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EIFF Celebrates 60th Edition with Closing Night Classic

The Closing Night of this year's Festival represents a double celebration: the 60th edition of the EIFF and the restoration of a masterpiece of British cinema that's every bit as old and has matured j...

The Closing Night of this year's Festival represents a double celebration: the 60th edition of the EIFF and the restoration of a masterpiece of British cinema that's every bit as old and has matured just as well.

Odd Man Out was first released to international critical acclaim in 1947, placing director Carol Reed, as the BFI noted at the time, “high into the first rank of film directors.” It formed the first part of a triumvirate of releases in successive years, along with The Fallen Idol and The Third Man, which secured Reed’s place in cinema history.

Its subject matter is, presciently, as relevant today as then: the ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland. James Mason plays escaped convict Johnny McQueen, whose need to raise funds for ‘The Organisation’ drives him to take part in the failed heist of a Belfast mill. Wounded, delirious and abandoned by his comrades, he is forced to scour the city streets for refuge. McQueen is alternately succoured, exploited and betrayed by his fellow countrymen as the police close in.

Mason’s performance as the anti-hero is flawless, a paean to humanity through physical and emotional deterioration. The episodic narrative is underpinned by a visual unity, Robert Krasker’s high contrast cinematography imbuing a noir sensibility, which is evident in his subsequent collaboration with Reed, The Third Man. A new print allows contemporary audiences to experience the combined skill of the two masters of their craft in striking detail.

This is a unique opportunity to re-assess a forgotten classic and recognise its place in the canon of one of the greatest directors these shores have seen.

Odd Man Out  is showing on 26 August.

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