March 03

Published in On this Day listing

  • 1959 During the Mau Mau uprising against British colonial rule in Kenya, eleven insurgent detainees were clubbed to death in the Hola detention camp. A further 77 sustained serious injuries.
  • 1977 Brian Faulkner (56), last prime minister of Northern Ireland (March 1971–March 1972), was killed in a hunting accident, two days after his reception into the House of Lords.
  • 1947 Carol Reed’s film noir Odd Man Out, set in post-war Belfast with James Mason in the title role, opened in the city’s Classic cinema, off Royal Avenue. A large number of RUC men, in uniform and in plain clothes, were on duty outside, partly because Inspector General (Chief Constable) Sir Richard Pym was in the audience and partly because of the sensitive story-line, the tale of a badly wounded IRA gunman on the run after a botched robbery. Not that the RUC was formally identified in the film, nor indeed the IRA. The latter was identified only as ‘the Organisation’.Local audiences had mixed feelings about it. Some were unhappy with the liberties taken with the city’s topography. The Albert Clock, for instance, had been relocated. Most, however, complained about the lack of authentic Belfast accents amongst the cast. Mason, renowned for his mellow tones, failed to master the local intonations, while there was considerably more of the Liffey than the Lagan in the accents of the Abbey Theatre players who filled most of the supporting roles. All, however, had nothing but praise for the fifteen boys from a Falls Road industrial school who embellished the street scenes with their squabbling, fighting, kicking football and baiting the police. Odd Man Out was, of course, critically acclaimed. It received a Bafta award as best British film (1948) and Reed went on to direct another classic, The Third Man, a few years later. Its success provided a stepping-stone to Hollywood for James Mason, and the boys from St Patrick’s Industrial School were rewarded with a trip to Denham Studios in Buckinghamshire, where most of the indoor scenes were shot.
  • 1918 The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed between the new Bolshevik government of Soviet Russia and the Central Powers.

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