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 ›
All this counts for nothing. Jon Voight is a German journalist whose family has a Nazi past and who, after reading the diary of a Riga concentration camp survivor, decides to uncover the commandant long missing, presumed dead. His investigative progress is hampered by a supposedly democratic system (police, judiciary, big business etc.), that seems crammed with senior ex-Nazis.
Reasons for the film's failure are legion, but the fatal one is the sacrificing of the 'documentary' angle in favour of a bogus, typically Hollywood personal quest. For all its flaws, Fred Zinneman's 'The Day Of the Jackal' worked because of its distanced style and its refusal to 'psychologise' (sic?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.