Odd Man Out

1947 thriller

Rating: 18/20

Plot: Following a prison escape that takes place before the movie begins, Johnny McQueen, a member of an underground Irish organization, helps plan a robbery with the other members of his group. Apparently, the group needs money to buy matching hats and belt buckles. The robbery doesn't go exactly as planned, and Johnny is injured and abandoned by his friends. He wanders the streets of the hopeless city searching for help and trying to evade the police.

I doubt this is the "most exciting motion picture ever made!" like the above poster claims. Johnny McQueen doesn't turn into a Hulk-like creature either like the above poster might suggest. Here's a movie poster you just can't trust. Regardless, this is still one hell of a movie. It's a case where there aren't really any stand-out scenes that blow you away, but everything adds up to something that will. Carol Reed is a maestro, and this is a story shot by a wizard. I love the look of the city, similar to the look of some of The Third Man's settings, where the streets look oily and shadows loom. Poor McQueen (you've got to love movies that force you to root for or sympathize with bad people) doesn't exactly move through the city--he spirals. You've also got all these shots with insignificant action going on in the background, but it adds to the texture of the locale. Reed uses some camera trickery to show the dizzy perspective of our protagonist on the way to the robbery and later when bubbles from a spilled beverage start talking to him. I also like other minor details--some graffiti that reads "Skibbo is here" behind McQueen, a sign that prohibits Jitterbugging, a scene where a bartender maneuvers through an excited crowd by spinning thrice. The acting is terrific universally, but I especially like W.G. Fay, Robert Newton, and whoever played Kathleen's mother as the priest, the painter, and Kathleen's mother respectively. Most of the characters, a lot of them quirky, aren't in the movie for very long, but they leave an impression and help nail down the themes about selfishness and alienation in a crowded and hopeless world. On the surface, you've got a man-on-the-run suspense thriller, but it's what's below that surface that makes Odd Man Out so great.

Cory recommended this one.

1 comment:

cory said...

I'm really glad that you liked this one. Mason is terrific, and the atmosphere and style you mention are perfect. There is a great deal of tension that builds up as he moves closer and closer to the inevitable. A 17 for me.