doesn't come across as a tough guy -- he's reflective and even sentimental, and that's partly his undoing, and Kathleen's attraction to him has none of the dangerous allure of the bad boy for the tough girl. Be all that as it may, the absence of politics throws all the interest on the existential aspects of the story and serves to suggest that Johnny's situation has a kind of universal human interest. His conscience is focused on his having killed, with no attention given to the context of or possible reasons for the killing or the robbery that was the occasion of the killing. The effect is to make Johnny's consciousness seem almost inhumanly "pure" -- or, if you're historically minded, implausibly limited. For myself, that's where I have to suspend my disbelief where this movie is concerned. Once you start thinking about the complex history that lies behind an event like the robbery in the context ( a divided Ireland, c. 1940), the film can lose its purchase on you and seem oversimple. If you head down that road, all you're left with is style. But partly as a response to style, I DON'T head down that road, and then my interest in what the style is there to express reawakens.

The oddest feature of the movie is the part where Johnny finds himself in the studio of the artist Lukie (Robert Newton), who wants to paint him. Lukie is such an extravagant character, and Newton (remember his Long John Silver?) is himself an extravagant actor, that he almost seems to belong to a different kind of movie. Still, the idea of the artist as the medium required for penetrating the soul of man in extremis has thematic plausibility here, and it's in that scene that Mason delivers HIS most histrionic moment -- a surprise in a movie in which the protagonist, up to that point, hasn't had much to say at all. And that's another odd feature of the film -- Johnny, once he is wounded, is remarkably passive. It's not clear that he cares about being saved, though he doesn't want to be found by the police. Rather, he just seems not to want to be a burden to anybody. Is he paralyzed by guilt? He is weak through loss of blood? Both, perhaps? Kathleen wants to save him and is scouring Belfast looking for him, but it's not clear that he wants any more than Kathleen's presence -- and at the end of the day (literally -- the movie is about the events of a single day and ends at midnight), it's not clear that Kathleen wants any more than just to be in Johnny's presence. The ineffectiveness of Father Tom (W. G. Fay) gives the ending a very different character from the ending of "The Informer," where Gyppo (Victor McGlaglen) ends up in a church asking for forgiveness. And yet Frankie's mother's absolution of Gyppo ("Sure, you didn't know what you were doin' ") perhaps applies to Johnny too.

Anyway -- if you've read this far! -- good performances all round, not only from Mason but from a stable pf good Irish actors including the young Cyril Cusack, Dan O' Herlihy, and W. G. Fay himself. This was Fay's last movie, for he died in 1947, having been involved forty years earlier with Yeats, Synge, and Lady Gregory in the establishment of the Irish National Theater (later, the Abbey). Take a look too at the proprietor of the bar. I thought I recognized him from long ago. I wondered, was it Peter Cushing? But no. He's William Hartnett, who went on to become the original Doctor Who.
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on 4 November 2016
Only parts of this excellent film were actually shot in Belfast – but it all looked pretty authentic to me.
Johnny McQueen (James Mason) is the head of a post-war terrorist organisation, having granted himself a little unofficial parole following the imposition of a 17 year jail sentence for gun-running. He and his gang decide to carry out an armed robbery at a mill which goes badly wrong when McQueen is shot and he murders an employee who tries to stop him. Separated from his gang, McQueen wanders off and what happens thereafter shows a miss-match of the people whom he encounters – drunks, eccentric Englishwomen who want to help, hinder or, in the case of Lukey (Robert Newton, in top, roaring form) a half-barmy painter who wishes to immortalise McQueen’s death throes in oils. But there are others: the priest, keen on saving McQueen’s soul, McQueen’s girl-friend (a wonderfully understated role by Kathleen Ryan) and the police inspector (the always excellent Dennis O’Dea) who displays compassion as well as a steely resolve to feel McQueen’s collar.
Excellent acting, all-round – no-one who appears on screen, no matter how small their role, falters.
The script by F.L. Green and R.C. Sheriff is highly credible, Robert Crasker’s photography grittily captures a wet and snowy Belfast, the antics of the street urchins are, I assure you, very believable and Robert Beatty’s fight on the tram is one of the most realistic screen fights I’ve ever seen.
If Carol Reed didn’t pat himself on the back for this one, he should have done – an outstanding post-war British film.
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on 13 November 2012
This movie is excellent, because it's got a great story and the performances are brilliant, especially James Mason as the wounded IRA leader Johnny McQueen. In my opinion, James Mason's performance is one of my favourite performances and after he finished doing this movie he became well known in Hollywood. The supporting actors are also great, including Lukey who was played by Robert Newton (Long John Silver) and Shell who was played by Irish actor FJ McCormick, who died after the film was completed. The best scene of the film is when Johnny is in a small dark room and see's visions of paintings. This scene is very good because its clever how its made for its year and it has great cinematography. Even though this movie is over 60 years old, it's still good today and I think this film is a lot better than Carol Reeds "The third man" because its got a better story and the actors stand out more.
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