Sunday, June 5, 2016

Odd Man Out

Johnny is near the end of his life, just hours away from his final breath.  After an eventful day as a fugitive,  finds himself in front of a crazed artist attempting to capture him for his canvas.  Johnny has been wounded from a gunshot in his arm earlier that day, after he and some accomplices committed a robbery.  In a moment of hallucination he begins quoting Corinthians 13:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.......

and..


When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

Why these verses? What relevance do they have to a man who has spent his life serving the Organisation (possibly aka the Irish Republican Army?) in Northern Ireland (Belfast?)? Would anyone at the end of their tether finally recognize that love is what makes life worth living, enduring? That what seemed like noble endeavors in the name of something were just childish pursuits? Or maybe the methodology (violence) to achieve them is being taken to task? Maybe he really was just hallucinating.

James Mason plays Johnny, in a fine performance of very few words, as a weary loyalist whose stretches in prison have softened his mettle, his means of supporting his group.  He holes up with a young woman and her grandmother for six months.  The others in his group don't feel he's ready, physically or otherwise, to knock off the local mill.  The job goes sour.  A cashier pulls a gun.  Johnny falls out of the getaway car.

He spends the rest of the day in hiding, at times discovered by townspeople who know of him and his loyalty.  Maybe they agree with the Cause. Most folks support the Cause but are unwilling to get their hands dirty.  What a bother to get mixed up with a criminal!  People want to go about their lives, children playing ball and young lovers seeking a spot for an assignation.  Johnny limps around town, exploited by some, neglected by others.  At the end, the woman he loves will meet him.  Her loyalty is to him, to love.

Director Carol Reed beautifully and compellingly orchestrates 1947's ODD MAN OUT straight to its final scene, and does a curious thing there - did the woman shoot first? I won't say more. I won't say at whom she shoots.  Or who lives. A deathwish?  It will give you much to think on as you admire Robert Krasker's cinematography, creating the sort of atmosphere probably every director of merit dreams about doing if he hadn't already.

You'll remember a destitute character who has a bird with an injured left wing (aha) and who seeks assistance from a man of the cloth, trying to exchange the wandering sinner (Johnny) for money.  The priest instead offers him the promise of faith.  Could the viewer takes this as works based salvation?  This film will be an excellent starting point for the genuine and would be theologian.

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