This powerful, tragic movie is hard to forget. Odd Man Out tells the story of Johnny McQueen (James Mason), an IRA chief in Northern Ireland. Please note that those things some call spoilers are abundant.
McQueen was sentenced to 17 years for robbery but broke out. Now he has planned to rob a mill to steal money for the cause. He leads three other men and things go wrong. He shoots and kills a clerk and is shot himself. During the chaotic escape he falls from the getaway car and is left on the street. He is seriously injured and probably is bleeding to death. All that evening and into the cold night, increasingly dazed and weak, he struggles to find someplace to rest.
Odd Man Out is really two stories. One is McQueen's. The other is that of Kathleen Sullivan (Kathleen Ryan), the young woman who loves him and is determined to find and save him. She knows he's terribly hurt and that he'll be hanged if he is caught. She won't let that happen. Despite her Catholic faith and the sympathetic counsel of her elderly priest, she'll shoot Johnny and then herself if she must.
Those Johnny McQueen encounters during the sleeting night may want to help him or may want the reward for his capture, but none want to give him shelter. A prosperous, fat madam welcomes Johnny's team and learns where they left Johnny. Then she turns them in and listens as they're shot down in front of her establishment. Two sisters find Johnny lying in the road and take him into their house. They bandage him but cannot keep him, and send him out again into the rain. A crazed painter (Robert Newton), finds him in a bar and takes him to his studio, where he wants to paint the dying face. All the while the police are slowly narrowing their search.
At last Kathleen finds him. Johnny is so dazed and weak he can only know that he is with her now and is safe while she holds him. As they stand against an iron fence, police with flashlights move toward them. Kathleen has a gun, but she finds she cannot use it to take Johnny's life and then her own. So she does what she must. She fires two shots, knowing the police will shoot down both of them.
So is this director Carol Reed's attempt in 1947 to tell a story of redemption or the power of love or the fragile strands humans rely upon? Who knows? I'm not comfortable analyzing a film like Odd Man Out. All I know is that it is bleak, sad and that I’m grateful I saw it.