7.3/10
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Man Hunt (1941)

Not Rated | | Drama, Thriller, War | 20 June 1941 (USA)
British hunter Thorndike vacationing in Bavaria has Hitler in his gun sight. He is captured, beaten, left for dead, and escapes back to London where he is hounded by German agents and aided by a young woman.

Director:

Fritz Lang

Writers:

Geoffrey Household (novel), Dudley Nichols (screenplay)
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1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Walter Pidgeon ... Captain Thorndike
Joan Bennett ... Jerry
George Sanders ... Quive-Smith
John Carradine ... Mr. Jones
Roddy McDowall ... Vaner
Ludwig Stössel ... Doctor (as Ludwig Stossell)
Heather Thatcher ... Lady Risborough
Frederick Worlock ... Lord Risborough
Roger Imhof ... Captain Jensen
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Storyline

British hunter Thorndike vacationing in Bavaria has Hitler in his gun sight. He is captured, beaten, left for dead, and escapes back to London where he is hounded by German agents and aided by a young woman.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Thriller | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In an Filmwax Radio discussion with Joseph McBride, author of "Searching for John Ford", McBride cited several sources close to the legendary director who recounted discussions they had with Ford regarding his brief envolvement with this film. John Ford was apparently Darryl F. Zanuck's first choice to direct, however when Ford learned that Jewish pro-war bankers were offering to bail Zanuck out of debt if Twentieth Century Fox produced the film, he withrew from negotiations. He was quoted as saying "they wanted "Man Hunt" to look like an anglo project, which is why they went to Zanuck and why he suggested me. They even offered me twice my standard salary at the time. It seemed very devious so I passed - but I wisely kept my mouth shut." See more »

Goofs

London tube trains have a unique 4-rail electrification scheme - a third rail in the usual outside position at 420 volts and an unusual center rail at -210 volts. The movie's tunnel set has only the center rail. See more »

Quotes

Captain Alan Thorndike: I present you with this dangerous weapon, madmoiselle, with my undying gratitude and admiration. May you never lodge it in the wrong heart.
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Soundtracks

God Save the King!
(uncredited)
Traditional
[Attributed to Thomas Augustine Arne and Henry Carey]
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User Reviews

 
Hunter's duel

For me the central point of what is a multifaceted movie is one of ethics. Captain Thorndike is a big game hunter of repute who never shoots his prey, he gets it in his sights and then recognises that he's "won the game". He's essentially an anarchist in that he talks at several points about being against all forms of force (politically speaking some types of anarchists generally talk in terms of the path of least coercion). He is faced with a decision, which fortunately, few of us in the country where most of this film is shot (the UK), have to make any more. When one is faced with extreme murderous brutality (the Nazis), extinguishing personal freedoms, should one fight back with lethal force? People have called this aspect of the movie propagandist, a manipulative attempt to get the USA to join the war, but I think Fritz Lang poses this question in earnest and with his heart on his sleeve. Despite our distance from questions of such magnitude (the war against operations such as Al Qaeda has effectively been assigned to bureaus or outsourced, and do not ask these questions of us on an individual basis), it's a question which I found very involving.

Fritz Lang's movie has in common with Powell & Pressburger's film from the same year, the 49th Parallel, that both treatments of the Nazis display a great deal of respect, leaving you to question on some level whether they don't deserve to win. Thorndike is both a rank below, and Lang suggests, an inferior hunter to, his nemesis the Nazi Major Quive-Smith. Only by breaking through British class barriers and finding love will Thorndike be able to triumph. Reference is made to the policy of appeasement and to appallingly stupid British officialdom, more evidence of a movie which is far from a stupid and absurdly partisan propaganda piece.

Some of the movie comes off as a little odd, such as a repeated reference to the Nazis returning to decapitation as method of execution, which seems rather a minutia given that the UK and US were both hugely fond of capital punishment at the time. The love story creaks a bit and makes the middle of the movie somewhat of a longueur. Contrivances in the plot are acceptable, but may cross a threshold for some.

On an aesthetic and visceral level there are some great tracking shots, and the Nazis have been appropriately fetishised. Popular modern belief that behind each swastika there was a caring sharing yet misguided person is hugely erroneous, death-worshipping pagans, members of what was a hugely ideological cult, being more accurate in my view. The shot of Quive-Smith and goons in Jerry's apartment is high-calibre work reminiscent of the expressionist silent work of the director's earlier years. Personally I found the fist fight hugely brutal and exhilarating, which is very rare in a movie of that period, or indeed any other. In terms of a "...from hell's heart I stab at thee" level of gusto, the ending of the movie is as electrifying as the famous ending to 13 Rue Madeleine.

By the by Quive-Smith is an enormously interesting character. There's huge testament to Lang's subtlety in the Kehlsteinhaus (Eagle's Nest) scene. An outwardly confident character with no hint of turmoil stands next to a lampshade where votive music in Old German is written, "...nur deine güt hilft, mir aus den nöthen." ("... only you can help me out of my suffering"). In the next scene he is backgrounded by a sculpture of Saint Sebastian pierced through with arrows. This a wounded man, in need of putting out of his misery. Lang's suggestion regarding Nazis generally? Obviously a man of genius who snuck a lot of stuff about fate in under the radar.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

20 June 1941 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Rogue Male See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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