Odd Man Out (Reed, 1947)

Definitely one of the strangest post-WWII thrillers I’ve seen. Director Carol Reed begins with a seemingly simple political potboiler, following James Mason and his IRA crew on a botched bank robbery. The rest of the film charts Mason’s attempt to escape the tightening grasp of the police pursuit through the shadowy Noir streets and alleys of Belfast. Instead of focusing on Mason’s cunning or street savvy, the film bounces his wounded body from one “innocent bystander” to another, allowing for a variety of morally ambiguous dealings to occur in the name of ethics and loyalty.

Reed’s host of fringe characters make up the thematic core, revealing the true nature of those often caught in the cross-hairs of rebellions. In terms of visual mastery, Odd Man Out could be a companion piece to Reed’s masterful The Third Man. Every frame elicits a sense of dread, an impending doom that could come from anywhere or anyone. Mason’s hero doesn’t say much, but his punishing physical performance emotes plenty through rough glances and hazy hopefulness. Ironically, his fate becomes sealed by those trying to help instead of those hunting him down.

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