Screened as part of NZIFF 2002

Odd Man Out 1947

Directed by Carol Reed

UK In English
116 minutes 35mm

Director, Producer


F.L. Green, R.C. Sherriff. Based on the novel by F.L. Green


Robert Krasker


Fergus McDonell


William Alwyn


James Mason (Johnny)
Robert Newton (Lukey)
Robert Beatty (Dennis)
Kathleen Ryan (Kathleen)
Cyril Cusack (Pat)
F.J. McCormick (Shell)
William Hartnell (Fencie)
Fay Compton (Rosie)


Featuring James Mason’s finest performance, Odd Man Out is the least British of British film classics. Critic David Thomson calls it ‘one of the greatest Irish films ever made’. Now it can be seen in its full, startling glory in this superb British Film Institute restoration. Our screenings are dedicated to Bill Sheat who retires this year as founding chairman of the New Zealand Film Festival Trust. He has let it drop that he’d like to see if the film retains its place at the top of his ten best list, a mere 53 years after he first saw it. — BG 

"Carol Reed’s Odd Man Out (1947), from a screenplay by R.C. Sherriff and F.L. Green, based on Green’s novel with James Mason, Kathleen Ryan, F.J. McCormick, Robert Newton, Fay Compton and Denis O’Dea, genuinely expanded the limits of cinema aesthetics in the late 40s as Citizen Kane had done at the end of the previous decade. One can harp about some of the film’s strained allegory, its touch of sanctimoniousness (particularly in the strict accountability demanded of a largely incidental, but not accidental, killing), and the occasional excesses of shadowy pageantry, but this still does not diminish the sublimity of such scenes as the death-embracing romanticism of Ryan’s heroine, of the chirping humanity of McCormick’s bird peddler, and of the instinctive compassion of Compton’s housewife. Mason, although not a fully articulated tragic hero, is also a magnetic presence as a wounded IRA chieftain on a doomed nighttime odyssey in search of deliverance. Reed’s stylized direction, the lyricism of the Sherriff-Green script, the William Alwyn score, and the darkling magic of Robert Krasker’s night photography combine to make Odd Man Out one of the enduring masterpieces of the age of anguished black-and-white. Harold Pinter has even somewhat legitimized the film by having the characters of Old Times debate the respective merits of Newton’s and McCormick’s performances." — Andrew Sarris and Tom Allen, Village Voice