ⓘ The Odessa File (film)

The Odessa File (film)

ⓘ The Odessa File (film)

The Odessa File is an 1974 espionage thriller film, adapted from the novel of the same name by Frederick Forsyth, about a reporters investigation of a neo-Nazi political-industrial network in post-Second World War West Germany. The film stars Jon Voight, Mary Tamm, Maximilian Schell and Maria Schell and was directed by Ronald Neame, with a score by Andrew Lloyd Webber. It was the only film that the Schell siblings made together.


1. Plot

On 22 November 1963, the day of the John F. Kennedy assassination in Dallas, Peter Miller, a young freelance reporter in Hamburg, West Germany, pulls his car over to the kerb to listen to a radio report of the event. 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 Riga Ghetto during WW II, including the name of the SS officer who ran the camp, Eduard Roschmann.

Determined to hunt Roschmann down, Miller consults with Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal who informs him about ODESSA, a secret organisation for former members of the SS. With this information, and the help of Israeli secret agents based in Germany, 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 at his home and confronts him at gunpoint, revealing that the diary included a passage about Roschmann murdering a fellow German officer during the war, the unique details of which confirm that it was Miller’s father. Miller intends to hand Roschmann to the authorities, but kills him when the Nazi shoots him. The detailed ODESSA files obtained by Miller are used to arrest numerous Nazi war criminals, and Roschmann’s factory mysteriously burns to the ground before any rockets are delivered to Egypt.


2. Cast

  • Noel Willman as Franz Bayer
  • Kurt Meisel as Alfred Oster
  • Jon Voight as Peter Miller
  • Maximilian Schell as Eduard Roschmann
  • Garfield Morgan as Israeli General
  • Mary Tamm as Sigi
  • Klaus Lowitsch as Gustav Mackensen
  • Ernst Schroder as Werner Deilman
  • Hannes Messemer as General Glucks
  • Shmuel Rodensky as Simon Wiesenthal
  • Maria Schell as Frau Miller
  • Derek Jacobi as Klaus Wenzer
  • Peter Jeffrey as David Porath
  • Gunter Strack as Kunik

3. Production

Filming was done on location in Hamburg, Germany; Salzburg, Austria; Heidelberg, Germany; Munich, Germany; at Pinewood Studios, England; and the Bavaria Filmstudios in Grunwald, Bavaria, Germany. It was filmed with Panavision equipment, produced with Eastmancolor technologies.

The films title song, "Christmas Dream", is sung by Perry Como and the London Boy Singers.


4. Reception

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 praised the actors, "Jon Voight does well, making Miller a credible and compelling protagonist. Maximilian Schell is excellent in what amounts to an extended cameo." However, he criticises the filmmakers for simplifying Forsyths novel and dulling its anti-Nazi message.

  • For the 1974 film adaptation, see The Odessa File film The Odessa File is a thriller by Frederick Forsyth, first published in 1972, about the adventures
  • 46.466 30.733 The Odessa massacre is the name given to the mass murder of the Jewish population of Odessa and surrounding towns in the Transnistria Governorate
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