PROBABLY CONTAINS SPOILERS OF BOTH THE BOOK AND THE MOVIE!!!
If you've never read Geoffrey Household's Rogue Male, the source material for Man Hunt, you'll likely enjoy Fritz Lang's treatment of the story. On the other hand, if you're in my camp and have practically memorized the book, the movie will be a crashing disappointment. I'll assume you've already read a synopsis of the story, and proceed to my complaints. Household's little novel is one of the all-time great suspense classics, taut and spare, with only a bare handful of characters to propel the action. Fritz Lang and his screen writer Dudley Nichols feel the need to throw in the protagonist's brother and a sympathetic floozy, the latter of which reduces the depth of the story by injecting an extrinsic motivation into the screenplay where the novel needed none. In fact, the true climax of the book was not the nameless narrator's escape from his underground lair, but rather his self-acceptance of his true motive for going on his hunt in the first place. And that's another thing: if David Fincher and Quentin Tarantino can get us all the way through Fight Club and Kill Bill 1 without revealing the names of their respective protagonists, why can't Lang? "Thorndyke?" What hat did they pull that out of? Which brings me to my bitterest complaint: Household's hunter is so quintessentially British,he would bleed a Union Jack if you cut him. But Walter Pigeon, who plays him, is Canadian! He can barely sustain the accent, which is only slightly deeper and more convincing that Kevin Costner's in Robin Hood. He looked about right in the role, and was a fine actor for the 1940s,but as Rogue Male's reluctant hero? Let's look to the Sceptered Isle itself for a more convincing version. Remake soon with subtlety and with, please! I'll direct it for free
If you saw this movie in the theaters 25 years ago and walked out hating it, give it another chance. Just don't see "RW" right beforehand. No reason to hobble your experience with unrealistic expectations.
Oh, and my spoiler? My one complaint: In the climatic fight scene, Tommy Lee Jones' LT character takes more knife damage than appears survivable. I could be wrong, but it looked like he would have been in MUCH worse shape (as in wheelchair bound for life) by the end of the thing.
But 20+ years later, the violence scale has slipped enough that when you get past the ooze and the blood and the ripping teeth, you're left with a model of paranoia-packed, "who-can-you-trust?" invasion-type Sci-Fi. The cast's performances and the taut dialogue really string you out then leave you hanging -- in a great way. And Ennio Morricone's understated score perfectly seals the deal. Carpenter should have called him up when he started production of "The Mouth of Madness."
If you're looking for a good Cold War alien yarn, and you want something a little harder-edged than "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," but didn't enjoy the remake, give "The Thing" a spin. You won't be disappointed.