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CAROL REED'S BELFAST NOIR 'ODD MAN OUT' WITH JAMES MASON

Robert Beatty bribes adorable urchin to find his friend YEAR: 1947
James Mason is always intense, even when he's playing comedy, and this is no comedy: The most riveting scenes seem initially very normal and, for this wounded Irish nationalist leader left for dead and, in darkened alleys and hidden rooms, constantly in-hiding, he seems to come across things that, at first, seem much different than they turn out being, making this ODD MAN way, way OUT there while at the same time, you feel in the desperate man's perspective...

So the suspense relies on a fish out of water while perhaps the best moments occur for only ten or so minutes in the beginning, as we see through what's truly a semi-deranged mind to begin with: having been holed-up in prison for many years, even his own "soldiers" don't trust his instincts and capabilities to pull off a relatively otherwise in-and-out office heist that in fact, Mason's confounded and lost, intrepidly named Johnny McQueen backed by tough, assertive Robert Beatty (who is young and resembles a not yet grown Tom Courtenay); weaselly, gun-toting Cyril Cusack; timid Dan O'Herlihy; and especially the lovely, soulfully sad yet dedicated and stubborn-tough ingenue Kathleen Ryan...

Rather underused James Mason in hides in ODD MAN OUT Rating: ***1/2
And Johnny's perspective begins as a hallucinatory mind-trip, perhaps there needed more of an initial straight road for our hero in order for the moments of askew perception to mean more to the bleak, post-war canvas, filmed beautifully by future THE THIRD MAN director Carol Reed...

Although his THE THIRD MAN, only two years later, would far surpass the entire eclectic canon of British Film Noir as the first half is by far the best. After which, it's a bit too dizzying and all over the place, random. Especially during the third act that, for the most part, lacks the title character, shown only now and again, hiding in the snow, and centers on two crazy old men, fighting over the money to rat him out, both more befitting a dark comedy... and this two-hour dying-man post-heist drama-thriller is no laughing matter. Basically, for better or worse, ODD MAN OUT is character-driven — beginning with far more interesting characters than it winds up with.
No Shirt, No Shoes, No Dice... No Jitterbugging! Carol Reed's ODD MAN OUT w/ James Mason
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