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Odd Man Out is nominally about an IRA (in all but name) leader who, after getting separated from his crew during an operation, wanders the streets of Belfast wounded, exhausted, alone and with a murder on his conscience. I say "nominally" because while James Mason's Johnny McQueen is a sympathetic, tragic figure, the film is more concerned with the character of the city itself, or really, its population. At every turn, McQueen meets people in a position to help him, turn him away, or turn him in (among them a young William Hartnell). What will they choose? Though it sometimes feels more episodic than I'd want it to be, it does paint the picture of a world where the citizens may well side with the terrorists against the authorities. Though no overt mention is made of the IRA, or of the issues surrounding the conflict in Northern Ireland, it's in the mind of everyone we meet. I grew a little listless in the second act, but the third really brought it home. A memorable ending to say the least. This is from Carol Reed, the same director who gave us The Third Man, so I don't need to add that it has impeccable black and white cinematography, do I?
Another knockout of an experience courtesy of Carol Reed. As in Reed's Fallen Idol, a deceptively simple plot is turned into an engrossing, powerful exploration of what makes us tick, and why we do the things we do.
Much to like in this one, including a great finale, but the subplot with the artist was so bizarre and exaggerated that it really turned me off the film.
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In 11 official lists
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This movie ranks #167 in Mark Cousins's The Story of Film: An Odyssey
This movie ranks #184 in BFI's 360 Classic Feature Films Project
This movie ranks #196 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #265 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Cinema
This movie ranks #283 in TSPDT's 1,000 Noir Films
This movie ranks #348 in David Thomson's Have You Seen?
This movie ranks #584 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown
This movie ranks #618 in The New York Times's Book of Movies
This movie ranks #647 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
This movie ranks #895 in The Criterion Collection
This movie ranks #943 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films