In my profession there is neither good nor bad. There is innocence and guilt, observes the unnamed inspector in Carol Reeds 1947 thriller. Thats the kind of noirish moral ambiguity youd expect from the director of The Third Man; it also suits the films troubled subject matter. Set in Belfast, it follows Johnny McQueen, one of the higher-ups in a secret IRA-like organization. His crew sets out to steal money to fund their operation: the heist goes wrong, hes wounded in the process, and he disappears in the citys labyrinthine streets. In the ensuing dark night of the soul, his supporters and police alike set out to find him. Shot in the same baroque, expressionistic style as The Third Man (but considered even better by some), the film caused controversy by its sympathetic treatment of an IRA terrorist. But the movies star, James Mason, called the McQueen role the best of his career. This is the closing film in The Belcourts excellent Noir Fest 2, so if you missed a film here and there, you have one last chance unlike Johnny.
March 9-11, 2010