Odd Man Out Reviews

  • Feb 17, 2021

    Much like Carol's highly acclaimed later film The Third Man (to which it is often compared), Odd Man Out is a philosophical film set against a noir-thriller backdrop and a conflict-prone setting. However, this entry doesn't compare quite as favorably, thematically strong but using a surprisingly diverse and colorful cast of characters that actually seems to work against it at times, like the somewhat hamfisted Lukey the artist, who pops out of nowhere with little narrative justification. However, the film is overtly politically provocative, with an Irish nationalist protagonist that seeks to maintain his capability and authority while perhaps mellowing his violent tendencies in the wake of a prison sentence, pitted against a British inspector who is dedicated resolutely to the letter of the law rather than emotion or morality; notably, they never meet face to face. The film also presents a compelling portrait of Irish domestic life under English authority, with characters variously acting in support of the not-IRA (it is never explicitly stated, but the association is clear), in support of self-preservation by adapting to English power, or most often, more base self-interest. The film suffers a bit as a result of its many subplots and characters, who are often not quite explored sufficiently for the audience to really care about their well-being, and the transitions between them tend to be rough; the finale is a bit underwhelming as well, given Kathleen's relatively minor presence through much of the runtime (and dang, exposure means nothing to Johnny McQueen, apparently). Remains stylish, well shot (plenty of Dutch angles for The Third Man fans!), and ambitious. Fascinating that Reed received two BAFTAs for Best Picture for some of his late '40s thrillers (including this one), but would have to wait another 20 years before getting Best Director from the Academy for, of all things, Oliver! (4/5)

    Much like Carol's highly acclaimed later film The Third Man (to which it is often compared), Odd Man Out is a philosophical film set against a noir-thriller backdrop and a conflict-prone setting. However, this entry doesn't compare quite as favorably, thematically strong but using a surprisingly diverse and colorful cast of characters that actually seems to work against it at times, like the somewhat hamfisted Lukey the artist, who pops out of nowhere with little narrative justification. However, the film is overtly politically provocative, with an Irish nationalist protagonist that seeks to maintain his capability and authority while perhaps mellowing his violent tendencies in the wake of a prison sentence, pitted against a British inspector who is dedicated resolutely to the letter of the law rather than emotion or morality; notably, they never meet face to face. The film also presents a compelling portrait of Irish domestic life under English authority, with characters variously acting in support of the not-IRA (it is never explicitly stated, but the association is clear), in support of self-preservation by adapting to English power, or most often, more base self-interest. The film suffers a bit as a result of its many subplots and characters, who are often not quite explored sufficiently for the audience to really care about their well-being, and the transitions between them tend to be rough; the finale is a bit underwhelming as well, given Kathleen's relatively minor presence through much of the runtime (and dang, exposure means nothing to Johnny McQueen, apparently). Remains stylish, well shot (plenty of Dutch angles for The Third Man fans!), and ambitious. Fascinating that Reed received two BAFTAs for Best Picture for some of his late '40s thrillers (including this one), but would have to wait another 20 years before getting Best Director from the Academy for, of all things, Oliver! (4/5)

  • Sep 03, 2020

    Only the best movie ever made! Carol Reed and James Mason's tour de' force. is perfect cinema.

    Only the best movie ever made! Carol Reed and James Mason's tour de' force. is perfect cinema.

  • Mar 26, 2019

    Neutered melodrama in which real events could not be mentioned. Real things like the British invasion of Ireland, the IRA, the freedom fighters, the tan shirts who killed for the British during this time period, etc. This is the background of this movie, but all of this is swept under the rug, making this film a neutered attempt at drama from the beginning. This was probably done because this was financed by the British government.

    Neutered melodrama in which real events could not be mentioned. Real things like the British invasion of Ireland, the IRA, the freedom fighters, the tan shirts who killed for the British during this time period, etc. This is the background of this movie, but all of this is swept under the rug, making this film a neutered attempt at drama from the beginning. This was probably done because this was financed by the British government.

  • Oct 16, 2017

    Carol Reed was honing his skills with this pre-"Third Man" thriller\noir as many scenes in this film resemble scenes from "The Third Man". The film is a feast for eyes with its beautiful cinematography of a city at night as most of the action takes place during one stormy night with rain followed by snow. It was quite a brave film for its time also, I suppose, to depict an organisation that is considered controversial even now. The streets are full of police searching for a wounded chief of a local unit of the organisation. English noir at its best.

    Carol Reed was honing his skills with this pre-"Third Man" thriller\noir as many scenes in this film resemble scenes from "The Third Man". The film is a feast for eyes with its beautiful cinematography of a city at night as most of the action takes place during one stormy night with rain followed by snow. It was quite a brave film for its time also, I suppose, to depict an organisation that is considered controversial even now. The streets are full of police searching for a wounded chief of a local unit of the organisation. English noir at its best.

  • Jul 16, 2017

    This is a gorgeous movie. If you like a classic noir athmosphere, you'll love it. And James Mason is simply beautiful. He did tragic heroes very well.

