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Johnny McQueen, leader of a clandestine Irish organization, has been hiding in the house of Kathleen and her mother, planning a hold-up that will provide his group with the funds needed to continue its activities. During the hold-up, things go sour: Johnny is wounded, cannot make it back to the hideout, and disappears in the back-alleys of Belfast. Immediately, a large-scale man-hunt is launched, and the city is tightly covered by the constabulary, whose chief is intent on capturing Johnny and the other members of the gang. Kathleen sets out in search of Johnny. Written by
Eduardo Casais <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Eddie Byrne plays two parts on opposing sides of IRA/British conflict. Irish audiences would recognize the actor behind the beard and assume a sub-plot. See more »
When Johnny's three friends are fleeing the police, they run into a little square with a grocer's shop. The shop and the windows above it are lit up. As they run past it, a blind in the left-hand upper window is pulled down. Later, when Dennis tries to draw the police away from Johnny, he runs past the same shop. It can be seen that the blind is now back up again. See more »
One of the most beautifully directed (Carol Reed) and photographed (Robert Krasker) films I have seen. The story revolves around the attempts of various citizens of Belfast to either aid, comfort or kill a wounded revolutionary gunman. A great deal has been written about this picture, concerning mostly its meaning, and I'm going to (heretically) skip over these issues and focus instead of why I think the film works so well as a piece of art rather than try to figure out what it's saying.
Essentially what Reed and Company have done is create a dark and gloomy urban landscape and made it seductive, even precious to us, by making us care about the people we meet there. Not that these are especially likable people. Many of them aren't, but they're presented fairly and, till near the end, without too much melodrama; and the way they're offered to us, which is to say their environments, vastly warmer and more enticing than the cold night streets the bleeding fugitive is staggering through, create a series of dramatic contrasts between the real world most of us have to move through, and the more imaginative, safer worlds of our homes, where we can retreat to, and imagine we are something else. The wounded Johnny McQueen can afford no such luxury on this bitter night, as each little warm nest offers, for a brief while, a ray of hope that this time he will come in from the cold for good, get warm, rest a little, have his wounds taken care of, and maybe even, if he gets really lucky, find himself a warm bed to sleep in.
Alas, this is not Johnny McQueen's night. Some of the people he encounters treat him decently enough for a while, till they figure out who he is, and then calculation sets in, and selfishness wins out in the end. The film is full of the kind of nocturnal yearnings anyone who has ever lived in a cold city feels as he walks the streets, whether to a pub or train station, home or restaurant, wondering what on earth he is doing out on a night such as this. One goes past this little rowhouse on a sidewalk, or that little walk-down cafe, and looks in the window, sees the people inside, and wishes one were there. Yet cold nights have their pleasures, and even rain has a beauty, as puddles reflect the light of streetlamps and rain-streaked windows make rooms that much more inviting.
Odd Man Out takes these moods, and the musings that accompany them, and raises everything to the max. Johnny isn't merely a man walking down a street, he's a hunted criminal. As we feel as he does, everything comes more intensely into focus than it would normally; as a phone booth can look like the most wonderful place in the world when the snow starts falling. The film makes us see and feel things as we seldom do in normal life, and the result is a kind of compulsive aestheticism that may well be accidental. Anything is or can be beautiful under the right circumstances, and all interior places are inviting when the temperature drops, one hasn't eaten in hours. I suspect that this wasn't the film-makers' intention, that they were hunting bigger game, looking for larger meanings, and the trappings of their picture were intended perhaps as incidental pleasures, or maybe not as pleasures at all. But it is precisely these things,--the visual tropes, not the philosophical and theological underpinnings--that I find most interesting and gratifying about the movie. In the end films have their own meaning, and this one makes me more attentive to the smaller things in life rather than the larger issues; to snow, rain, beer, to boots and overcoats, to the thin white blankets of snow that drape cities on winter nights.
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