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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    Filmmakers on film: Lewis Gilbert



    Lewis Gilbert on Carol Reed's Odd Man Out (1947). Interview by Mark Monahan



    Unlike many of our quarries in this column, veteran British director Lewis Gilbert has no trouble plucking one film from the many thousands he has seen.





    Lewis Gilbert: 'I've never been what I would call a really fashionable director'

    "For me," says the 82-year-old Londoner, "the film is Odd Man Out. It had such an effect on me. I was a very young director, and it came at a time when British films were at a pretty low ebb. We'd had a war and therefore they were mostly very patriotic war films or silly romances.



    "Suddenly," he continues, "this film came up. I went to a private show somewhere and I was absolutely knocked out, because there hadn't been an English film like it. It was so beautiful to look at, such a wonderful script, so marvellously acted. I suddenly saw that films could be much better than the sort of things I had in mind."



    Even by then, Gilbert had had many years in the movie business. He began as a child actor in silent films, but, after 1938's The Divorce of Lady X, he moved behind the camera and (like Reed) spent much of the war directing documentaries. His feature debut came in 1946 with The Little Ballerina, since when he has made some 40 movies.



    Gilbert's modest disclaimer - "I've never been what I would call a really fashionable director: I've made entertainment films" - hides a career of extraordinary length and considerable breadth. He has to his name not only a string of spirited war movies (The Sea Shall Not Have Them, Reach For the Sky, Sink the Bismarck), and three of the most effortlessly enjoyable Bond outings (You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker), but also such closely observed chamber-pieces as Alfie, Educating Rita, Shirley Valentine and the bittersweet tale, Before You Go.



    Gilbert admits that he hasn't seen Odd Man Out since that first screening, and wonders how it stands up today. He needn't worry. Although perhaps a little melodramatic to modern eyes, it stands up magnificently. Made in 1947, it was the first of three masterly movies with which director and fellow Londoner Carol Reed closed the decade (the other two being the Graham Greene adaptations The Fallen Idol and The Third Man), a run that remains one of the high points of British cinema.



    Its prologue, which appears on screen, bears repeating in full. "This story," it reads, "is told against a background of political unrest in a city of Northern Ireland. 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."



    Opting for drama over politics, and compassionate without moralising, the film traces the efforts of IRA activist Johnny McQueen (James Mason) to return to a safe house in the wake of a bungled robbery that leaves him abandoned by his cronies, with a bullet in his shoulder. The film begins fairly straightforwardly, with the preparations for and execution of the heist, but, as McQueen's condition deteriorates, so the expressionism heightens. The dark, echoing town becomes an increasingly paranoid labyrinth of long, sharp shadows and freakish characters, and McQueen's hallucinations grow ever more warped. (In many respects, the film can be seen as a prototype for Scorsese's After Hours, 38 years later.)



    In one particularly inspired episode, just after the robbery, the wounded McQueen takes refuge in an air-raid shelter. Suddenly, from nowhere, a ball bounces into the shelter, with a small child in pursuit. In McQueen's mind, the shelter becomes a cell, the child a warden. "Thinking back now," says Gilbert, "that's the scene that stands out - the image of the child and the ball, and the ball bouncing into the hiding fugitive. It's a wonderful, strange moment."



    In those days, with computer-generated imagery still decades away, such visual tricks required herculean time and effort. "It was beautifully shot by Bob Krasker," says Gilbert, "who later won an Oscar for The Third Man. Most films are shot in eight weeks or so, but this took six months, simply because you need time to produce that sort of photography.



    "It's a very slow-moving film," he continues, "but also it had the one thing that Carol often lacked, and that was the ability to tell a story. In those three great films of the Forties, he had master storytellers behind him - F L Green with Odd Man Out, Graham Greene with the other two - and I think the combination of Carol's technical know-how and the others' narrative skills was very powerful. None of his subsequent films lived up to those three.



    "It's not easy to, as it were, marry your collaborator," continues Gilbert, "to really be on the same wavelength as the people you're working with. Making a film is a collaborative effort - there are very few Woody Allens in Sexy Beast, who can write the script, act it, direct it, produce it, practically show people to their seats. Your writer has to produce what you can't."



