The Odessa File (film)
|The Odessa File|
|Directed by||Ronald Neame|
|Produced by||John Woolf|
|Written by||Kenneth Ross
|Based on||The Odessa File
by Frederick Forsyth
|Music by||Andrew Lloyd Webber|
|Edited by||Ralph Kemplen|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$6 million (North American rentals)|
The Odessa File is an Anglo-German 1974 espionage thriller film adaptation of the novel The Odessa File by Frederick Forsyth, about a reporter's investigation of a neo-Nazi political-industrial network in post-World War 2 West Germany. The film stars Jon Voight, Maximilian Schell and Maria Schell and was directed by Ronald Neame, with a score by Andrew Lloyd Webber. It was the only film which the Schell siblings made together.
On 22 November 1963, the day that President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Peter Miller, a young freelance reporter, pulls over to the curb to listen to a radio report of the event in a district in Hamburg, West Germany. As a result, he happens to be stopped at a traffic signal as an ambulance passes by on a highway.
He follows the ambulance and discovers it is en route to pick up the body of an elderly Jewish Holocaust survivor who had committed suicide, leaving behind no family. The reporter obtains the diary of the man, which contains information on his life in the Second World War Riga Ghetto, and the name of the SS officer who ran the camp, Eduard Roschmann. Miller is startled to find that in one passage the diarist mentioned seeing Roschmann shoot and kill an SS officer who was wearing an unusual military decoration. Miller realizes from these details that the officer mentioned was his own father.
Determined to hunt Roschmann down, Miller consults with Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal who informs him about ODESSA, a secret organization of SS veterans. With this information, Miller then dares to go undercover, using an assumed name and forged papers showing him as an SS veteran. He joins and infiltrates the ODESSA and finds Roschmann, who now runs a high-tech company which plans to send radio gyroscopes and biochemical warheads to Egypt to use against Israel. Miller eventually finds Roschmann, confronts him at gunpoint with his knowledge about his father's murder, has a chance to shoot him in revenge, but does not.
ODESSA is an acronym for the German phrase "Organisation der Ehemaligen SS-Angehörigen", which translates as "Organisation of Former Members of the SS".
- Jon Voight – Peter Miller
- Maximilian Schell – Eduard Roschmann
- Maria Schell – Frau Miller
- Mary Tamm – Sigi
- Derek Jacobi – Klaus Wenzer
- Peter Jeffrey – David Porath
- Klaus Löwitsch – Gustav Mackensen
- Kurt Meisel – Alfred Oster
- Günter Meisner – General Greifer
- Hannes Messemer – General Richard Glücks
- Garfield Morgan – Israeli Defence Force General
- Shmuel Rodensky – Simon Wiesenthal
- Ernst Schröder – Werner Deilman
- Günter Strack – Kunik
- Noel Willman – Franz Bayer
- Martin Brandt – Marx
Nora Sayre of The New York Times said, "The film makes its points methodically, almost academically. It also drags because there are many unnecessary transitional passages, devoted to moving the characters from one situation to another. Almost every occurrence is predictable."
Groggy Dundee in Nothing is Written said, "Jon Voight does well, making Miller a credible and compelling protagonist. Maximilian Schell is excellent in what amounts to an extended cameo." However, he criticizes the filmmakers for simplifying Forsyth's novel and dulling its anti-Nazi message.
- The Odessa File at the Internet Movie Database
- The Odessa File at AllMovie
- The Odessa File at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Odessa File in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
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