Odd Man Out Starring: James Mason, Robert Newton, William Hartnell Director: Carol Reed The film: Although its claim to have been 'the most exciting motion picture ever made' might have been a bit optimistic, Carol Reed's Odd Man Out was one of the most critically acclaimed movies of the 1940s, in some cases even more so than his better-known The Third Man (1949). It was shown to a full house at this year's Cannes Film Festival as part of Reed's centenary celebrations, and has just been released on DVD in a restored special edition. James Mason (right) plays Johnny McQueen, the leader of a terrorist cell (ostensibly the IRA) in the city of Belfast who finds himself on the run in Belfast after a fund-raising bank robbery goes wrong. Over the course of a day and an evening he drags himself around wet and gloomy streets looking for help and treatment for a gunshot wound, and in this politically and religiously divided community, gets a mixed reception. And all the while, his girlfriend, with the help of the local priest, is also trying to track him down before the police do. This very noirish thriller carries loud echoes of early Hitchcock and German Expressionist cinema, the latter being down to the fact that Australian cinematographer Robert Krasker (Brief Encounter, The Quiet American) studied his craft in Germany in the 1930s. Odd angles and vivid lighting setups, trademarks of Both Krasker and Reed, abound throughout. James Mason just about gets away with his Irish accent, and puts in a performance that's at least on a par with anything else on his 150- film resume. The supporting cast was mostly comprised of regulars at Dublin's Abbey Theatre, providing a rare glimpse of Irish talent that had until then generally avoided any association the English film industry. Odd Man Out was the first of a run of three consecutive high points in Reed's career. The other two were the Graham Greene-penned The Fallen Idol (1948) and The Third Man, and he spent the rest of his career trying to equal their critical and commercial success. He came close only once more, in 1968 with the musical Oliver!, which won a best director Oscar, took the best picture award, and received another 10 nominations. Reed made just two more minor films, and died in 1976. The extras: Fairly generous in this department but nothing spectacular. The first is a 12-minute TV interview with Mason from 1972, which is unedited and presented in a series of rough takes and sometimes unanswered questions. The longest is a 50-minute documentary entitled Home James, also made in 1972, which features Mason returning to his hometown of Huddersfield in Yorkshire and gamely trying to promote its 'seductive' charms. This will be mostly of interest to viewers from that part of the world. A substantial rolling gallery of production and promotional visuals runs for about 10 minutes, and if you put the DVD in your PC, you can download a PDF facsimile of the original production script. A 24-page booklet with an extensive essay on Reed, Mason, and the making of Odd Man Out and its reception, and some re-release press book excerpts, is also included.