War Crimes

The O.D.E.S.S.A. File: adapted by Kenneth Ross and George Markstein from the novel by Frederick Forsyth; directed by Ronald Neame; starring Jon Voight (Peter Miller), Maximilian Schell (Eduard Roschmann), Maria Schell (Frau Miller), Mary Tamm (Sigi), and Derek Jacobi (Klaus Wenzer) (1974): Enjoyable conspiracy thriller set in 1963-64 sees West German journalist Jon Voight on the trail of escaped Nazi war criminals. They’re members of the SS who have been given new identities by the ODESSA organization, which is itself made up of SS members.

And unbeknownst to Voight, he’s on the clock: a technology firm headed by one war criminal is about to deliver missile guidance systems to Egypt to use in missiles to destroy Israel. Voight and Mary Tamm (the first Romana on Doctor Who) are very good as the leads. Maximilian Schell really only has one big scene as (real) SS officer Eduard Roschmann, while Derek Jacobi is at his squirmy best as a conflicted associate of the ODESSA.

Simon Wiesenthal appears as himself to help Voight in his quest, which also gets aid from the Mossad, who’ve been trying to infiltrate ODESSA for decades. This is an old-school 1970’s style conspiracy thriller — the ODESSA have infiltrated ever facet of West German government and business — complete with a journalist hero who rapidly becomes a very competent action hero once he hears the call of duty. Recommended.

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