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The Odessa File
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Odessa File More at IMDbPro »

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36 out of 43 people found the following review useful:

Excellent climax to the film.

9/10
Author: Stephen Stratford (stephen@sp-stratford.demon.co.uk)
22 January 1999

Although it deviates from the excellent book's plot, The Odessa File is, in my opinion, Jon Voight's best performance. A good script is handled very well by the actors. Like all Frederick Forsyth's books, the film conveys the possibility that all the events in the film were completely accurate to real events. The ending of the film, when we find out the reason for Jon Voight's character tracking down the former Nazi, is a superb moment of suspense.

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33 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

Marred only by one thing

8/10
Author: pamsfriend from New Jersey
11 August 2007

Sometime between 1979 and today, filmmakers have lost the ability to tell a suspenseful story, to flesh out characters, so that today we see more style than substance, more gore and mayhem than plot development.

The Day of the Jackal, Marathon Man, Eye of the Needle, The Boys From Brazil and others will be labeled boring by many here because they must wait for something to happen. A typical example from Odessa is the reunion scene. Voight infiltrates the meeting of old German soldiers, make that old devoted Nazis, gathering in a beer hall. He snaps a photo of the speaker, shouting what sounds like the words of the pre-war Deutschland uber Alles. One man comes and begins his eviction from the hall. In the next scene we see him nursing his wounds, which are far more serious than the pushes we see. Tell me that today we would not witness a brutal beating punch by punch, kick by kick.

Films then used violence to advance the plot, such as the "Is it safe?" interrogation in Marathon Man. Seventies films are no shorter than today's masterpieces, but so much more intricate plot is compressed into their time frame.

Three Days of the Jackal is a perfect telling of a Forsyth book; we never become involved with the characters but watch in fascination. Here we follow Miller (Voight) giving us a horse in the race. I have reservations about the final confrontation with Schell and Miller's motivations but I have none about the story in general.

Only in the score does Odessa fall short; the music sounds almost if it was added as an afterthought and does nothing to enhance moods or foreshadow scenes. Worse, the score seems the beginning of a pattern that continues to this day where in some scenes the music is the main character. Only the bier-hall singing of the old Nazis sounds appropriate.

I rated the film 8 of 10.

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36 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

engrossing, suspenseful drama

8/10
Author: blanche-2 from United States
25 July 2005

Jon Voight does an excellent job in this intriguing film about a reporter searching for a war criminal who escaped Germany after World War II with the help of an organization called Odessa. His investigation leads him to Simon Wiesenthal and to a group of Israelis who train him to infiltrate Odessa. The historical setting is 1963 Germany, at the time of the Kennedy assassination This is a very suspenseful film with wonderful performances from the supporting cast as well: Mary Tamm, Maximillian Schell, Maria Schell, and Derek Jacoby.

For me, The Odessa File has always had an old-fashioned feeling to it -it was made in 1974, set in 1963, and almost seems like it could have been made in the '40s. Truly an excellent film.

As a bit of trivia no doubt already mentioned, Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote the music for the film, which I frankly found rather intrusive.

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29 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

" One nation, one people, one leader!"

8/10
Author: Graham Watson from Gibraltar
16 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

You could do a lot of worse things than spend two hours indulging in the ODESSA file. This 1974 production was the second of Frederick Forsyth's trilogy of books that were put onto the big screen in the 70's. Although made in1974 the events meant to be are depicted are supposed to be about 10 years earlier. ODESSA was an organization created by Nazis to help former high profile Germans and members of the SS escape accountability after Germany's defeat in WW II. You would be given false papers, new identities, passports etc and many of them made their way to South America . The most popular destination was Argentina, whose Peronist regime made no secret of it's admiration for Hitler and the Nazi way of thinking. (This only made Argentina's defeat at the hands of the British in the 1982 Falklands war that much more satisfying)! It's a docu/thriller movie lead by actor John Voight who had been elevated to stardom by "Midnight Cowboy" and "Deliverance". He plays Peter Miller a struggling Journalist who was looking to land the big story and is financially supported by his girlfriend Sigi who works at one of Hamburg's nightspots.

After a routine check on a story of a suicide he is given a diary and documents from the deceased who as it turns out was survivor of a Nazi concentration camp. He takes his own life after seeing one of his former tormentors Eduard Roschmann a former camp commandant swanking it up in and exclusive restaurant in Hamburg without a care in the world. What drives him over the top is when he reports this he finds little sympathy from the West German authorities who seem either indifferent and try to fob him off.

