Man Hunt DVD
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Directed by Fritz Lang
Produced in 1941
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - American film
Fritz Lang's WWII thriller pits Walter Pidgeon's big game hunter against Hitler and the Third Reich. James Oliver stalks this textbook example of how a great director shapes a picture.
Although made when America was still officially neutral in WWII, Fritz Lang’s Man Hunt is one of a cluster of Hollywood pictures (including such titles as The Great Dictator and Foreign Correspondent) that dropped any pretence of objectivity and showed sceptical American audiences how evil the Nazis really were.
Seventy years on, its propaganda value is somewhat diminished. But as a thriller, Man Hunt really hasn’t aged at all. Indeed, it’s one of the best there is.
It’s set pre-war, in 1939, and our hero is Alan Thorndike (Walter Pidgeon). He’s a celebrated big game hunter but right now he has a different quarry in his sights: Adolf Hitler himself. Thorndike doesn’t mean to kill him – just see if he can. But such sporting bravado cuts no ice with the Gestapo, who take him for an assassin and treat him accordingly.
Thorndike escapes back to Blighty where he’s sheltered by Jerry (Joan Bennett), a young ‘seamstress’. But the Nazis – headed by Quive-Smith (George Sanders at his most effortless) – don’t give up that easily; they don’t merely seek to kill Thorndike but to discredit the entire British empire...
Adapted from Geoffrey Household’s classic thriller Rogue Male, Man Hunt was originally set to be directed by John Ford; but Ford dropped out and the project passed to Fritz Lang, himself a refugee from fascism. Lang had little scope to alter the script but that doesn’t mean he didn’t make his mark. Indeed, the film stands as a textbook example of how a great director shapes a picture.
Just about every frame bears Lang’s stamp – the design, the geometry, the lighting (all those shadows!) – but his influence goes far beyond mere decoration. The visuals are only part of a careful strategy of pacing and emphasis that builds to a climax that’s utterly, distinctively, Langian. It becomes a film about his favourite themes: the permeability of civilisation and the savagery of man. Why, there’s even one of the caves he was so fond of.
As such, it’s the perfect introduction to the films of Fritz Lang. More than that, it is a brilliant bullet of a film that hits its targets dead centre.
James Oliver on 6th December 2010
Author of 146 reviews
A classic WWII thriller from director Fritz Lang (Metropolis), Man Hunt tells the story of British hunter Thorndike (Walter Pidgeon), a man forced on the run from Nazi agents with only a young cockney streetwalker (Joan Bennett) to help him after he takes a pot shot at Hitler.
Publisher: Optimum Releasing
Length: 98 mins
Cat No: OPTD2051
Format: DVD B&W
by Roger Hird on 15th February 2011
Sorry but this was a very disappointing film. The book is pretty much a classic, by far the best Household wrote. The film removes much, adds much and ends up as anot... Read on
Sorry but this was a very disappointing film. The book is pretty much a classic, by far the best Household wrote. The film removes much, adds much and ends up as another bit of simplistic war propaganda with almost none of Household's atmosphere. I'll probably not trouble to watch it a second time. Hide