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Carol Reed
James Mason, Kathleen Ryan, Robert Newton, Cyril Cusack, FJ McCormick, William Hartnell
FL Green and RC Sherriff

A wounded Irish nationalist leader attempts to evade police following a failed robbery. Action takes place in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Not Rated.

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
English LPCM Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 116 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 4/14/2015

• “Template for Troubles” Featurette
• “Postwar Poetry” Featurette
• “Home, James” Documentary
• “Collaborative Composition” Featurette
Suspense Radio Show Episode 460
• Booklet


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Odd Man Out [Blu-Ray] (1947)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 8, 2015)

Not long before he directed the legendary Third Man, Carol Reed created another film in the thriller vein. 1947’s Odd Man Out takes us to Northern Ireland and introduces us to Johnny McQueen (James Mason), the leader of an underground resistance organization.

An escapee from prison, Johnny holes up at the house of his girlfriend Kathleen Sullivan (Kathleen Ryan) and plots a robbery with his cohorts. This crime intends to raise funds for their cause.

These activities don’t go as planned, as Johnny gets wounded and finds himself adrift in the city. We follow Johnny’s attempts to get back to safety and complications that arise along the way.

While the justified fame of Third Man will bring viewers to Odd Man Out, I’m not sure how many will find satisfaction with it. No, I don’t expect the same level of greatness from Out, but even with lowered expectations, it seems like a moderate disappointment.

Part of the problem comes from the cast – or the lead, at least. Even if we ignore Mason’s inability to pull off a convincing Irish accent, he just seems wrong for the part. Always suave and genteel, Mason doesn’t make a lot of sense as the rough and tumble Johnny. He plays the wounded man fairly well but still seems like an odd choice.

Not that Mason ends up mattering that much, as Johnny does less and less as the movie progresses. Some of that stems from Johnny’s wounds; with serious injuries, the character nears death and can’t muster much action.

However, Mason largely becomes less of a factor because of the movie’s construction. On the surface, Out sounds like it’ll be a taut cat and mouse fugitive movie, but the opposite occurs. Instead, it acts more as allegory that uses Johnny as a symbol, someone who represents the desires and whims of others.

Because of this, Out comes with a less than precise narrative. Our ostensible lead goes missing for long periods of time, as instead the movie focuses on a variety of supporting roles and their reactions to Johnny and his situation.

This trend becomes more dominant as Out progresses. The first act remains largely plot-driven but after that, it tumbles into the proverbial rabbit hole.

If that trend works for you, it seems likely you’ll get a lot out of the film. As for me, I can’t quite embrace the wobbly narrative as much as I’d like. While I think Out musters some interesting moments, the inherent looseness of the tale leaves me somewhat detached from the proceedings.

My main problem revolves around the length of time Out abandons its plot. It throws out narrative elements in bits and pieces but strays to focus on its supporting characters, a crew that gets quirkier and quirkier as the movie goes.

Others love this, but it doesn’t do much for me, largely because of the aforementioned escalating level of strangeness. The movie’s second half spends an awful lot of time with greedy homeless man Shell (FJ McCormick) and perverse artist Lukey (Robert Newton), characters who tend to be less than compelling. We also get a lot of Kathleen, a rather milquetoast personality.

Again, I understand that Out wants to use the character to explore various sentiments, but I don’t think it satisfies much of the time. The structure simply becomes too frustrating, as the tale meanders to the point where I just want it to finally conclude.

On the positive side, Reed brings a terrific visual sensibility. In this age of relentless shakycam, it feels revelatory to see a movie that boasts such meticulous composition, and the imagery always seems vivid and impressive.

I just never find myself as engaged in the story as a feel I should be, though. With a mix of good scenes and that stunning cinematography, Odd Man Out boasts quality components, but that sluggish narrative keeps me at arm’s length.

The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio C+/ Bonus B-

Odd Man Out appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though I’ve seen many better transfers for old films, this one was more than acceptable.

Sharpness varied but was usually quite nice. Although some shots tended to be a little fuzzy, overall definition was very good; the majority of the movie displayed solid delineation. No issues with jaggies or moiré effects occurred; I noticed no edge haloes or artifacts.

The black and white photography looked impressive. Dark tones were deep and rich, and the image exhibited good contrast. Shadows lacked concerns, as they boasted fine clarity. In terms of print flaws, I saw occasional marks and some blotches. Nothing major occurred, but I saw a few more defects than I might’ve expected. That said, this felt like a “B-” image given its age.

As for the LPCM monaural audio of Out, it was competent for its era. Speech could be a bit sibilant at times and lacked natural tones, but the lines remained intelligible and reasonably clear.

Music showed some harshness, as the score tended to the trebly side of the street, but these elements were acceptable for their vintage. The same went for effects, which seemed reasonably distinct but not memorable. A little background noise emerged on occasion. Though the audio lacked special qualities, it remained fine for something from 1947.

As we go into the set’s extras, we begin with Template for Troubles. The 23-minute, 50-second program offers an interview with cinema scholar John Hill. He discusses the historical elements behind the film’s look at the situation in Northern Ireland as well as the source novel and its adaptation, narrative/character elements, sets and locations, visual/film noir choices, cast and performances, and related areas. Hill gives us a decent collection of insights.

During the 15-minute, 46-second Postwar Poetry, we get comments from film historians Peter Evans and Charles Drazin, writer/film historian Tony Rayns, and filmmakers Guy Hamilton and John Boorman. The program looks at the novel and its translation, character and narrative thoughts, cast and performances, cinematography and visuals, influences, and the director’s impact. “Poetry” complements “Troubles” with another good set of thoughts about the film.

From 1972, Home, James lasts 53 minutes, 45 seconds and offers a look at actor James Mason. We follow him to his childhood home of Huddersfield and learn about that location. This doesn’t teach us much about Mason’s career but it gives us an interesting enough look at a particular form of English life.

For a look at the movie’s score, Collaborative Composition runs 20 minutes, 40 seconds and includes notes from film music scholar Jeff Smith. He discusses composer William Alwyn and his work in Odd Man Out. We find an enjoyable look at the movie’s score.

Recording in 1952, Suspense Episode 460 goes for 29 minutes, 23 seconds. It adapts Out and brings movie actors James Mason and Dan O’Herlihy back to reprise their roles. All these radio adaptations abbreviate the source material, but Suspense goes to an extreme. It eliminates bunches of characters and follows Jimmy’s POV the whole time. It even renames the Kathleen part! It’s not very interesting as anything other than a historical curiosity, as the adaptation lacks entertainment value.

Finally, we find a 10-page booklet. It includes credits and an essay from film writer Imogen Sara Smith. It acts as a satisfactory complement to the package.

Visually appealing and ambitious in allegory, Odd Man Out contains more than a few satisfying elements. However, it tends to let its narrative stray too far afield so it tends to lack the focus that might make it more consistently engaging. The Blu-ray presents erratic but mostly positive picture and audio as well as a good collection of bonus features. I find a lot to admire about Odd Man Out but I can’t say the movie entertains me all that much.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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