Odd Man Out

I moved forward slowly with my work. I wished that I could get my hands on a Bergman script, but I had to go on. I went to Trader Joe’s to buy some food, and I sat in the office trying to get a few things done. I had to deal with two students who weren’t prepared for final exams, and then I spoke with a third, more reasonable student. I bought a shredded beef burrito before I returned home. I watched Carol Reed’s “Odd Man Out” on DVD. This film was made two years before “The Third Man,” and you can see some similarities in the imagery, with the dark, wet streets at night, and the shadows on the walls. James Mason is Johnny McQueen, a revolutionary who is seriously injured during a robbery. The police are out to find him because he killed a man during the heist. They were a gang who couldn’t get things done the right way. Johnny discovers what people really think of him. They certainly don’t want to risk the penalty of helping him, so there he is bleeding to death like Sterling Hayden in “The Asphalt Jungle.” This was one of the memorable roles I’ve seen for James Mason. One of my only firsthand memories of him was “The Verdict,” when he was an old man. Throughout this movie, the police are closing in on him, and the tension increases as it feels that death is approaching. Of course there is a woman who loves him, and her name is Kathleen. Johnny can’t stay in one place for long, so his condition worsens. Going to a hospital would only delay his death. Some people want to get a reward for turning him in. A painter wants to paint him, and a priest wants to hear his confession. He finds that he is alone in the world. Well, there is Kathleen, although her plant to take him on a ship and escape seems less realistic with each minutes that passes. I thought this film was nearly as good as “The Third Man.” It didn’t have Orson Welles or Joseph Cotten, of course, or the memorable music. It did have a main character who was on the run from the law. I don’t know why I should have rooted for the Mason character to escape, especially after he shot the man who died. He also did in for one of those political causes that no one seemed to be joining. However, somebody should have escaped this hellish community. The children behaved in a disturbing way. It is hard to forget the little girl who saw Johnny in his hiding place. It seemed that since this movie was made in the 1940s that Johnny would have to suffer some type of punishment for his crime, but when the end comes, it is a bit shocking. At least I could see the movie audiences of 1947 gasping at the last moments. I’m not sure I would want a woman like Kathleen decide my fate. The action of this story takes place over the course of one night, ending just before midnight. This movie was quite powerful, which sets it apart from about 99 percent of the movies that are out there not making much of an impression on the public. This is only the third Carol Reed film that I can recall seeing, after “The Third Man” and “Oliver!” I wonder what happened to him. You’d think that after “Odd Man Out” and “The Third Man,” he’d roll out one brilliant film after another up until “Oliver!” and even beyond. “Oliver!” is one of the movies of my youth. It also had a criminal being pursued by the law, at least after we heard songs like “Consider Yourself” and “I Would Do Anything for You.” When I think more about “The Third Man,” I’m more impressed with its rich quality, from the humor to the mystery. It should that mastery of the medium that is so rare. “Odd Man Out” felt like a preview of “The Third Man” in several respects. The two films would go together pretty well on one of those double features I liked so much in my youth. “Odd Man Out” had some lasting qualities, and it’s a movie that I would like to go back to every once in a while. It’s not one of those sentimental films that you get sick of quickly. After I slept for a while, I awoke to see Quentin Tarantino on the Stephen Colbert show. He listening to music helps him writing, citing the case of “Jackie Brown.” He also said again that “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” was his favorite movie. He said that he used the lenses that were used for “Ben-Hur” to shoot “The Hateful Eight.” I thought he had a good idea in reviving the road show concept, although I didn’t see the road show reaching my neighborhood. How many theatres in the country still have a 70 millimeter projector, anyway? One of the interesting facts I discovered during the day was about the future Criterion Collection releases. I saw that the titles included “The Kid,” “The Graduate,” and “The Emigrants.” I felt that I wanted to join a Criterion Collection selection of the month club. Jennifer Lawrence and Kurt Russell were both on the Seth Meyers show. It seemed that “The Hateful Eight” was being promoted to a sickening level. I’ll see it anyway simply because of Tarantino. I find it curious that Tarantino is using Kurt Russell again. Tarantino offered his opinion on “You’ve Got Mail.” I liked that movie, although it was sad to think of the changes that Meg Ryan went through afterwards. On the next channel, I saw a Tara King episode of The Avengers. It looked like they were photographing Linda Thorsen from behind a lot. I noticed that some of these shows on these channels look very good. I noticed that on the game show channel in recent weeks, Match Game looks sharper and better. I looked at photos of Mary Tyler Moore and felt changed at the way in which she aged terribly over a matter of a few months. The photos of her going through the Los Angeles International Airport were painful to see. Would it be worth it to pay good money to see Adele in concert at the Oracle Arena? Perhaps I should listen again to her recent album before I decide. I’m not drawn to those songs. Some of the people who died on December 16 include Camille Saint-Saëns (1921), W. Somerset Maugham (1965), Colonel Sanders (1980), Lee Van Cleef (1989), Nicolette Larson (1997), Sam Bottoms (2008), and Nicol Williamson (2011). Today is a birthday for William Perry (53) and Benny Andersson (69). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for December 16, “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” featuring James Mason, Pat Boone, and Gertrud the duck, was released in 1959. In 1965, the Richard Burton movie “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” was released in the United States. In 1977, “Saturday Night Fever,” the star-making movie for John Travolta, was released.

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