Lemmy Caution wrote:
There is certainly a difference and change of pace and styles takes over.
I always thought it was intentional, as after the heist goes wrong, James Mason's Johnny exists in a fever dream, while other elements of society react to him and/or use him for their own means. He's no longer in control, the organization is helpless to save him, and he gets buffeted by the times and whims of those who encounter him.
Oh, I never thought of the narrative in this way. Certainly, Reed puts in visual commentary/foreshadowing of Johnny's loss of control, like the shot of him breaking his shoe string in Kathleen's bedroom after he attempts to reassure her that the heist will "go fine". I can't help but compare this way of observing the film to The Third Man
, the more famous film that Reed would make two years later. In that film the quick cutting and fast pace of the narrative seems to contribute to the main character, Holly Martin's, bewilderment. Of course, Martins doesn't flip about Vienna with a mortal wound like Johnny McQueen - and this may be the factor that contributes to the contrast in pacing of the two films. Accordingly, The Third Man
has a far more consistent pacing than Odd Man Out
, though I'm not sure how far we can push this psycho-narrative approach. After all, Odd Man Out
starts with a bird's eye view of the city in which the events will occur so, going in, you assume Reed will attempt an objective (3rd person?) approach to the story. Also, Reed could hardly have made a film which sympathized with a anti-hero like Johnny McQueen in the late 40s, though some argue it's a salient point of the noir film.
The style of the noir film is a salient aspect of Reed's approach. High contrasts, distorted angle shots, blaring music, changing of focus (often within the same shot!), etc. give the initial part of the film the feel of a thriller. It's all jettisoned by the last act and I wonder, in retrospect, if the film is a kind of gradual visual dismantling of the thriller as a genre.
For one example, if you watch the progression of shots involving the framing of Johnny's gun it's featured as a murder weapon, a household curio and, finally, gutter waste. Ordinarily, I suppose any number of films involving a bungled heist feature revolvers in a similar fashion but Reed, employing his particular framing, reduces the perceived potency of the weapon until it's ultimately discarded. It's literally, in this case, a throwaway device, but also a very effective visual.
Perhaps a reading of F.L. Green's 1945 novel is in order. After all, it's what Reed, Green and co-writer, R.C. Sherriff had to work with for the film. The two-part structure of the novel explains some of the change of approach by Reed but a knowledge of the source material may reveal not only what elements of the story Reed saw fit to include, embellesh or omit altogether for his telling but what specific filmic devices he uses to convey them. (The first chapter comes as a complete surprise after being aquainted with the film for so long; particularly in the way that fear, and more specifically, dread, is introduced as the runing undercurrent for all that is to follow. The character who inhabits this terrible forboding may surprise an admirer of the film who has never read the book but will make complete sense in retrospect. I'm not yet sure what this dred is fueled by or what its contemporary analogy signified (Belfast, Ireland, inheritance of the civil war, etc.) but I'm certainly looking forward to the rest of it.)