Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Carol Reed night

TCM is celebrating the birthday of director Carol Reed tonight with a night of his movies. Wait a second. Carol Red was born on December 30, 1906. So it's just one of those random nights where TCM decides to honor somebody for no particular reason other than to show a night of good movies. Not that that's a bad reason to honor anybody, of course! As for Reed, he's probably best known for two movies: winning the Oscar for Oliver! (not airing tonight), as well as directing The Third Man (airing overnight at 3:15 AM ET). One of his movies that's not as well known but really deserves attention is Odd Man Out, which shows up at 11:30 PM tonight.

Odd Man Out is another of those movies with a really simple plot. James Mason stars as Johnny McQueen, a member of an IRA-like group in Belfast who has just gotten out of prison and is holed up in the house of one of the group's female supporters and her mother. The group is planning a bank robbery to fund themselves. But, unfortunately, the robbery goes awry, and in the getaway, Johnny is shot and wounded while the rest of the group continues to speed off in the getaway car, unable to go back and retrieve him. So, it's up to Johnny to fend for himself and find a way out of his predicament in the cold winter of Belfast....

The plot really is that simple, but frankly, describing it that simply doesn't do justice to the movie. As with so many of the British movies of the early postwar period, it's full of a more realistic darkness than the Hollywood noirs; it's also got its fair share of oddball characters, including a painter living in a derelict apartment and a priest who wants Johnny to do the right thing; and of course it has a plot with a lot of twists and coincidences. James Mason is quite good, but the rest of the cast adds just as much to the movie.

Odd Man Out was apparently released to DVD in Europe, but the TCM website lists it as not being available on DVD, while Amazon lists a small number of import copies available. So, you're better off catching one of the TCM showings.

No comments: