Odd Man Out/B+,B
Image/1947/116/BW 1.33
     Odd Man Out has a nightmare like existence. On the surface, itís a straightforward IRA story. Fresh out of prison, IRA captain Johnny McQueen plans to lead a payroll heist of a Belfast mill. There is dissention concerning Johnnyís physical stamina and his ability to lead the job, but he carries on. Everything seems to go well enough, but a disoriented Johnny stumbles on the steps, cramping the getaway. The driver of the getaway car panics and in the confusion Johnny is left wounded in the middle of the road. Stumbling to a hiding place, the delirious Johnny desperately tries to avoid capture by the police.
oddmanout.jpg (26964 bytes)

Lukey paints a semi-conscious Johnny. ©Janus

     While a police manhunt blankets the Belfast streets, Kathleen, who loves Johnny, tries to find his whereabouts so that she can smuggle him out of the city. The police threaten her with accountability if she does not cooperate in Johnnyís capture. Meanwhile, Johnnyís confederates foolishly talk about the robbery and all the while the police net tightens around the city. Abandoned by a horse cabby, Johnny is spotted by a derelict and then coveted by a drunken artist who wants to capture the countenance of death on canvas.
     Carol Reed paints this story of a bungled IRA bank job in the shadows of night, high key lights illuminating the players in dramatic compositions. The stylized photography creates a nightmare canvas for Johnny to traverse. The haunting William Allyn score follows every move of the characters, signaling an inevitable march to reality.
     James Mason wanders through the role of Johnny with a magnificent sense of pre-ordination. Itís a role that must be constantly underplayed and it is certainly amongst the best work Mason has ever done. Robert Newton has some amazing moments as the rogue artist Lukey.
     The black and white images are effectively pumped by dramatic use of contrast. There are a few passages when black clothing seems slightly crushed and loses detail, but this could well be due to the high key style of shooting that Reed chose. Dirt and scratches are intermittent, but seldom alter the magnificent visual impact of the stark imagery. This is a highly detailed DVD transfer with an overall lustrous look. The is clean without apparent hiss and the Alwyn score, while slightly pinched in range, is still utterly beautiful.





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