“As long as he lives, he’ll belong to the organization.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
I couldn’t diverge more from Peary’s assessment and overall regard for this film, which I find consistently engaging, innovative, and touching. Robert Krasker’s cinematography is simply stunning (especially so in the new Blu-Ray transfer): one feels instantly dropped into a nightmarish yet all-too-real world of policemen on every corner:
… kids playing innocently while refugees flee:
and (nearly) everyone keeping an eye out for their own needs and goals while also offering a tentative hand of support.
(A notable exception is Maureen Delaney’s creepy portrayal of “Theresa O’Brien”, a supposed IRA supporter whose twitchy eye belies her innate corruption.)
Mason’s performance is top-notch throughout: yes, he “falls down” again and again, but this is clearly because he’s mortally wounded and simply trying to stagger his way to the next reasonable haven.
Rather than a Christ-like figure, one could easily argue that he’s a fatally flawed protagonist, given his unwillingness in opening scenes to cede his power and authority to a capable colleague (Robert Beatty) who is ready and willing to take over —
and his men (Dan O’Herlihy, Roy Irving, and Cyril Cusack) are right to (respectfully) question his fitness for the job.
The other supporting characters — including “his girlfriend (Kathleen Ryan) [who] wants to spend his last hours with him;
a priest (W.G. Ray) [who] wants to hear his confession;
a derelict (F.J. McCormick) [who] wants to hand him to either the priest or the police, whoever can offer him more;
[and] a mad artist (Robert Newton) [who] wants to use him as a model because he has the eyes of a dying man” —
are all part of the surreal cityscape in which the “Irish troubles” play out, with tragic results.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)