    This is a gorgeous movie. If you like a classic noir athmosphere, you'll love it. And James Mason is simply beautiful. He did tragic heroes very well.

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    Alec B Super Reviewer
    Jul 01, 2016

    Despite the disclaimer in the opening scene, this really is a political thriller. The movie is very clearly exploring how people pick sides in violent ideological conflicts and ultimately finds it all to be pointless as most of the characters choose based on entirely selfish and pragmatic reasons.

    Despite the disclaimer in the opening scene, this really is a political thriller. The movie is very clearly exploring how people pick sides in violent ideological conflicts and ultimately finds it all to be pointless as most of the characters choose based on entirely selfish and pragmatic reasons.

  • Jun 08, 2016

    A few too many assumptions were made about the audience's knowledge of this Irish social uprising for me to get fully engulfed here. However, the conversation it has about faith, money, and societal position is powerfully relatable. On top of that, the beautiful yet simple black-and-white imagery makes it one of the most gorgeous noirs I've ever seen. The way the weather and the character's feelings simultaneously turn from warmly personal to bitterly cold is the definition of skillful filmmaking.

    A few too many assumptions were made about the audience's knowledge of this Irish social uprising for me to get fully engulfed here. However, the conversation it has about faith, money, and societal position is powerfully relatable. On top of that, the beautiful yet simple black-and-white imagery makes it one of the most gorgeous noirs I've ever seen. The way the weather and the character's feelings simultaneously turn from warmly personal to bitterly cold is the definition of skillful filmmaking.

  • Mar 18, 2016

    Picaresque film that ebbs and flows. Well-made but at times ebbs for too long. Strangely, Mason though central to the plot does not occupy the screen. It is those around him the film concentrates on. F.J. McCormick steals the show as Shell and Robert Newton also as an artist wanting to catch the look of death on canvas.

    Picaresque film that ebbs and flows. Well-made but at times ebbs for too long. Strangely, Mason though central to the plot does not occupy the screen. It is those around him the film concentrates on. F.J. McCormick steals the show as Shell and Robert Newton also as an artist wanting to catch the look of death on canvas.

  • Mar 04, 2016

    It's finally happening: Director Carol Reed is getting the recognition he deserves. Of course, it's only 60 or 70 years too late to make a difference in his career. And of course, I'm only referring to the small (but sometimes deafening) community that goes nuts over things like auteurship, black and white cinematography, and the Criterion Collection. But damn if it doesn't make me feel all tingly inside. Reed is typically only ever given much credit for The Third Man, and even then, it's faint praise with many (erroneously) believing Orson Welles was the source of the film's creative vision. No matter. I know Reed is a master, and it's starting to feel like the rest of the film world is realizing this, too. Ironically, I thought all that before ever seeing Odd Man Out, which might well be his best and most interesting film. Taking place over the course of one cold, wet night in a Belfast that's both unnamed and full of character, we're introduced to Johnny McQueen (James Mason) and his fellow members of the "Organization," a generic stand-in for the IRA. Johnny's been holed up in an Organization safe house belonging to a woman, Kathleen (Kathleen Ryan), who pines for him and cares little for his politics, since escaping prison months earlier. He's about ready to execute a robbery of a mill with a handful of his best men, but some of them think their leader's isolation has left him soft and unable to do what's necessary for the good of the Organization. Their hunch proves right. It all goes to hell when a security guard stops Johnny, who's too slow to allude the guard. He takes the man's life accidentally after first taking a bullet to the shoulder. Bleeding and getting weaker by the minute, he holes up in a bomb shelter while the town's lawmen blanket the area. Meanwhile, the Organization plots a rescue mission for their hero, who's barely lucid and stumbling through the town's dark alleys, and a whole town full of bystanders ask themselves what side they're on and how much it's worth helping this gravely injured man. The film works on a number of levels, but I was most taken with the way it examines the differing motivations of the men and women of this town. Where they're concerned, the film treats its main character as a MacGuffin of sorts. Johnny could have been a sick dog or a bag of cash, and watching these men and women fight with each other, not to mention their shoulder-ridden angels and demons, about what's right and what's practical would still be fascinating. The highlight of these characters is easily Lukey (Robert Newton), a drunk painter who can't get his subjects' eyes quite right. He wants to turn a dying Johnny into his masterpiece, and his quest to do so is the film's foray into the surreal. A totally unexpected and truly bizarre turn, it's what will make or break the film for many viewers. I dug the hell out of it. Some of the tamer interactions our sluggish and battered hero have are with a pair of sisters, both amateur nurses of sorts, who are quite surprised to find a gun on Johnny's person, a cab driver who leaves Johnny in a bathtub, and a young couple trying to find a dark and quiet space for some alone time. Each treats Johnny differently, and in turn, his injury forces him to react differently to each one, wearing varying degrees of exhaustion on his face, in his eyes, all over his body. There are times at which he hallucinates interactions with people, with paintings. Despite being a criminal and a killer, he's very sympathetic. He's extraordinarily regretful about his actions and seems like he'd welcome death at times. James Mason gives an outstanding performance. It's probably the role of the character within this film that prevents this work from being regularly named among the actor's best stuff, but that's an error I hope time corrects like it has Reed's and this film's reputation. Being that it's a Carol Reed noir, the deliciousness of Odd Man Out's cinematography and set design shouldn't surprise many viewers. Its Belfast is a shadowy hell for Johnny that one imagines might look quite quaint and approachable on another day (or in another director's hands). The zither is the only thing separating this from The Third Man on a craft level, but even then, Odd Man Out's score (courtesy of William Alwyn) is appropriately moody. The film goes out of its way to be apolitical, but that's far from a knock against it. On the contrary, it allows us to focus on the story's natural tension, the wild characters, and the moral compass that's always changing as new supporting characters get introduced every scene or so. It's a marvelously entertaining film that ranks among my most cherished discoveries during my six odd years as a critic. johnlikesmovies.com

