The Odessa File Reviews

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Super Reviewer
May 20, 2011
Frederick Forsyth's novel, The Odessa File, adaptation have a terrific work of the Ronald Neame, that make the audience, together with Jon Voight's character, Peter Miller, discover, all that involved. Tense, chilling, fun and extremely good writing. Fresh.
Super Reviewer
May 4, 2009
A yawner.
Super Reviewer
½ October 5, 2009
Saw it as it was highly applauded by most of the viewers, but unfortunately, it failed to meet my expectations & proved to be just an average fare.
Super Reviewer
August 25, 2008
Great film. Bit dated now but brillaince of the writting says it all.
February 5, 2011
This could have been a really great film but it falls flat. The story is and interesting concept and Forsyth knows how to craft a thriller but this adaptation is lacking. The casting is different to say the least. They went all German except for the lead and although Voight is good and does passable German it just resonates weirdly. The film is from my favorite era of filmmaking and the film has some of the conventions from this era but even that doesn't make the film better. Ultimately the film falls way short of The Day of the Jackal and maybe that is where it comes up lacking for me.
January 3, 2011
Good movie, but not great. It would have been better if it had not insisted on having the Peter Miller character tie together all of the loose ends through his narration.
½ September 17, 2010
In 1963, on the eve of the assassination of JFK, a young German free-lance journalist is given the diary of an elderly Jewish man who has just committed suicide. The diary provides details of atrocities that took place in a concentration camp during WWII where thousands of German Jews were murdered.

After reading the journal, the journalist sets off on a personally appointed mission to find the ex-commandant of the camp. He crosses paths with Simon Weisenthal, the hunter of German war criminals, and Simon helps him in his quest. During their meeting the journalist learns of ODESSA, a secret organization of ex-SS soldiers, and so his adventure begins, and he seems to rush to meet all manner of danger as an inner drive forces him to continue.

Though the movie is now quite dated, as is the soundtrack, sometimes even driving me to distraction, the story pulled me along, and I found it to be a top-notch example of suspense.

The storyline is excellent, the acting is good, and the music is so-so, even so, the movie was, for me, nearly a 5-star experience.
June 21, 2014
An intriguing story that suffers from some inconsistent performances and pacing issues.
February 8, 2014
A good cold war neo-Nazi suspense adventure with actors and locations that give it a genuine cold and raw feel. The pacing is a bit off at times but Voigt looks very determined and Schell is chilling as the old camp commandant. Scored by Andrew Lloyd-Webber.
½ February 17, 2013
Flatline from beginning to end.
½ May 4, 2012
Exceptionally tedious so-called thriller that fails on almost every conceivable level. Andrew Lloyd Webber's score must rank as one of the worst to ever grace the big screen, sounding clunky and completely out of place whenever it invades the soundtrack, and should surely have tipped off anyone hearing it that he should never be allowed near a musical instrument again. The transitions between scenes are almost always far too abrupt and instead of granting the movie a swift pace they end up killing any sort of tension or interest the plot might develop. The decision to have some actors speak in German while the majority merely adopt accents is baffling and adds to the illogicalities of the film. Jon Voight is somehow able to move around without making any noise whatsoever, which enables him to outwit the world's most incompetent assassin and later to walk through a stone-floored castle completely undetected. The story also requires him to make a phone call at a crucial moment that no person with half a brain would ever try. In addition to the phony accents, many actors are outright bad and deliver their lines in a flat monotone that removes all emotion from their performances. Certain developments in the plot are not only incomprehensible but also utterly unrealistic, even allowing for the necessary implausibility inherent within most films of the thriller genre. Overall, a dire movie with very little to recommend it.
½ January 2, 2013
Though it is on the long side (does drag in areas) and could have been more original it is still well acted, deals with a deep subject very well, has a good score and a good ending.
October 7, 2012
Couldn't They Have Just Gotten an Older Guy?

Germany has a complicated relationship with the Holocaust. For obvious reasons, of course. But it is true that a whole generation of Germans pretty much wanted to sweep the whole thing under the rug and pretend it had never happened. This is in part because that generation is not sure how culpable it is, all things considered. Did they see? Did they know? If they didn't, should they have? How much responsibility do they bear for what happened? And, in the end, it's why Germany did not do all it could to go after those responsible, because more people were responsible than could ever have been punished. Of course, Germany also had its own troubles at the time. By the time the occupation was really over after World War II, most of those who had been responsible for what happened during the war were dead. Those few who were left were now so old that not everyone was comfortable with prosecuting them.

