1947. A horrible war has just ended. Britain is in the midst of rationing everything from petrol to food. You’d have to be pretty brave to film a sympathetic (albeit unflinching) portrayal of the IRA just then. Either that or somewhat mad.
Carol Reed, it appears, was precisely that kind of man, and history has repaid him for his bravery (or madness) by making Odd Man Out his best-remembered film. It tells the story of how an unnamed (but pretty obvious) revolutionary faction robs banks to finance itself, and of the responses of the members themselves, the people they love and the rest of the inhabitants of the unnamed city as the hunt for the perpetrators unfolds.
Refreshingly (in a world where people are convinced that anyone who voted for the “wrong” candidate in the US elections is subhuman), no one is portrayed as good or evil. Every character is shown to have their flaws and their virtues. In fact both are taken to the utter extreme in which the characters become caricatures of themselves without turning one-dimensional in the process. So the implacable cop does all in his power to protect people from themselves, the insane painter can see the pain of people’s souls, the poor, greedy old man, despite his need and the lack of promises on the financial end, does all in his power to help out.
Perhaps this is the reason that the only objection the censors had to this film was the violence. The final scenes had to be toned down. In another era, or in any other country, this one would have fallen at the first hurdle.
Perhaps this, more than anything, is what saddens me about the current state of political dialogue. It is important that we understand and accept that others will have different views. That doesn’t make them less intelligent or subhuman. Just human. If you profess to want the best for people and then hate someone just because they voted differently and don’t care about your arguments and won’t change their vote despite all your efforts, they are not the problem… you are.
Quite a good commentary on today, considering the film is seventy years old, huh?
On a slightly geeky note and our unusual fact about this one, one of the characters in this film was played by the first doctor, William Hartnell.
Gustavo Bondoni is an Argentine novelist and short story writer, author of the popular novel, Siege. You can buy it here.