    Equally vital to Odd Man Out is a magnificently touching central performance by the young James Mason. "Mason cut his teeth in Gainsborough pictures," says Gilbert, referring to the British potboiler studio of the period, "The Man in Grey, The Wicked Lady, all those wartime costume films. They were escapist, but pretty poor by today's standards - and even, in fact, by standards of those days.



    "Audiences tended to look forward to the big American movies, but here, finally, was a homegrown film of a technical brilliance to match Mason's own. It was a landmark in his career."

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: United States theuofc's Avatar
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    HI, DB7,



    Many thanks for posting the excellent Lewis Gilbert article on the fine James Mason film, "Odd Man Out."



    I agree that Mason is at his best in this movie. He shows what he can do through silence, using instead his face and eyes. That silken voice of his could charm, but his skills were superb with or without it.



    Mason and Dirk Bogarde had much in common, one reason I enjoy Mason.



    All the best,



    Barbara

    Moderator, Dirk_Bogarde_Brigade

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Dirk_Bogarde_Brigade

  3. #3
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    I watched it for the second time this evening (after a morning of 'Goodfellas' and an afternoon of 'Mean Streets'). What a great film. A good story to lose oneself in. My favourite character is the insane artist. Brilliant comic performances in the midst of tragedy. Seeing films like 'Odd Man Out' puts paid to the ridiculous notion that all British films are about people born with silver spoons in their mouths drinking cups of tea in the 19th Century. We can make great crime films.

  4. #4
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Clinton Morgan@Jun 12 2005, 10:14 PM

    I watched it for the second time this evening (after a morning of 'Goodfellas' and an afternoon of 'Mean Streets'). What a great film. A good story to lose oneself in. My favourite character is the insane artist. Brilliant comic performances in the midst of tragedy. Seeing films like 'Odd Man Out' puts paid to the ridiculous notion that all British films are about people born with silver spoons in their mouths drinking cups of tea in the 19th Century. We can make great crime films.
    But there aren't many people in any country who make films as fine as Goodfellas or Mean Streets. While you're wallowing in Scorsese, have you seen After Hours (1985)? In many ways it's still my favourite of his films - apart from all the others.



    As for other good British Crime / Drama remember films like:

    Wanted for Murder (1946)

    Brighton Rock (1947)

    The Blue Lamp (1950)

    Get Carter (1971)

    and many, many others



    Steve

  5. #5
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    Originally posted by Steve Crook@Jun 12 2005, 11:19 PM

    While you're wallowing in Scorsese, have you seen After Hours (1985)?
    Oh yes indeed. Very funny and it makes me want to shout at the screen, " No! Don't give him the keys!"



    'Sexy Beast' is pre tty good. I also hear that 'Gangster No 1' was the best of the wannabe Scorsese and mostly terrible modern British gangster films. But as you say, "There aren't many people in any country who make films as fine as Goodfellas or Mean Streets." I also happen to think that 'Casino' is very good. 'Casino' is to 'Goodfellas' what Howard Hawks' 'El Dorado' is to 'Rio Bravo'.

  6. #6
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    Odd Man Out (GB, Carol Reed, 1947)



    Starting off with a raid on a linen mill, we follow the gang leader on his journey through the city encountering various different people. Simultaneously we see the police trying to find him and what unfolds for the rest of the gang. With the excitement, the suspense, the drama we also see love and comedy. Beyond this, however, there are serious questions being drawn out - the law and religion are but two of these. When watching Carol Reed’s Odd Man Out you are aware of faith being an important factor in life. We see different people, each has their own form of faith - faith in love, in duty, in religion and in ideals.



    Johnny (James Mason), the gang leader, once had indisputable faith in the illegal organisation. This is highlighted at the beginning of the film. Having escaped from prison, where he was serving time for bringing ammunition and guns into Northern Ireland, he has now altered his way of thinking. His ideals are the same but how to achieve them are different and he talks of anti-violence and of Parliament.



    Robert Newton is wonderful, marvellous in his portrayal of Lukey. The unpredictability of Lukey is seen when he hides behind the door to catch hold of Shell (F.J. McCormick) whilst Shell tries to creep past. Shell looks like a frightened rabbit caught in the glare of headlamps when Lukey physically takes hold of him, angry that Shell could consider selling a human being. He then forgets what he was annoyed about as the thought of having Johnny as a model takes hold of him. Lukey has faith in the soul. He believes in his ability to put onto canvas the essence of a soul, which is the Truth. The painting he is working on is one of Shell as a Saint with birds flying around him. There is another painting of Shell, which shows him as he actually is, a shabby, poor, middle-aged man. Obviously unhappy with the result Lukey is trying again. Painting Shell as being akin to Saint Francis because he keeps numerous birds, is Lukey trying to get at his soul. He puts the unfinished picture to one side so he can paint Johnny. Not thinking about the man that is dying, he is just purely thinking of his soul. His single-mindedness to get the Truth onto canvas has shut out all the ugliness, all the pain and suffering Johnny is going through.



    Johnny’s journey is nearly at an end. He’s dying. James Mason gives a honest and exceptional performance of Johnny. Throughout the film you are aware that he is bleeding slowly to death. After he was first shot, he winces from the pain and his eyes betray the fear that he feels. When he gets to Lukey’s house he is suffering so much that he cannot feel it, his eyes are no longer focusing on anything real, all he can see are hallucinations. The journey as been a mental one as well as physical. He pulls himself up off the chair and starts quoting a passage from Corinthians, Chapter 13, which ends with him saying, ‘Though I have all faiths so that I could remove mountains and have not charity, I am nothing’. Without humanity he knows himself and others to be worthless, love is everything.



    Faith is only one element in a film filled with different subjects. I chose to illustrate how well made the film was by faith because I felt it was an important part of the filmmakers intentions. The quote from Corinthians about how a person is nothing unless they feel love for humanity is not an accident, it is there for a reason, to tell us that love and compassion are everything.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Country: Canada
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    Billy Liar (1963) and Odd Man Out (1947) tie for me as my all-time favourite films.



    Odd Man Out I only discovered last year. I watched it once and really enjoyed it, but it didn't completely bowl me over until I saw it again a few weeks ago at the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool. I immediately ordered the DVD and watched it again when it arrived, and after that third viewing, it was vying against Billy Liar for first place on my list.



    There's so much to love about it, not least the stunning design (Roger Furse) and lighting (Robert Krasker).

  8. #8
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    I think Odd Man Out is one of the great British films. Haven't seen it for quite a while (I probably should buy the DVD, but I always hold out until I can find the films I want at rock-bottom prices - or in a competitively-priced box-set!). I recall the later scenes with Robert Newton being particularly memorable, though the whole film is excellent.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    I thought this might interest a few people, great film as well.



    From: BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | BBC seeks stars of Belfast film noir

    BBC seeks stars of Belfast film noir



    Film tells the story of 24 hours in the life of an IRA man on the run

    BBC Northern Ireland is trying to find the stars of a film shot on the streets of Belfast 60 years.

    Odd Man Out, which starred Hollywood great James Mason, is a classic piece of film noir.

    The BBC is looking to track down the junior stars.

    One actress, Maura Shields, played a young girl in the movie, but has lost touch with her fellow actors.



    Belfast was the backdrop for the controversial 1947 film which picked up awards from Venice to Hollywood.



    Odd Man Out tells the story of 24 hours in the life of an IRA man on the run.

    The Crown Bar in the centre of Belfast has long been associated with the movie, although in fact, contrary to popular opinion, it was not actually used in the filming.



    The boys who had roles in the film were from St Patrick's Boys' home

    Instead a copy was made on set in England. It shows all the familiar ornate features of the real thing, but was more spacious and laid out in a different way.

    The star of the film, an IRA man on the run played by James Mason, takes refuge in the pub, which in Odd Man Out is called the "Four Winds".

    For many years, the pub which is owned and preserved by the National Trust, has traded on the link, and tourists often visit to see it for themselves.

    The film also starred Kathleen Ryan, Robert Newton and Robert Beatty.

    The BBC is keen to find those actors who played the gang of street urchins, who provided some of the most colourful moments in the film.

    They goad the police over their failure to catch IRA man Johnny McQueen.