After reading an horrific and graphic account of the mans experience at the hands Roschmann, a sickened Muller embarks on his own investigation. He soon discovers the real motives for the ODESSA organization and delves further into this only to the disdain of friends and loved ones who fear for his safety. Soon he also gains the attention of members of the ODESSA organization who don't approve of his meddling. He manages to sneak into a reunion for former soldiers from a crack Panzer division, but unfortunately draws attention to himself. The beating that is handed out as well as an attempt on his life only emboldens him to carry on now knowing he is on to something? He also arouses the attention from members of MOSAD Israels equivalent of the CIA, whose job is to track down former Nazis and dispose of them. After satisfying the Israels that he is not a Nazi, they help him try to infiltrate ODESSA under an alias so he can track down Roschman who by this time he has is own personal score to settle. While reading the former survivors account it appears Roschman may have had something to do with his fathers death who at the time was a decorated soldier in the German army during WWII.

So it's off to the races, can Muller get to Roschmann and find out who else is in ODESSA's secret file before they get to him! You get the impression that this was inspired by the capture of Eichmann and the wish to track down Joseph Mengelie a notorious Nazi physician. It's important that in the 1960's and even 70's many former Germans from WWII were still alive at this time and many of them not only escaped justice but managed to wrangle cushy numbers in business, industry and even in government under new identities. How widespread this really was I'm not sure, I suppose many lower level Nazi party members did manage to start up their careers again although those who committed the real acts were probably better off trying to get out of the country, where I suppose ODESSA came in, a sort of "club south America" for Germans wanting to get away from it all.

The scene in the beer hall during the reunion is a real party piece. Still reveling in nostalgia about the glory days where Germany was feared and respected as they swept all before them, the frenzied gathering is finishes off by singing a rousing rendition of one of the German army's marching songs. In another scene when Muller visits Simon Weisentile (a well known Nazi hunter who made it his life's work to bring them to justice), he tells Muller that money was not a problem for ODESSA. Under the streets of Zurich were paved with gold, presumably gold and other stuff that was looted by the Germans from their Jewish victims, how ironic! Over all not bad movie , Voight was convincing as a German being blond and blue eyed and Maximilian Schell delivers a powerful performance as the arrogant and sadistic butcher Roschmann. It's certainly worth a watch!

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32 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

effective thriller

7/10
Author: Ron (secretron@aol.com) from Brooklyn, NY
15 September 2001

Just a sad reminder of how gripping thrillers were a dime-a-dozen in the 70's, as compared to the suspense-bankrupt modern day. 2 hours of entertainment & not one single explosion!! Jon Voigt once again establishes himself as one of the best actors of the decade in his principal role as the tenacious journalist bent on revenge. The film & its subject matter could have easily been more confusing, and tho some scenes defy logic (a supposedly lethal hit man is reduced to dunderhead status in the film's pivotal fight scene), the story steams ahead fluidly til the climactic denoument. This is Voigt's movie, but the supporting cast is effective in small roles, especially Maximillian Schell in his few scenes & Mary Tamm, as Voigt's along-for-the-ride girlfriend who also happens to be very easy on the eyes. And look, there's Derek Jacobi, long before he met Kenneth Branagh, in a tiny, yet pivotal role! Forge, Derek, forge!! Not as good as "The Conversation" but infinitely better than any movie starring Sharon Stone or Steven Seagal (or both). 7 out of 10.

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16 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Intriguing and tense movie full of suspense from the beginning to the end

7/10
Author: ma-cortes
31 August 2010

Good and exciting film plenty of tension , action and entertainment . This intelligent picture is packed with historic events , tension , hectic intrigue and the suspense is maintained throughout . The deeds of the movie start in Hamburg, 1963 . An elderly Jewish commits suicide , leaving a newspaper that falls into the hands of an attractive and intrepid journalist named Peter Miller (John Voight). The German Peter goes to a Nazi convention celebrating the ¨Division Siegfried¨ where is detained. After that, he discovers a secret organization named Odessa that may expose some former Nazis and the unthinkable crimes of cruelty , torture and mass murder carried out by the captain of the SS Eduard Roschmann , commandant of the notorious extermination camp in Riga (Latvia). It seems that Roschmann (Maximiliam Schell) survived the defeat of the Nazis, and that lives in some place of South America under a fake identity . Miller starts then a relentless pursuit , decided to meet him . The journalist isn't alone, as he collaborates with the famous Nazis hunter Simon Wiesenthal ; in addition to receive precious aid by the Secret Service agents (Peter Jeffreys) of Israel , the Mossad , that try to avoid some rockets full of biological virus to be taken by Nasser , President of Egypt .

