Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Odd Man Out (1947)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Odd Man Out (1947, UK)

In producer/director Carol Reed's searing, taut and suspenseful crime-chase (melo)-drama and noirish British post-war thriller (adapted from F.L. Green's 1945 novel) with gritty black and white cinematography - a rich character study about a rebel leader - a doomed man-on-the-run:

  • an opening crawl was superimposed over an aerial view of Belfast: "This story is told against a background of political unrest in a city of Northern Ireland. It is not concerned with the struggle between the law and an illegal organisation, but only with the conflict in the hearts of the people when they become unexpectedly involved"
  • an early scene in a cramped row-house introduced rebellious Irish underground leader and IRA-like nationalist gunman Johnny McQueen (James Mason in one of his best performances), six months after escaping from prison; he was hiding out in the house of his loving girlfriend Kathleen Sullivan (Kathleen Ryan in her debut film) and her Grannie (Kitty Kirwan)
  • with his compatriots, he was planning a daring payroll robbery-holdup (presumably in Belfast in N. Ireland) of a factory mill, to fund the underground IRA operations of "The Organization"
Johnny Suffering From Vertigo Before and During Holdup


Shot in Shoulder

Murder of Armed Cashier
  • McQueen's vertigo was represented on the way to the robbery and during the ill-advised, unsuccessful robbery-holdup attempt - the buildings and other passing objects were at sharp angles, his vision blurred, and he appeared delirious; after the heist, McQueen stumbled on the front steps as he approached the get-away car parked outside, driven by hothead Pat (Cyril Cusack), and as he fought off an armed cashier at the mill, he was lethally-wounded in the left shoulder before killing the man; and then as the getaway car sped away, he was unable to fully get into the vehicle from the running board - he fell onto the street and had to be left behind
  • for the remainder of the film, Johnny lost control of his destiny (and free will) as he desperately struggled to avoid capture, and stumbled through the streets of Belfast (disguised) while trying to hide; when not able to make it back to Kathleen's house, Johnny sought shelter in the city's ghettos, air-raid shelter, deserted buildings, pubs, and back alleys (and even in a junkyard bathtub on the edge of town); he also continued to experience hallucinations, irrationality and mental torment
  • as the British dragnet around him closed in tighter, for eight tense hours in a series of expressionistic chase sequences, the increasingly-delirious Johnny was pursued in a manhunt by the police and others - all with their own motives of either helping him, dismissing him out of fear, or exploiting him by turning him in to the authorities to claim the £50,000 reward; they included Johnny's girlfriend Kathleen, his IRA buddy-partners Dennis (Robert Beatty), Pat and Nolan (Dan O'Herlihy) who wanted to rescue him (Pat and Nolan were gunned down after informed upon), informer Theresa O'Brien (Maureen Delaney), law-enforcing police Inspector (Denis O'Dea), hansom cab-driver "Gin" Jimmy (Joseph Tomelty), bird-dealer and poor street con-man/hustler Shell (F. J. McCormick), forgiving Catholic priest and Johnny's childhood teacher Father Tom (W. G. Fay), bar proprietor Fencie (William Hartnell), crazed, bedeviled, and drunken and eccentric homosexual painter Lukey (Robert Newton)
Various Characters Circling Around Johnny

Inspector with Informant Theresa O'Brien

Hansom Cab-Driver "Gin" Jimmy

Bird-Dealer and Poor Street Hustler Shell

Catholic Priest Father Tom

Bar Proprietor Fencie

Crazed, Drunken and Eccentric Homosexual Painter Lukey
  • Johnny additionally imagined faces from conversations of people who he had recently been confronted by, in the bubbles of his spilled beer on the counter in Mr. Fencie's bar, and later in Lukey's studio lined with paintings, Johnny experienced a delirious vision of the paintings flying off the wall

Flying Paintings
Faces in Beer Bubbles
  • in the film's visual religious symbolism of crucifixion, McQueen became a Christ-like figure as a condemned man slowly approaching death - when brought to Lukey's building, McQueen was compelled to pose for the painter for endless hours as a model for a series of Christ paintings; the artist was obsessed with painting the eyes of the dying man as he noted: ("there's something to be said about him before he dies...I understand what I see in him....It's the truth about us all....He's doomed"); he discussed his obsession with failed ex-medical intern student Tober (Elwyn Brook-Jones), Shell's house-mate, who was attempting to treat the seriously-wounded Johnny
  • with a low-angled view of Johnny with a sling on his arm, he delivered a crazed hallucinatory recitation of the Bible (I Corinthians 13) from words he learned from Father Tom as a child: ("I remember. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I thought as a child, I understood as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not charity, I am become a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. Though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge and though I have all faiths so that I could remove mountains and have not charity, I am nothing"); Lukey reacted: "He's mad, he's out of his mind"
  • in the powerful and violent finale in a very snowy Belfast, girlfriend Kathleen finally met up with Johnny; he thought she was another dreamy vision - he asked: "Is it really you?...If you are real, stretch out your hand to mine"; she rushed into his arms and embraced him; he then asked: "What d'you want with me? Go back to life and peace" - she assured him: "I'll stay with you, my love"; he told her: "Hold up your head. Don't cry"
  • at the sound of a foghorn of a ship announcing its imminent departure at the waterfront, she told him that she had arranged for their escape: "That's our chance. Will you take it with me?"; he asked: "Is it far?" and she promised: "Keep holding my hand" - she slowly assisted him to the dock as the police manhunt closed in on them - and their ship was leaving without them in the distance; when he tired and fell back against an iron gate (with arms extended in a crucifix pose), he wondered: "Kathleen, where are you?" - and she responded: "It's all right, Johnny. I'm here"; again, he asked: "Is it far?" - she told him: "It's a long way Johnny, but I'm coming with you - we're going away together"
  • Kathleen had protectively decided to transcendentally and romantically sacrifice herself with Johnny rather than let him endure capture and execution; she reached into her pocket, pulled out a gun seen in closeup, and fired two shots as the police approached closer; it was ambiguous whether she fired at the police to force them to retaliate, or killed Johnny to prevent him from being captured by the police; they were both left dead by police in a barrage of return gunfire (off-screen), and expired in each other's arms on the snow-covered ground; the Inspector was informed: "There's their gun, sir" - he inspected the gun: "Two shots fired," and was told in the film's final line of dialogue: "Yes sir, that's when we had to fire back" - the sound of the foghorn (with the departing ship) ended the film as witnesses Father Tom and Shell walked away from the tragic scene

Crucifix Pose Against Iron Gate

"I'm coming with you"

"We're going away together"

Kathleen's Two Shots

Bodies in Snow

("Two shots fired") - "Yes sir, that's when we had to fire back"

Johnny McQueen (James Mason)

Johnny's Planned Robbery Compatriots, Including Kathleen (in back)

Kathleen (Kathleen Ryan)

Johnny Left Behind After Robbery - Stranded in Streets of Belfast

On the Run - As a Delirious Fugitive

Johnny Reclining in Washtub

Wandering in Snow

Lukey: "There's something to be said about him before he dies..."

Johnny Posing As Model for Lukey, As Tober Operated

Johnny's Recitation of I Corinthians 13

Last Moments Together


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