Director: Carol Reed
Year Released: 1947
Actually took me a while to "get into" - I was under the impression it was a suspenseful picture but wound up being surprised when I realized its more wistful and contemplative, that is, regarding the relationship between criminals and society (though perhaps I was thrown off by my sleep deprivation and personal ills). It may very well be the best performance of James Mason's long, proud career (though I haven't seen all of his pictures yet), with him having to "die slowly" as the film progresses (there isn't much time where he's actually "well"). Interesting scenes come and go as the towns people encounter one of their deviants, and how they more or less "pass him off" to each other - not wanting to get their hands dirty - and even exploit him (most of them want/need the reward money, one painter wants to use him as a representation of "death" in a memorable but slightly pointed scene). It's a film noir, technically, since most of the action transpires under the cloak of night, with Mother Nature pouring on the rain and snow in alternate bursts, and with moody lighting creating the most ominous shadows. That Mason is actually playing a Christ-figure did not go unnoticed by me, yet because of the film's obvious pessimism there isn't any redemption for him. It may very well be a masterpiece, but I'll need to see it again to be sure.