HUNT (director: Fritz Lang;
screenwriters: from the novel "Rogue Male" by
Geoffrey Household/Dudley Nichols; cinematographer:
Arthur Miller; editor: Allen McNeil; music: Alfred Newman;
Pidgeon (Captain Alan Thorndike), Joan Bennett (Jerry
Stokes), George Sanders (Major Quive-Smith), John
Carradine (Mr. Jones), Roddy McDowall (Vaner), Ludwig
Stossel (Doctor), Heather Thatcher (Lady Alice
Risborough), Frederick Worlock (Lord Gerald Risborough),
Roger Imhof (Captain Jensen); Runtime: 102;
MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Darryl F. Zanuck/Kenneth
Macgowan/Len Hammond; Fox Home Entertainment;
"This farfetched thriller offers some well-crafted noir-like breathtaking chase sequences that are tense and absorbing."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Fritz Lang ("M"/"Western Union"/"The Return of Frank James") directs this involving Hollywood espionage thriller taking place on the onset of World War II. It started out as a 1939 magazine article by Geoffrey Household in Atlantic Monthly Magazine and was in that same year published as a novel entitled "Rogue Male." Dudley Nichols is the screenwriter who awkwardly waters down in tone much in the novel but still retains its exciting development of a big game hunter being hunted down in London by Gestapo agents.
Captain Alan Thorndike (Walter Pidgeon) is a celebrated
aristocratic English sportsman and adventurer who in
undetected in the closely guarded compound of
Berchtesgaden, where Hitler vacations. The idealist Thorndike takes a practice shot with an unloaded precision
Hitler to showoff his skills as a hunter without
carrying through with the kill (calling this a
'sporting stalk'), and then loads his weapon to
perhaps take another shot but is stopped by a sentry.
Interrogated by the sinister Gestapo head Major
refuses to sign a confession that he was on assignment
from the British government to assassinate Hitler
in order to be freed because that's not true.
The confession is wanted to embarrass the British
internationally and to make it seem as if they were
responsible for starting a future war. Thorndike is tortured and
then thrown off a mountain ledge, but surprises the
Gestapo by escaping from their clutches by hiding,
with the help of a cabin boy (Roddy McDowall), as a stowaway on a
Danish steamer conveniently sailing for London. In
London Thorndike's pursued by a shadowy English-like
Gestapo agent Mr.
Jones (John Carradine), and only
escapes from the clutches of his minions because of
the help from a trusting Cockney prostitute, Jerry Stokes (Joan Bennett). She gives him shelter
and taxi fare to his brother's estate, while falling
in love with him. There Thorndike tells his diplomat
fantastic tale and how he must hide out somewhere in
Great Britain or else the Nazis will carry out their
The best scene is the
exciting chase sequence in the London Underground, with the deadly Mr. Jones
The well-executed thriller,
one of Lang's lesser works, is spoiled by a story so
incredulous that it seems like just so much Hollywood
nonsense and is ruined further by Bennett's phony
Cockney accent and stilted acting. If the viewer can
get over these shortcomings, this farfetched thriller
offers some well-crafted noir-like breathtaking chase
sequences that are tense and absorbing.
REVIEWED ON 2/4/2012 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