The Odessa File [Import]
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The year is 1963. The place: Hamburg, Germany. An elderly Jewish man commits suicide, leaving a diary which falls into the hands of a freelance newspaperman, Peter Miller (Jon Voight). The diary documents the unspeakable crimes of cruelty, torture and mass murder perpetrated by SS Captain Eduard Roschmann (Maximilian Schell), commandant of the notorious wartime deathcamp at Riga, Latvia. Miller launches a personal manhunt to track down Roschmann, an investigation that leads him into the very heart of Odessa, a powerful secret organization formed by the SS to protect and re-establish its fugitive members throughout the world. When Miller finds Roschmann, he learns that the former Nazi is now the leader of a weaponry complex of international, strategic consequence.
An overeager German journalist (Jon Voight) discovers a long-buried secret plot beginning to resurface in this moderately compelling, surprisingly straightforward adaptation of a novel by conspiracy whiz Fredrick (Day of the Jackal) Forsythe. Although this somewhat pokey suspenser never quite flows the way a classic espionage thriller should, it does offer a number of compelling diversions along the way, including a blessedly nonhammy (and impressively accented) performance by Voight, Derek Jacobi's amusingly Freudian supporting turn, and a tremendously physical hand-to-hand confrontation in a print shop that leaves no pane of glass intact. Maximillian Schell's scenery-chewing, deliciously evil cameo almost makes this worth the watch by itself. Andrew Lloyd Webber composed the garishly florid (yet somehow effective) score. --Andrew Wright --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The Odessa File (1974) takes the popular Frederick Forsyth novel of the same name, which is supposedly based on actual facts and events, and presents it as a truly wonderful, tense thriller that I really enjoyed. Directed by accomplished cinematographer and director Ronald Neame, the film stars Jon Voight as freelance German journalist Peter Miller and Maximilian Schell as an ex-German officer named Eduard Roschmann, a man responsible for horrible atrocities, earning him the nickname 'The Butcher', during his tenure as head of a concentration camp which housed Jewish prisoners. After the passing of an elderly Jewish survivor of a WWII concentration camp, Miller comes into possession of a diary kept by the man, one which detailed, in particular, the various crimes against humanity by Roschmann, and also seemed to indicate that the war criminal may still be alive. As Miller begins delving into the story, uncovering tidbits of information, he meets resistance in the form of various individuals, many of which turn out to be members of the secret Odessa organization, and are now actively working against Miller for fears that he may uncover their secrets.Read more ›
It is definitely a Forsyth story with a good mixture of fact, myth, and plausibility. Well it could happen. The film is permeated with rising action; in several places you have no time to catch your breath. You will find your self kibitzing as "Don't make that phone call!"
The story was best told with black and white flashbacks to explain what happened in history to support today's (1974) action.
Reporter, Peter Miller comes in possession of a diary of a man that survived Riga concentration camp. Something he reads encourages him to seek SS Captain Eduard Roschmann, the commandant of the camp, who was presumed dead. In his endeavor he is thwarted at every turn by the authorities. Finally one posing as a doctor confirms Roshmann's existence by his very insistent that Roschmann is dead.
In the beginning we hear of President Kennedy's death which triggers the end of innocents. This combined with the overlapping plot of the Egyptians to build missiles, overlays Peter's personal pursuit with that of a Jewish organization attempting to infiltrate the Odessa (Organisation der ehemaligen SS-Angehörigen),an organization to reorganize and protect prominent people that where in the "National Socialist German Workers' Party".
Will Peter succeed with his mission (what ever it is) or will he be hindered by the Jewish organization? Will the organization succeed in thwarting the Egyptian missile plot or be hindered by Peter? Is SS Captain Roschmann still alive and if so what is he up to.
This is a great detective story, but there is little action, no sex and almost no humour. Many would argue that one should not expect these elements in a plot set against the historical background of the Holocaust. Nearly all the Germans are heavy stereotypes -- humourless, cold, threatening, and occasionally explosive.
This DVD is definitely worth watching every 10 years or so, but I cannot say that it rewards more frequently repeated viewing.
The score, such as it is, reveals Andrew Lloyd Webber in his jazz-rock phase between 'Jesus Christ Superstar' and 'Variations'. Jon Voight does a great job as the sincere protagonist freelance journalist. Perhaps the big winner from this movie was Derek Jacobi, playing the troubled printer of false papers for the Odessa. He demonstrated that, with a couple of orange eyebrows stuck on, he could become a totally different personality -- ideal preparation for his masterful role in BBC's I CLAUDIUS a couple of years later.
Most recent customer reviews
excellent film/ very true to the time period/ apparently actually used to flush out the real war criminal in the 70's.Published 8 months ago by steve salmon
A bit of nostalgia here, with the Cold War still going on and a young Jon Voigt. It is as good now as when I saw it many years ago.Published 8 months ago by Allan Weiiss
AN INTERESTING MOVIE BUT PROBABLY SOME REAL BASIC FACT IN SOME INSTANCES OF THE SECRET ORGANIZATIONS THE GERMAN SS HAD AFTER THE WAR IN AN ATTEMPT TO ESCAPE THE CONSEQUENCES OF... Read morePublished 14 months ago by ERIC S. JACOBSEN
What a classic film. Based on book by Frederick Forsythe... A very young Jon Voight, and many fine European actors. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Midge
Still very interesting after so many years. The quality of the image was also very good.Published 19 months ago by Sylvia Somers