An old man, Salomon Tauber (Towje Kleiner), has gassed himself, leaving behind only a diary. It is brought to the attention of Peter Miller (Jon Voight), a young German reporter. The diary tells of the atrocities committed by Eduard Roschmann (Maximilian Schell), the SS officer who ran the Riga concentration camp. Peter then meets the old man's friend, Marx (Martin Brandt), who tells him that Tauber believed he had seen Roschmann only weeks before, in Munich. Peter tries to go through legal methods to track down Roschmann, but he is rebuffed. He then goes to Austria to meet famous Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal (Shmuel Rodensky), who tells Peter about ODESSA--[i]Organisation der ehemaligen SS-Angehörigen[/i], or the Organization of former SS Members--an organization intended to keep SS members from prosecution, generally with forged identities and smuggling them to countries where they won't be extradited. With that discovery, Peter gets in far deeper than he expected would ever happen.

There is no little debate as to whether or not ODESSA really existed. Wiesenthal insisted it did, various historians have said that it was never a single organization, and the US War Crimes Commission never denied that it existed. I lean toward the belief that a lot of men were making a lot of connections and a lot of plans. There were some who really wanted to raise a Fourth Reich, one of the declared goals of the supposed ODESSA, but I think a lot of them just wanted to disappear and evade prosecution. I doubt most of them thought they'd done anything wrong, but they knew that their view was a minority after the war. Some of the people, I'm sure, had just drifted into positions where their ordinary morality was subsumed under what was going on around them and what their orders were, but I think most of the ones who disappeared were sociopaths. I think you have to be in order to do that level of thing to other people and not see that there's something wrong with it.

I had a hard time getting into the story here. Okay, I get that the probably-Mossad guys need an Aryan to infiltrate ODESSA with, but was Jon Voight really the best choice for that? You kind of have to do a bit of math for this, but bear with me. When the movie was made, Voight was thirty-six. The movie was set in 1963 and 1964; it starts the day Kennedy was shot in Dallas. So if you assume that, at the beginning of the movie, the character and the actor were the same age, that means the character was born in 1927, meaning that he was twelve at the start of the war and eighteen when it ended. The SS member he disguises himself as is explicitly said to be ten years older than he, and that's a problem. However, it also means that Peter Miller would have definitely served in the tail end of the war himself, yet he's also implied to be too young to remember what the war was really like. This means they've cast someone pretty much exactly the wrong age.

Probably the weirdest part is the score, composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber. And that's truthfully the only weird part, that it was composed by him, but once you know that, you can't stop comparing it to other works of his. At least, not if you know music. It's understated, by Andrew Lloyd Webber standards, but you can still hear certain musical tricks of which he is fond, and they just don't work here. Someone also decided that what the movie really needed was a Christmas song sung by Perry Como. So Andrew Lloyd Webber teamed up with Tim Rice and André Heller and provided us with one. Now, I am generally torn when it comes to his music; I like some of it and really dislike others. This isn't the worst of his music by a long shot. He wasn't quite as huge then as he has since become; this is after [i]Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat[/i] and [i]Jesus Christ Superstar[/i]--and a failed version of Jeeves and Wooster--but before [i]Evita[/i] and so forth. However, it's practically the only movie score he ever wrote, and I'm not sure why they hired him.
August 14, 2012
Taut, dry, engaging, and very, very German. In essence, this not-quite unbelievable political thriller is composed of Jon Voight's German accent, on-location German landscapes, and Frederick Forsyth's tangible, realistic Nazi conspiracy. A bit of a sleeper as far as action and pacing are concerned, but well worth watching on a rainy day, or when one is in the mood for some Cold War nostalgia
February 16, 2012
Good story that had a surprising ending. Maxmillian Schell was genius.
December 16, 2011
I'm not sure why this doesn't have a higher rating. It's an absolutely brilliant film. The only criticism that could possibly be leveled at this picture is that it takes a little too long to get going. We don't get any really serious action until the halfway mark, but at that point it kicks into high gear. The twist in the end is great. I can't say enough good about this film. Forsyth's meticulous research and attention to minute detail once again elevates this story from "just another spy flick" to serious conspiracy thriller. The first half is a bit of chore, but push through it and you'll be richly rewarded.
Super Reviewer
May 20, 2011
Frederick Forsyth's novel, The Odessa File, adaptation have a terrific work of the Ronald Neame, that make the audience, together with Jon Voight's character, Peter Miller, discover, all that involved. Tense, chilling, fun and extremely good writing. Fresh.
½ August 8, 2011
The Odessa File is an exciting film with plenty of tension, action, and entertainment. It is about a freelance journalist who searches for the Nazis after reading the diary of an elderly Jewish man who committed suicide. Jon Voight and Maximilian Schell give excellent performances. The screenplay is well written with tons of thrills. Ronald Neame did a great job of directing this movie. I enjoyed watching this motion picture because of the drama. The Odessa File is a must see.
½ July 1, 2011
I love 70s conspiracy thrillers. Three Days of the Condor, The Marathon Man and The Parallax View are some of my favorites. The Odessa File fits into this lineup, but is definitely the weakest of the bunch. I blame the directing. Ronald Neame made The Odessa File near the end of his career and it shows. It lacks the raw edge you'll see from the generation of directors that came out of the 70s. Just imagine if Pakula helmed this.
½ June 9, 2011
A good conspiracy film. Old but still good.
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