Monday, July 13, 2015

The 1947 Blogathon


Karen of Shadows and Satin and Kristina of Speakeasy are hosting a blogathon where the main objective is to talk about a particular film from 1947. Knowing that Black Narcissus would be a popular choice (it was), I decided to opt for something less conventional:

(1947, dir. Carol Reed)
(Imagine my surprise when it was chosen by another blogger as well.) And with its recent transfer on Criterion, it was just begging for a re-watch from me.


The film opens with the planning and execution of a bank robbery. Both go off without a hitch…at first. While trying to escape, ex-con Johnny McQueen (a stunning James Mason) gets shot and is forced to hide throughout the vast unnamed Irish city (it’s assumed to be Belfast) from the police. What ensues is a noir of morality, a glimpse into the mind of a conflicted criminal.


Odd Man Out depicts a man floating between life and death, living in a real-life purgatory. Johnny finds sympathy from some of the people he encounters and scorn from others, sometimes both within the same people. But one thing is clear from the passersby that come across Johnny: they want nothing to do with an escaped criminal with blood on his hands (both figuratively and literally).


And as we watch Johnny get weaker and weaker from his wounds, the words of John Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale” come to mind:
Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy!
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain--
To thy high requiem become a sod.

Along with Reed’s keen direction and Mason’s anguished performance, the main focus of Odd Man Out is Robert Krasker’s crisp cinematography. Much like what he would do with The Third Man just two years later, Krasker depicts a city ravaged from war but still thriving with life. He experiments with shadows and lights, showing a nightmare through a dreamlike vision.


Reed nowadays is primarily known for two films: The Third Man, which solidified his status in film, and Oliver!, which earned him his lone Oscar for Best Director. And yet Odd Man Out has somehow slipped past the eyes of most film admirers. After all, it did provide an influence for Yann Demange’s ’71, one of the best films in recent years. Fitting seeing as Odd Man Out is one of the best films of the 1940s.

16 comments:

  1. What a great pick! I have never seen this movie and, for some reason, when I read your title, I was thinking of the movie with Anthony Perkins (Fear Strikes Out!). (LOL.) This sounds awesome -- I don't know how I let this one slip past me, but you can bet I'll be tracking it down. You can't go wrong with James Mason, and coupled with atmospheric direction from Carol Reed? I'm so there. Thank you so much for this first-rate contribution to the blogathon!

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  2. Nice overview of the film, it is a shame that it's reputation isn't as vaunted as Third Man. I love James Mason, he's in my top 10 favorite actors, and he is brilliant in this film. It's easy to see how this really pushed his career into international recognition.

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    1. And how. Hopefully Criterion's recent transfer will have more people seeking it out.

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  3. You have such an interesting blog. Thanks for sharing. I'm a self-help blog author and reading blogs is my hobby and I randomly found your blog. I enjoyed reading your posts. All the best for your future blogging endeavors. Please keep in touch with me in Twitter, @ipersuade.

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    1. Thank you. And I'll be sure to check out your work as well.

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  4. I also picked ODD MAN OUT! Great piece.

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    1. Thank you. :) And I'll be sure to read your piece too.

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  5. Good pick, beautifully photographed movie and one of Mason's best roles. Glad to see it get the attention, and glad you joined this blogathon. Thanks!

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  6. Great pick, and I'm glad to see this getting the love from multiple corners. I recently re-watched this and it isn't The Thin Man - but I think there's something much more poetic in the cityscape shots. Perhaps Reed knew the latter film would be a success, as (for me) there's something a little more natural in this.

    (Vicki, GirlsDoFilm - I can't comment with my wordpress account!)

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  7. I wacthed this one earlier this year and was left speechless. How such a great movie is so little talked about? It surprised me in a very pleasant way, and I was more surprised to see it among the "1001 Movies you should see bfore you die" list book. And I agree that the cinematography is stunning.
    Don't forget to read my contribution to the blogathon! :)
    Cheers!
    Le
    http://www.criticaretro.blogspot.com.br/2015/07/a-caminho-do-rio-road-to-rio-1947.html

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    1. That's often the case with some of the great movies: they don't get the recognition they deserve. And I will be sure to read your entry.

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  8. I've been meaning to watch this one for a while and must get to it soon after reading your piece - Carol Reed, James Mason and such powerful subject matter make it a must.

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