Based on Frederick Forsyth’s novel of the same name, THE ODESSA FILE is a classic thriller set in Hamburg in the winter of 1963. The film tells the story of a German reporter who is investigating the missing Nazi war criminals, who had committed serious crimes against the Jewish population, and are now placed high in the society living under false identities.
The story starts with the day Nov 22nd, 1963, the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated, as the news goes on air. A young German reporter Peter Miller (John Voight) while listening to the radio report follows an ambulance to a suicide site where he discovered from the police that an elderly Jewish Holocaust survivor has committed suicide.
Although at first, he did not pay heed to the suicide case in the wake of the Kennedy assassination news, he received a diary from a policeman friend who wanted Miller to find something from that and create some story of human interest. The diary was left behind by the deceased Jewish old man.
Upon reading the diary, Miller discovered startling facts about a German war criminal Eduard Roschmann (Maximilian Schell), a SS officer, who had executed thousands under his command. In an attempt to reconcile his past and to track down and expose noted war criminals, who are now organized under the name ODESSA, he started investigating the past.
The Odessa File (1974) – Movie Trailer
ODESSA is an acronym for the German phrase “Organisation der Ehemaligen SS-Angehörigen”, which translates as “Organization of Former Members of the SS”.
SS organization was a part of German paramilitary forces under Adolf Hitler. Built on the Nazi ideology, many SS officers committed serious crimes against humanity during World War II (1939–45). The organization was later banned after 1945; hence, officers under the organization had no option but to live under false identities to avoid action from the International criminal court.
Coming back to the storyline, Miller found that his investigation has been interrupted by the Odessa group, however, with the help of an Israeli secretive group he tried to get to the bottom of Odessa and those involved in the systematic sponsored murder of Jewish in Germany.
The most intriguing aspect of the film The Odessa File is its unexpected denouement. Furthermore, Voight’s convincing performance makes it a perfect Cold War suspense thriller.
Starring: Jon Voight, Maximilian Schell, Maria Schell, and Mary Tamm
Direction: Ronald Neame
Screenplay by Kenneth Ross and George Markstein
Based on The Odessa File by Frederick Forsyth
Cast: Jon Voight, Mary Tamm, Maximilian Schell, and Maria Schell.
Cinematography: Oswald Morris
Release Date: October 18, 1974