Odd Man Out (1947) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • A wounded Irish nationalist leader attempts to evade police following a failed robbery in Belfast.

  • Johnny McQueen, leader of a clandestine Irish organization, has been hiding in the house of Kathleen and her mother, planning a hold-up that will provide his group with the funds needed to continue its activities. During the hold-up, things go sour: Johnny is wounded, cannot make it back to the hideout, and disappears in the back-alleys of Belfast. Immediately, a large-scale man-hunt is launched, and the city is tightly covered by the constabulary, whose chief is intent on capturing Johnny and the other members of the gang. Kathleen sets out in search of Johnny.

  • In Northern Ireland, Johnny McQueen is the leader of an underground organization that needs funds to keep it in action. Johnny was in prison and has broken jail. His hideout for the last six months is in the house of Kathleen Sullivan, who has fallen in love with him, and her grandmother. Johnny plots a factory heist to raise funds but the scheme does not work as planned and Johnny is wounded and kills a man. The clumsy driver of the runaway car panics and leaves Johnny on the street. The police organize a manhunt with a great number of policemen while Johnny's gang seeks him out. While trying to reach the hideout, Johnny is helped and betrayed while Kathleen and a priest try to find salvation for him.

  • In need of cash to distribute among its supporters, IRA gunman Johnny McQueen and 3 colleagues rob a local textile mill. They don't quite get away cleanly however - Johnny kills a clerk and is himself seriously wounded. Unable to get away with his colleagues, Johnny spends a long day trying to find shelter and medical care. The locals are for the most part supportive, though equally frightened of helping him. The police scour the city looking for him with the police inspector involved focusing a good deal of his attention on Kathleen, the young woman who loves him. When Kathleen sets out to find him, the police are close behind.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • The film's opening intertitle reads:

    "This story is told against a background of political unrest in a city of Northern Ireland. It is not concerned with the struggle between the law and an illegal organisation, but only with the conflict in the hearts of the people when they become unexpectedly involved."

    The city and the organisation are never explicitly named, but the protagonist, Johnny McQueen (James Mason), is the IRA-like group's leader in the city (presumably Belfast). Johnny has been hiding the past six months since his escape from prison in a house occupied by Kathleen Sullivan (Kathleen Ryan) - who loves him - and her grandmother.

    Johnny has been ordered to rob a mill to obtain funds for his nationalist IRA group. His men, however, are a bit uneasy about his fitness for the task, having noticed a change in him since his escape; he has expressed his new belief that negotiation might achieve their goals more effectively than violence. Dennis (Robert Beatty) offers to take his place, but Johnny turns him down.

    The next day, Johnny, Nolan (Dan O'Herlihy) and Murphy break into the mill office and hold the clerks at gunpoint to demand the money. As they leave with the money, Johnny is confronted by an armed cashier. Johnny is shot in his upper left arm before he returns fire and kills the cashier. The getaway driver, Pat (Cyril Cusack), drives off at high speed before Johnny is fully inside the getaway car. Johnny falls off. While his confederates argue about what to do, Johnny gets up and dashes away.

    Upon arrival back at Kathleen's house, Dennis orders the others to report to their headquarters. Along the way that evening, however, the trio arouse the suspicion of the local police, out in force on a manhunt for the robbers. They are pursued, but get away. Pat and Nolan stop off at Theresa O'Brien's place; Murphy does not trust her and goes elsewhere. She betrays the pair to the authorities. As they leave, they are both gunned down after they start shooting.

    Dennis finds Johnny wounded in the street, but the police show up nearby. Dennis is captured after drawing them away.

    Now alone, Johnny makes his way toward Kathleen's place, but collapses in the street. Passersby Maureen and Maudie take him home, thinking he has been struck by a passing lorry. When they discover who he is, Johnny departs before they can call the police and gets into a parked hansom taxicab. "Gin" Jimmy (Joseph Tomelty), the cabdriver, comes out and starts looking for a fare, unaware he has a wanted man for a passenger. When he finds out, he drops Johnny off as quickly as he can before driving away.

    Shell (F. J. McCormick), a local Unionist, spots Gin dumping the now nearly unconscious fugitive. A poor man, Shell goes to Catholic priest Father Tom (W. G. Fay), hoping for a financial reward. By chance, Kathleen arrives shortly afterward, looking for help. Father Tom persuades Shell to fetch Johnny. Shell, while dropping off his pet bird at home, has to fend off another resident, (the possibly mentally unstable) painter Lukey (Robert Newton), who wants him to pose some more for him.

    Meanwhile, Johnny revives and stumbles into a private booth in a crowded bar. Proprietor Fencie (William Hartnell) recognises him; wanting no trouble, he closes his establishment a bit early. He then recruits Shell and the persistent Lukey, who have separately converged on the bar, to take Johnny away in a cab. Over Shell's protests, Lukey takes Johnny back to his studio to paint his portrait. Failed medical student Tober (Elwyn Brook-Jones) tends to Johnny's wound as best he can. Johnny hallucinates, thinking Father Tom is talking to him. Johnny then speaks aloud (drooling crazily throughout) parts of 1 Corinthians 13, first verse 13 ("When I was a child ..."), then 1-2 ("Though I speak ... and have not charity, I am nothing.").

    When a sympathetic Catholic police inspector (Denis O'Dea), who had earlier led a search of Kathleen's home and warned her against getting involved with the IRA, shows up to try to get information from Father Tom, Kathleen slips away. She arranges passage on a ship for Johnny to take him out of the country and goes searching for him. Shell starts Johnny toward Father Tom's, then goes ahead and encounters Kathleen. She takes Johnny to the ship, but finds the police closing in. Nearly incoherent from blood loss due to his bullet wound, Johnny is too far gone to see them. When he asks, "Is it far?", Kathleen replies, "It's a long way, Johnny, but I'm coming with you." She then draws a gun and starts firing, forcing the policemen to shoot back, killing them both.

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