Excellent film based on one the first successes of famous novelist Frederick Forsyth , a bestselling author . This stirring picture is full of suspense , tension , thrills and is very entertaining . The film's intrigue snowballs toward an exciting final. Extraordinary casting , all of whom give admirable acting as starring Jon Voight ("Midnight Cowboy") who plays perfectly as dynamic journalist ; brilliant the British Derek Jacobi , the German Klaus Lowitsch , and of course the Maximilian Schell's interpretation who steals the show as haughty Nazi.

We see this sensational film not only by its action and intrigue but also by the historical deeds that are well depicted and related to Simon Wiesenthal and concentration camps as Riga and Flossenburg where was executed Admiral Canaris . Even only for that reason the film worthwhile seeing . Spectacular musical score fitting to action by nowadays very famous Andrew Lloyd Weber , including a lively and jolly Christmas song at the main and ending titles . Furthermore , colorful and atmospheric cinematography by classic cameraman Oswald Morris .

The motion picture is compellingly directed by Ronald Neame . Ronald's smoothly persuasive direction attracted reception by the public and was a success at the box office . Neame was one of Britain's best cameraman in the 1930s and 40s, working for David Lean, later he turned to direction in 1947 with 'Take my life'. His biggest hits was undoubtedly 'The Poseidon adventure' , 'Scrooge' , Gambit' , 'The prime of Miss Jean Brodie' , and 'Odessa file' . Rating: Splendid and excellent, above average .

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13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Nasty Nazis are just beneath the surface

9/10
Author: headmaster-1 from United Kingdom
28 September 2005

A great story, which combines twisted plots, chase scenes and the deadly combination of history and the present. One is utterly compelled to wonder exactly how fictional this story is, and also how such an organisation could operate beneath the veneer of respectability. There is no doubt that the motives of all the chief characters are distinct, and the plot forces one to watch as Muller tries to break into the seemingly impenetrable organisation. His journey to find the answers he is looking for, and all due to stopping on the side of the road for a couple of minutes to listen to the radio makes one also wonder what else is out there that should be revealed, but due to cover ups and apathy hasn't been!

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18 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Great film UNTIL the climax

Author: emily (emily85647@aol.com) from New Jersey
14 May 1999

I love this film. Jon Voight's German accent is excellent, as is his acting. The film is great, but falters at the ending, which could have been developed more carefully. The big secret is interesting, though.

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16 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Underestimated masterpiece

10/10
Author: sgold-2 from United States
3 June 2005

Movie-making at its best. A wonderful performance from John Voight (who remembers Joe Buck?) as a journalist "son" of Germany who receives a report written by a survivor of a concentration camp that committed suicide fueled by the horror of discovering a secret society conformed by high ranking former Nazi officials. "Voight's" struggle to investigate and uncover such an evil organization (Odessa) is the theme of this film that will keep you at the edge of your seats! The versatility and talent of Mr. Voight as a 1st line actor is evidenced here. After enjoying this film you will wonder where has all good movie making gone. Buy it or rent it....you will not regret it :)

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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

remarkable in many ways, including historical facts

9/10
Author: cmeneken-1 from United States
28 January 2011

This film is remarkable on many levels, but two stand out: 1) the realistic portrayal of the events in Riga, wherein thousands of Jews were massacred by the Nazis, and 2) the fact that the "butcher" of these events in the film was not a fictional ploy but an actual SS officer named, as in the film, Rosschmann. The latter point is of interest, since the film provoked a world wide hunt for this murderer, who was located in South America, and who then fled to Paraguay where he died in 1977. The first part of the film is near perfect, though it gets more melodramatic in the latter part, with a number of unconvincing dramatic events added. One example: the journalist(Voight)attacking the burly professional hit man sent to kill him, and then actually winning a hand to hand struggle with him.

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