    It's finally happening: Director Carol Reed is getting the recognition he deserves. Of course, it's only 60 or 70 years too late to make a difference in his career. And of course, I'm only referring to the small (but sometimes deafening) community that goes nuts over things like auteurship, black and white cinematography, and the Criterion Collection. But damn if it doesn't make me feel all tingly inside. Reed is typically only ever given much credit for The Third Man, and even then, it's faint praise with many (erroneously) believing Orson Welles was the source of the film's creative vision. No matter. I know Reed is a master, and it's starting to feel like the rest of the film world is realizing this, too. Ironically, I thought all that before ever seeing Odd Man Out, which might well be his best and most interesting film. Taking place over the course of one cold, wet night in a Belfast that's both unnamed and full of character, we're introduced to Johnny McQueen (James Mason) and his fellow members of the "Organization," a generic stand-in for the IRA. Johnny's been holed up in an Organization safe house belonging to a woman, Kathleen (Kathleen Ryan), who pines for him and cares little for his politics, since escaping prison months earlier. He's about ready to execute a robbery of a mill with a handful of his best men, but some of them think their leader's isolation has left him soft and unable to do what's necessary for the good of the Organization. Their hunch proves right. It all goes to hell when a security guard stops Johnny, who's too slow to allude the guard. He takes the man's life accidentally after first taking a bullet to the shoulder. Bleeding and getting weaker by the minute, he holes up in a bomb shelter while the town's lawmen blanket the area. Meanwhile, the Organization plots a rescue mission for their hero, who's barely lucid and stumbling through the town's dark alleys, and a whole town full of bystanders ask themselves what side they're on and how much it's worth helping this gravely injured man. The film works on a number of levels, but I was most taken with the way it examines the differing motivations of the men and women of this town. Where they're concerned, the film treats its main character as a MacGuffin of sorts. Johnny could have been a sick dog or a bag of cash, and watching these men and women fight with each other, not to mention their shoulder-ridden angels and demons, about what's right and what's practical would still be fascinating. The highlight of these characters is easily Lukey (Robert Newton), a drunk painter who can't get his subjects' eyes quite right. He wants to turn a dying Johnny into his masterpiece, and his quest to do so is the film's foray into the surreal. A totally unexpected and truly bizarre turn, it's what will make or break the film for many viewers. I dug the hell out of it. Some of the tamer interactions our sluggish and battered hero have are with a pair of sisters, both amateur nurses of sorts, who are quite surprised to find a gun on Johnny's person, a cab driver who leaves Johnny in a bathtub, and a young couple trying to find a dark and quiet space for some alone time. Each treats Johnny differently, and in turn, his injury forces him to react differently to each one, wearing varying degrees of exhaustion on his face, in his eyes, all over his body. There are times at which he hallucinates interactions with people, with paintings. Despite being a criminal and a killer, he's very sympathetic. He's extraordinarily regretful about his actions and seems like he'd welcome death at times. James Mason gives an outstanding performance. It's probably the role of the character within this film that prevents this work from being regularly named among the actor's best stuff, but that's an error I hope time corrects like it has Reed's and this film's reputation. Being that it's a Carol Reed noir, the deliciousness of Odd Man Out's cinematography and set design shouldn't surprise many viewers. Its Belfast is a shadowy hell for Johnny that one imagines might look quite quaint and approachable on another day (or in another director's hands). The zither is the only thing separating this from The Third Man on a craft level, but even then, Odd Man Out's score (courtesy of William Alwyn) is appropriately moody. The film goes out of its way to be apolitical, but that's far from a knock against it. On the contrary, it allows us to focus on the story's natural tension, the wild characters, and the moral compass that's always changing as new supporting characters get introduced every scene or so. It's a marvelously entertaining film that ranks among my most cherished discoveries during my six odd years as a critic. johnlikesmovies.com

  • Aug 20, 2015

    Part crime drama, part psychological thriller. Expressive chiaroscuro illuminates and darkens this physical and spiritual journey to the depths of a divided city and a divided soul

    Part crime drama, part psychological thriller. Expressive chiaroscuro illuminates and darkens this physical and spiritual journey to the depths of a divided city and a divided soul