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The Odessa File Movie Review

schell obligatory sequence voight

This untidy, overlong potboiler didn't do much for Jon Voight's career; in fact, except for 1976's End of the Game, he vanished from the big screen until his Oscar-winning performance in 1978's Coming Home. Frederick Forsyth wrote the best-selling novel (about a 1963 Nazi conspiracy based in Hamburg) that inspired it and Ronald (The Poseidon Adventure) Neame directs with his usual melodramatic style. Every cliche you can possibly imagine is recycled in this “thriller.” There is the obligatory sequence when the heroine whines to the hero “I may not be here when you get back,” before he sets off for Adventures Unknown. On the other hand, there is the obligatory sequence when the villain asks the hero if he can smoke and—voila!—the cigarette and his gun just happen to be in the same drawer. And, as the pièce de résistance, there is the obligatory sequence when some crazy Nazi screams about ruling the world. The best thing about The Odessa File is Maria Schell's cameo appearance. In five vivid moments, Schell reveals more about the tragic consequences of war than the lumbering 128 minutes that surround her all-too-brief appearance. (If you have a problem accepting Maria Schell, 48, as the mother of Jon Voight, 36, though, you're not alone!)

1974 (PG) 128m/C GB GE Jon Voight, Mary Tamm, Maximilian Schell, Maria Schell, Derek Jacobi, Peter Jeffrey, Klaus Lowitsch, Kurt Meisel, Hannes Meesember, Garfield Morgan, Shmuel Rodensku, Ernst Schroder, Noel Willman, Hans Canineberg, Towje Kleiner, Gunnar Moiler; D: Ronald Neame; W: Kenneth Ross, George Markstein; C: Oswald Morris; M: Andrew Lloyd Webber. VHS, LV, Closed Caption

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