Odd Man Out

4 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Before it even begins, Odd Man Out informs us, kind of stiffly, that it is “not concerned with the struggle between the law and an illegal organization.” Instead, it takes its cues from a “conflict of the heart.” Maybe such remarks were necessary to soothe 1947 Brits at the sight of a sympathetic IRA drama. But the movie’s quieter passages are far more effective. As the film’s desperate fugitive (wounded after botching a bank robbery), James Mason winces through most of it, eyes plunging from regret to black disillusionment. Carol Reed blankets the last half of the film in a softly falling snow, a blessing as the police force of an unnamed Irish town (locations were in Belfast) closes in. A forlorn wind wails as a towered bell strikes sadly.

In this summer of The Hurt Locker and its personalized politics, it makes good sense to revisit Reed’s noir via Film Forum’s enveloping new print. Odd Man Out feels like the work of a stylist stepping up, taking a topic of the times and shrouding it in gentle brogues, heavy-duty spirituality and the ill-fated affections of a young lass (Ryan, electric on Mason’s arm). On deck for the director are, it must be said, superior pictures: 1948’s The Fallen Idol and the following year’s The Third Man. But this is Reed’s arrival, marking a path for England’s postwar panache. The movie has a vaunted place in the context of British cinema, and deservedly. Today, what Odd Man Out most suggests is a desperate endgame, the potentials of a long life snuffed out in a moment of impulsiveness.—Joshua Rothkopf

Opens Fri; Film Forum. Find showtimes

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