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Odd Man Out (1947) is an Anglo-Irish film noir directed by Carol Reed, starring James Mason, and is based on a novel of the same name by F. L. Green.


The film's opening intertitle reads:
"This story is told against a background of political unrest in a city of Northern Irelandmarker. It is not concerned with the struggle between the law and an illegal organisation, but only with the conflict in the hearts of the people when they become unexpectedly involved."

The city and the illegal organisation are never explicitly named in the film, but the protagonist is a chieftain in an IRA-like organization. James Mason plays Johnny McQueen, who is trying to escape from the police after an ill-advised bank robbery meant to replenish the organization's coffers. The film follows McQueen, who has been wounded in the robbery, through an increasingly surreal odyssey over a day and a night. The bleak city (almost certainly Belfastmarker), with its labyrinth of havens and traps, draws Johnny ever deeper into itself as the night wears on.


Kathleen Ryan
Aside from Mason, the supporting cast was drawn largely from Dublinmarker's Abbey Theatremarker. Among the other members of the Organisation are Cyril Cusack, Robert Beatty, and Dan O'Herlihy. On his travels, Johnny meets an opportunistic bird-fancier played by F. J. McCormick, a drunken artist played by Robert Newton, a barman (William Hartnell) and a failed surgeon (Elwyn Brook-Jones). Denis O'Dea is the Inspector on Johnny's trail, and Kathleen Ryan, in her first feature film, plays the woman who loves Johnny. Also of note are W. G. Fay -- a founder of the Abbey Theatre -- as the kindly Father Tom, Fay Compton, Joseph Tomelty, and Eddie Byrne. A number of non-speaking parts were filled by actors who later went on to achieve a modicum of fame, including Wilfrid Brambell, Dora Bryan, Geoffrey Keen, Noel Purcell, and Guy Rolfe. Few of the main actors in the film actually manage an authentic Ulster accent.

The cinematographer was Robert Krasker, in his first film for director Reed, lighting sets designed by Ralph Brinton and Roger Furse.

This was the first screen appearance of Steptoe and Son actor Wilfrid Brambell who began his 35 year career as a standing passenger in the tram scene of this film.

The main set was based on the Crown Barmarker in Belfastmarker; contrary to some sources, it was a studio set built at D&P Studios in Denham, Buckinghamshire, and was not filmed in the real Crown. However, much of the film was shot on location: exterior scenes were shot in West Belfast, although some were shot at Broadway Marketmarker, Hackneymarker in Londonmarker.

Composer William Alwyn was involved writing the leitmotif-based score from the very beginning of the production. It was performed by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Muir Mathieson.


The film's reception was mostly rapturous, with direction and acting receiving high praise. However, its arguably sympathetic stance towards an Irish Republican freedom fighter or terrorist - a character that the British and Ulster Unionist Establishment of the time saw as a mere criminal - attracted some criticism in both the Britain and Northern Irelandmarker of the era. The film's violent ending also attracted advance criticism from the censors, and had to be toned down in the finished film.

The film received the BAFTA Award for Best British Film in 1948. It was nominated for the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival in 1947, and nominated for a Best Film Editing Oscar in 1948.




  • The Great British Films, pp 106-109, Jerry Vermilye, 1978, Citadel Press, ISBN 080650661X

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