10 Comments

  1. Hey Tony,

    Funny how I just watched this film too. It’s so great and I love the supporting characters in the Odyssey of Mason’s quest to reach safety. Robert Newton is such a great character actor. Love him.

  2. Leo Parascondola

    Reed’s Euro-trilogy (Belfast, London, Vienna): Odd Man Out, The Third Man, The Fallen Idol. Newton’s performance as the eccentric (mad?) artist almost overshadows Mason and Ryan. Among the greatest noirs, but also one of the best films from the 1940s.

  3. Sam Juliano

    “Odd Man Out however presents us with a protagonist whose morality is more problematic.”

    Certainly a distinct point of contrast with the other Reed masterpiece, the monumental THE THIRD MAN, and your featured phrase “the poetry is in the visuals” is magnificent. This is as beautifully-written a review that this supreme cinematic classic has ever received from anyone, and I applaud your masterful word economy, which makes every word and every sentence count. Mason does give one of the finest performances ever recorded on film, and the great Robert Krasker (yep, Australian by birth!) is one of the most celebrated DPs of all-time. There is an undercurrent of spirituality in the film, and there is some heavy-duty moralizing, but the subject matter does warrant it to a degree, and Reed is far more interested in visuals and atmosphere, and the textures are hallucinatory. Excellent point about the denouement paralleling French poetic realism. There are some echoes of John Ford’s THE INFORMER here too in theme and style, though Reed’s film is more poetic as you so well assert in this superlative review!

  4. Jon, yes quite a coincidence!

    Jon and Leo, Newton was over the top and I must admit I am ambivalent about his showy performance. Peter Bradshaw in his review said: “Robert Newton’s cameo as a crazy artist is strained, and among the genteel stage-Irish accents, only the street urchins actually sound as if they’re from Belfast”. Though I never queried the accents myself…

    Thanks Diandra!

    Thanks Sam! Agree with you on The Informer, and I will need to re-acquaint myself with that particular Ford.

  5. Frank Gallo

    Great review. I loved James Mason in ‘North by Northwest’ but he has never been better than he is in this classic film. The mood and atmosphere seem even more important than the themes, as this is cinema.

  6. Thanks Frank. Mason here reminds me of his role in Ophuls’ The Reckless Moment where he plays another ambivalent character. He has a certain flair for these conflicted protagonists.

  7. cigar joe

    You neglected to mention the original score by William Alwyn. That score, as it builds to the inevitable dénouement adds to that “tragic pathos that echoes not so much film noir but more the fatalism of French poetic realism”.

    Its one of my favorites.

  8. Lee

    Nice article Tony. I’m working my way through the lists of noirs. This one was very good in the first half – very tense and atmospheric. However, I thought the film was a bit overlong & wandered a bit in the second half. I thought the scenes with the crazy bird guy and the artist were overlong and should have been trimmed to keep the film lean and taut. The bird guy in particular, just crippled the film for me. Still, the film had some nice weird visuals towards the end, and a climax that does pack a considerable fatalistic wallop. So, overall, a good film with a lot going for it, that falls short of greatness in my opinion, for the reasons noted above. I saw Reed’s Third Man 11 years ago during my first infatuation with Noir, and wasn’t all that impressed, but I need to re-watch that one.

  9. Thanks Lee. Yes, the second half of Odd Man Out is marred by the meandering scenes that don’t feature the protagonist and the absurd artist grates. For me The Third Man is not only a great noir but one of the greatest films ever. Have another look.

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