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Adam Ross

Great choice for this year. I sought this out after hearing Steven Soderbergh rave about it on the Third Man commentary. What stayed with me the most was how Reed made the city McQueen's own private prison, a place where it seemed he could hide successfully, but never feel free.


Thom, I've never seen this film but have wanted to because of a 2-page piece on it by Roman Polanski in Projections 4 1/2, (edited by John Boorman in association with Positif). Polanski calls this the film that had the biggest influence on him when he was young, and recalls seeing it in Cracow, where its Polish title was Those Not Needed Can Go. I look forward to finally seeing it.


Adam, thanks. Y'know, that Soderbergh sounds like a wise man :P I just became a fan of this flick so I'm happy to read that you are too. I really like your prisoner-within-his-own-city theme because it does seem to be something Reed and Green are really striving for. Nearly everything and everyone in the city seem to be ambivalent about Johnny and his unnamed cause. Like the coachman who says, "I'm not for you, but I'm not against you either." It seems to be yet another way Reed and Green comment on the social/political context by not commenting on it.


Hi Girish. Thanks for the info on Polanski and the alternate title. I've only seen Repulsion (1965), Rosemary's Baby (1968), Chinatown (1974) and Frantic (1988) and don't recall an overt influence. But the theme of an outsider trapped in a hostile environment fuels Frantic and Repulsion (come to think of it, Rosemary too). I'll look for more connections when I watch his earlier films (if I can get a hold of them). I hope that you do get a chance to view Odd Man Out and post about it too.


Great choice! We just showed this at my theater and had a huge turnout. I absolutely love this movie. I especially love how (as you pointed out), for the most part, it's not about Johnny's adventures escaping or surviving, but about the moral quandary he poses to everyone he encounters. This prompts so many great performances from the supporting cast, especially a really stellar, watchful scene from Fay Compton as Rosie (the woman who's afraid her husband will come home and find him). And the "tripping" you point out is also there in the structure--as Johnny becomes more and more delirious, he winds up encountering more and more crazy people and situations, culminating in Lukey the maniac painter. And what an ending!


Hey Mike. I kept thinking I'd seen a notice for an exhibition of this film but couldn't figure out where it was. I searched for somewhere 'round here, but no luck. I must have been thinking about the schedule you sent to me a while back. Glad to read it received a good turnout at your place.

I'm intrigued by your reading of the structure as a mirror on Johnny's deteriorating physical and mental conditions. I hadn't thought of that (though I did notice the weather going from clear to rain to snow by the end). Things certainly fall apart quickly for McQueen between afternoon tea and midnight, don't they? No wonder he hallucinates at one point about being back in prison and that this, certainly his worst day ever, has been just a dream.

Jacqueline T Lynch

"Mason emotes with body, posture, facial expressions, eyes, and any number of small gestures...I didn't realize how much I've missed this style of acting since this blog turned the sync sound corner back in 1928 and everyone began talking all the time." Funny, but so true. What an engrossing analysis of this film. Fascinating. Thanks.


Thank you Jacqueline. I wondered if you'd pick up on that. I really miss the late silent era pictures (what I wouldn't give for one more Borzage or Murnau) and the more physically expressive acting style. On imdb there's a bit of trivia that claims Mason considered this his favorite performance. I wonder if the small amount of lines had something to do with that?

Have you seen this one? If so, is there a write-up at your blog?


One of my all time favourites, I'm happy you chose it for 1947.

As for the Kathleen's decision in the end, I'm torn to how selfless it may be. It seems like the only logical conclusion, and she does afterall give up her life for him. However, the discussions between her and her grandmother reveal, at least for me, someone who is very naive, emotionally or otherwise. I think without being aware of it, she's using him as much as the others, although for very different reasons. The only character who strikes me as caring only for Johnny's best interests is Father Tom, although he's too meek to do much.

Brilliant film, and aparently Mason's own favourite performance.


That's an attractive point, Justine. It isn't exactly selfless if we consider that, in her mind, Kathleen gets exactly what she's after: Johnny himself--be it in life or in death.

Jacqueline T Lynch

Hello again, Thom. No, there's no write-up on this film on my blog. I have to admit, I've never seen the film, or at the very least I may have seen scenes from it. Vague memory. Back in the days before VCR, I guess.

C. Jerry

Now if only someone would re-release Reed's third *great* film, OUTCAST OF THE ISLANDS.


Count me among those who haven't seen this film, though I've wanted to for a long time. Years ago when I went to the library and xeroxed all the issues of Sight & Sound magazine in which they printed the results of their 10-year poll, I remember Odd Man Out would always get lots of mentions on individual critics' lists (particularly in the first poll in 1952, where I think it might have been mentioned more often than any other Reed film) but never quite enough to crack the collective top ten.

So far I've only seen (in order of personal preference) the Fallen Idol, the Third Man and Oliver!

How serious are you about wanting to see another Borzage? 'Cause he made a great one in 1948: Moonrise, and it's potentially available on VHS. Not silent, of course, but bears his visual style.


This is one of the benefits of blogging: lots of recommendations for future viewing.

C. Jerry - I'd really like to see Outcast of the Islands. In fact, you've piqued my curiosity. I'm looking at my small Conrad collection right now to see if I have the original story on the bookshelf...nope. Think I'll stop at the library this week...

Brian - I remain impressed by your knowledge of cinema. Not only do you suggest a Borzage I've never even heard of, but it just happens to be from the very year I'm writing about next! All right, I'm on the hunt... Oh, and The Fallen Idol is in my queue too, thank you.

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