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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
The Odessa File (1974)

The Odessa File (1974)

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Released 19-Sep-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-The Guns Of Navarone, The China Syndrome
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1974
Running Time 123:17 (Case: 128)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Ronald Neame

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Jon Voight
Maximilian Schell
Maria Schell
Mary Tamm
Derek Jacobi
Peter Jeffrey
Klaus Löwitsch
Kurt Meisel
Hannes Messemer
Garfield Morgan
Shmuel Rodensky
Ernst Schröder
Günter Strack
Case ?
RPI $14.95 Music Andrew Lloyd Webber

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Following World War II many of Hitler's SS, fearing the war-crimes charges that the Allies would bring against them, adopted new identities and blended back into German society or fled Europe for South America. Throughout the following years German and Allied governments hunted down former SS members to bring them to trial for their part in Hitler's infamous death camps. To protect themselves, the former SS members established a secret society, the ODESSA, which used the considerable wealth that the SS had smuggled out of Germany to protect its members. Former SS members infiltrated all areas of West German Government and business and used their positions to obfuscate and delay investigations, and to provide new identities for those members who were discovered and were in danger of trial.

    The ODESSA File is set in West Germany in 1963, a period where many Germans just wanted to forget the past, but pursuit of former SS members; particularly those involved in the Haulocast; was still active. Peter Miller (Jon Voight) is a free-lance journalist who is unconcerned with Nazi-hunting until a suicide story he is covering uncovers the diary of the victim, a Jew who survived the horrors of the Riga concentration camp. The diary tells the story of his time in Riga, and the brutality of its commandant, Captain Eduard Roschmann (Maximilian Schell) - known as "the Butcher of Riga" - who the old man had seen alive a few days before his suicide.

    Moved by what he had read, Miller decides to track Roschmann down and begins making enquiries into Roschmann's past and possible present. The ODESSA soon learns of Miller's investigation and threatens Miller, even attempting to kill him, in order to stop the investigation. Miller, however, is tenacious and sees the threats as an indication that he is getting close to his goal so continues to investigate.

    Miller's investigations also attract the attention of Israeli Security, who see Miller as their chance to break the ODESSA open. Persuading Miller to assist them, they arrange for Miller to impersonate a former SS sergeant on the run. He is to infiltrate the ODESSA and discover their operations Once inside the ODESSA organisation, Miller is alone and playing a deadly game where one small mistake could be fatal.

    While getting a new identity from the ODESSA, Miller discovers a file that lists a large number of former SS members and their new identities, including Roschmann who is now a leading businessman. Armed with this new information, Miller continues to track Roschmann down. Miller's motivation for tracking Roschmann is only revealed in the final scenes of the film.

    Based on the Frederick Forsyth novel of the same name, The ODESSA File is a taunt thriller that follows the book closely and has all the Forsyth trademarks of meticulous research and an accurate basis on which the story is built. There actually was an organisation known as ODESSA, Eduard Roschmann did exist and a sub-plot of the film and book, missiles being developed for Egypt for use against Israel in the Egypt-Israeli war, actually did take place. Forsyth is one of the best fiction writers of this genre and this movie, while not being able to give as much detailed background as the book, is one of those rare adaptations that does justice to the novel.

    I enjoyed this film version. While not ranking as one of the best films I have seen, it is still a good thriller. Well scripted and well acted, it drew me into the story and held me for the full duration, even though I had read the book and knew the outcome.

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Transfer Quality


    Presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and 16x9 enhanced, this transfer is not too bad for a 1974 film. There are a number of artefacts present, but by and large the transfer is acceptable.

    Film artefacts are the most common problem, with black specks and dust apparent on a number of occasions, most notably at around 2:27 and 36:25. The specks are only apparent for a brief period on each occasion, but are enough to be somewhat distracting. These are clearly a result of damage to the source material.

    Also at about 2:27 there is a noticeable skipped frame and there is an annoying judder that occurs for a couple of seconds around 117:30.

    Colour is a little muted throughout, as is common for film of this age. Not poor quality, but just not as vibrant and rich as more recent movies.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    A Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track is provided, but as this is a dialogue based movie, most of the sound is from the centre speaker. There is some left and right panning on some effects, but the centre is pretty much where it all happens. There is little, if any, work for the rears and sub-woofer. Again, this is to be expected from a movie produced in the mid 1970s.

    There is nothing really to criticise with the audio. It is a workman-like effort that neither impresses nor depresses. Just a good solid transfer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The menu is static and there are a few very spartan extras included.

    A series of filmographies for Ronald Neame (Director), Jon Voight and Maximilian Schell. No sound or movement, just a film list for each.

    A trailer for The Odessa File (1:56) and two other movies from the same stable, The Guns Of Navarone (3:41) and The China Syndrome (1:56). These are presented in full screen 1.33:1 aspect ratio, The Guns Of Navarone being 1.33:1 letterboxed.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Region 1 gets a 1.33:1 cropped version along with the 2.35:1 widescreen version, cast and crew biographies and production notes, but only English and Spanish subtitles and Dolby Digital 1.0 sound.

    Region 4 gets a swag of subtitles, Dolby Digital 2.0 sound and the filmographies. Both versions get trailers.

    Not much in it then, so I'll call it a tie.


    An entertaining thriller that is almost as good as the book on which it's based. Performances are generally good and Frederick Forsyth's research and accuracy is evident throughout the film. While not a transfer to get excited about, it is quite acceptable despite its occasional flaws. If you like a good thriller, you will enjoy this one. A film that probably won't make your "best ever" list, but an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.

    Not exactly a bare-bones offering, but not far off it, the extras are of limited appeal. The audio and video quality are acceptable, but not great. Still, at less than $15, it may be worth the purchase.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Glen Randall (If you're really bored, you can read my bio)
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-1200Y, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TH-42PV500A 42" HD Plasma. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V596
SpeakersRichter Wizard fronts, Richter Lynx centre, Richter Hydra rears, Velodyne CT-100 sub-woofer

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