    The Crown Bar has long been associated with the movie

    The boys who had roles in the film were from St Patrick's Boys' home in west Belfast where many of the scenes were filmed.

    The children were enlisted by one of Belfast's most loved actors, Joseph Tomelty, who played the cabbie 'Gin' Jimmie.

    If you were one of those boys, if you know them, if you are related to them or if you remember the production being filmed, BBC Newsline, BBC Radio Ulster and News Online want to hear from you.

    You can contact the programmes by texting the letters OMO and your message to 81771, by emailing bbcnewsline@bbc.co.uk, or by calling 0870 4111630.



    Simon

  10. #10
    Senior Member Country: United States
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    I hope they'll have good luck and that these actors can contribute to a DVD's special-features section.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain mariocki's Avatar
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    Odd Man Out is now �5:99 from Network as their Deal Of The Week.



    The Special features included on Odd Man Out Special Edition are:



    • Commemorative booklet, including original theatrical press-book

    • Home, James – documentary from 1972, where James Mason returns to his native Yorkshire

    • ITV Interview from 1972 with James Mason

    • Script PDF

    • 165 image stills gallery



    Odd Man Out: Special Edition: Network DVD

  12. #12
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain
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    Didn't James Mason say that he thought "Odd Man Out" was his finest on screen performance ? I certainly think so .

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    Quote Originally Posted by billy bentley
    Didn't James Mason say that he thought "Odd Man Out" was his finest on screen performance ? I certainly think so .
    I thought his finest was as Prof. Humbert Humbert in Lolita.



    I just thought he was the tailor made for that role as Humbert, Mason always looked like he had a troubled air about him and was his film career really fulfilled with those major leading parts in Hollywood greats that you would of thought would of come his way but did'nt.



    So there is a touch of vulnerability about him mixed with a bitter conceit that the world should of taken more notice of him, which I think comes across in some of his characters, for instance in North by Northwest. I also like very much his part in The Man Between as Ivo Kern and really enjoyed the film as one of his finest achievements even though I may be the odd man out on that opinion.



    Simon

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    The Network set of 'Odd Man Out' - which may be Carol Reed's finest film - is excellent and the transfer is right up there among the best I've seen of a B&W film to DVD. I can't recommend it enough.



    I quite agree Simon on 'The Man Between'; another excellent Reed/Mason collaberation which has been unfairly and unjustly compared to 'The Third Man'.

  15. #15
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    Looks like I'll be trading in my NTSC DVD for the Network edition.



    At a screening of The Crying Game by the Queen's Film Theatre in Belfast Neil Jordan was offreed the chance to present it as a double bill with a film he felt was similar in spirit - he chose Odd Man Out. Absurdly wishful thinking on his part if you ask me - The Crying Game is bollocks.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Hodson
    The Network set of 'Odd Man Out' - which may be Carol Reed's finest film - is excellent and the transfer is right up there among the best I've seen of a B&W film to DVD. I can't recommend it enough.



    I quite agree Simon on 'The Man Between'; another excellent Reed/Mason collaboration which has been unfairly and unjustly compared to 'The Third Man'.
    It may be the 2nd best film by Reed, Third Man is his masterpiece

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    It's a wonderfully written script with strong lead characterisation in that we Brits still silently cheered on the leader of an IRA group and felt content when the old English couple gave him tea then helped him out of a bad situation (not to give anything away) even when the film was shown during the troubles in Northern Ireland.

  18. #18
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    Hi all I'm new to this great looking forum.



    I was wondering if anyone has seen the James Mason film 'Odd Man Out'?

    I read a little about it in last week's Gaurdian so just wanted to hear some views on the film.



    Regards

    James

  19. #19
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    I think it's Sir Carol Reed's greatest film...James Mason agreed. He told me that when he went to a gathering in Ireland they had a poor 16mm print to show him and the audience...He said the big speech at the end had been nicked out, probably by a collector, so it was ruined...but it still got a standing ovation. Robert Newton steals every scene...Brilliant, in fact I'm going to run it again this afternoon.

    Film Man.

  20. #20
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    Thank you for the information. I've been reading quite a few articles via the internet and It looks a great film. I also note that it is available to buy on Dvd so I'll grab myself a copy.



    Regards

    James

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