Sunday, May 24, 2015

"Odd Man Out", film noir set in Northern Ireland in the 1940s

Odd Man Out” (1947), by Carol Reed (screenplay by F.L. Green), makes an adventure story of a fugitive for a “terror” organization after a robbery goes bad, without taking sides in the bigger political issue.  That problem, of course, would be the IRA, as it developed later in Northern Ireland’s history in succeeding decades.  The film appears to be shot in Belfast, which is not named.
James Mason plays Johnny McQueen, the fugitive.  He has been shielded by a girlfriend Kathleen Sullivan (Kathleen Ryan). After a firefight, in which he is shot and in which he has shot a cop, two other female passers-by take him in and give him first aid before he gets strength to leave.
The film also plays on the idea that ordinary people face practical dilemmas when sheltering outlaws or particularly political rebels.  They might have to choose between the law on the one hand, and protection from gangs on the other.
A good part of the first movement of the Schubert "Unfinished" Symphony in B Minor plays early in the film. There's a line "in the left wing" (where Johnny hides) that makes a great pun. There's a great reflective image of different images in "soap bubbles".  There's a line from a Catholic priest, "in my profession, there is not good and bad, only guilt and innocence".  Toward the end, the symphonic music of composer William Alwyn (like in his symphonies) kicks in, as the couple heads for a tragic reunion before police, after Johnny, running around with his arm in a sling, sermonizes from Corinthians. 
The film was produced by the J. Arthur Rank organization, which became known as perhaps the leading British film company in the 1950s and which was often played in “arthouses” at the time (like the McArthur and Ontario theaters in Washington DC, and later the Biograph).  The distributor is Janus.

I wonder if this film inspired the 1966 film "The Chase" as well as "The Fugitive" (two films).  
Picture: Northern Ireland, in the 1980s, Mother’s estate picture (not from film, which is in black and white).

No comments: