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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fritz Lang at his best
British officer and renowned big game hunter Alan Thorndike (Walter Pidgeon)literally sets his rifle's sight on Hitler at Berchtesgarten but is foiled by security then tortured by the Gestapo to sign a confession. When he refuses they throw him off of a cliff but his fall is broken and he manages to escape back to England on a tramp steamer where Nazi agents (England and...
Published on 13 Feb 2011 by Mr. S. H. J. Palmer

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dated, But Effective Thriller
George Sanders is excellent as a Nazi officer who captures Thorndyke (played by a somewhat miscast Walter Pidgeon)and tries to get him to confess to an attempted assassination of Hitler. Thorndyke eacapes to England, with the aid of a young cabin boy (played by Roddy McDowell.) There he meets Joan Bennett. She has the most appalling accent.

The last half an...
Published 19 months ago by Blackadder


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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fritz Lang at his best, 13 Feb 2011
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This review is from: Man Hunt [DVD] (DVD)
British officer and renowned big game hunter Alan Thorndike (Walter Pidgeon)literally sets his rifle's sight on Hitler at Berchtesgarten but is foiled by security then tortured by the Gestapo to sign a confession. When he refuses they throw him off of a cliff but his fall is broken and he manages to escape back to England on a tramp steamer where Nazi agents (England and Germany were not at war at the moment)continue to pursue him. Enlisting the assistance of a cockney streetwalker (Joan Bennett) he eludes their grasp until cornered in a cave.This UK region 2 release comes with scene selections and a trailer and the video and audio transfer is clean and crisp.Its easy to see why Fritz Lang is often compared to Hitchcock.Both directors are master story tellers and both use visual techniques which are quite stunning for a film nearly seventy years old.I particularly enjoyed the recreation of foggy London at night,complete with narrow alleways and wet cobbled streets.The scene where a body is dragged along leaving scuffmarks in the carpet is equally brilliant.Lang is also a master of using light in ways other directors only dream of.A great example is the torture scene where all the viewer sees is a shadow of someone in a chair.It gives the scene a more sinister edge and proves you dont always have to graphically show violence to get your message across.The film is tightly directed and moves along at a good clip with Lang using all the tricks he knows.The actors all give credible performances in which the monocled George Sanders plays his Gestapo role of Quives Smith with aplomb,giving his character more depth by playing him bi-lingual is another fine example of Langs ability to avoid such stereotypes of Gestapo agents of this era.Keep your eye out for a young Roddy Mcdowell (who went on to make over 500 movies)as a cabin boy.The only annoying thing regarding the characters is that awful cockney accent of Joan Bennets character,its simply awful.Despite this handicap she pulls off her character quite convincingly and gives Walter Pidgeons character a run for his money in acting terms in one of his better performances.John Carradines gestapo agent is silently menacing and also well acted.It does get a little propagandist towards the end but it was made in 1941 where the outcome of the war was still unknown.So if you like 40's film noir then i am sure you will enjoy this so give it a go.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent film and disc, 22 July 2009
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Johnnybluetime - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Man Hunt [DVD] [1941] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Fritz Lang's version of Geoffrey Household's novel Rogue Male is memorably good and for my money Walter Pidgeon's best role. Beautifully photographed, well acted and directed with pace and economy. Mostly studio bound, it doesn't seem like it is and London's streets have never seemed so sinister and menacing in the fog. The story goes along at a very fair clip, internationally famed big game hunter is caught with Hitler in the sights of his rifle and spends the rest of the film being pursued by Nazis led by sauvely sadistic George Sanders.

There are down sides to the movie; Joan Bennett's cockney accent is pretty awful, as was usually the case in those days, and speaking of cockneys when Pidgeon first arrives back in London he immediately encounters a roving band of pearly kings and queens - not the film's most realistic moment - and Pidgeon himself is gratingly paternalistic and condescending to Bennet, which again was not unnusual for the time. Nevertheless, the film remains engrossing as the great white hunter Pidgeon is stalked by his rival Sanders and his henchmen, including a young and rather handsome John Carradine.

The sound and picture on this print are both excellent, clear and crisp, and I didn't notice any faults in the picture at all. This Region 1 edition also has a good documentary on the making of the film. Despite being almost seventy years old both the film and the print have held up very well. Recommended.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Like you, my dear Thorndike," says Gestapo officer Quive-Smith, "I've had but one passion in life...the hunting of big game.", 23 May 2010
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C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Man Hunt [DVD] [1941] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
The big game hunter, a well-bred British gentleman wearing tweeds and plus fours, has worked his way to the edge of the clearing. He sets up his custom-made precision rifle, attaches the scope and gives one more look through his binoculars. Then he settles in, places the creature in his cross hairs, slowly pulls the trigger...and smiles with satisfaction at the click. There was no bullet in the chamber and the target -- Adolph Hitler -- continues his walk around the Berghof. Please note that elements of the plot are discussed.

The date is July 29, 1939, and this British adventurer of good family (his brother is Lord Risborough of the Foreign Office) has completed a sporting stalk. That is, as Alan Thorndike (Walter Pidgeon) explains later, "stalking big game for the fun of it, not to kill...the sport is in the chase, not the kill...I no longer kill, not even small game." But then Thorndike thinks again, chambers a bullet, and again takes aim...and at that moment a Gestapo guard lunges at him, the rife goes off, and Thorndike finds himself questioned by the suave German, Quive-Smith (George Sanders), a Gestapo officer who fancies himself a hunter, too. Quive (pronounced Keeve)-Smith appreciates Thorndike's skill, thinks his "sporting stalk" idea is nonsense and has a wonderful idea. Thorndike will sign a confession of his intent to assassinate the Fuehrer under orders from the British government. Then he'll be let go. Of course, Thorndike refuses. He is beaten, escapes and makes his way back to Britain.

Now the hunter becomes the hunted. Apparently every German agent Quive-Smith has in Britain is after Thorndike. They show up everywhere. They range from a thin man in a wing collar carrying a sword cane to Bobbies to rough thugs. Then Quive-Smith turns up in London to direct the hunt. Thorndike knows that if they catch him they will stage a suicide and release a "signed" confession. His only hope is his wits, his instincts and the help of a young Cockney girl, Jerry Stokes (Joan Bennett).

The last ten minutes should have been tense and satisfying. Instead it's a match to decide which is worse, Sanders' sneering superiority or Pidgeon's polemic over-acting. With Quive-Smith, it's "We're on the march at last, Thorndike. Today, Europe. Tomorrow, the world!" For Thorndike, trapped in a cave by Quive-Smith, Jerry's arrow hatpin that he bought for her just may be the device that will set the greatest hunter of big game free. And this time, on a hunt that will not be a sporting stalk.

Man Hunt is Fritz Lang's first propaganda film. Like so many of his Hollywood movies, it has a lot of flaws and some superb strengths. In this case, the dialogue is stodgy, the plot's coincidences undermine the story, and the style of the movie, featuring British gentlemen of impeccable manners and insouciant bravery, is as dated as the British Empire. With one exception, the stars don't help. Walter Pidgeon was a capable, honorable, stalwart secondary lead in many movies. He brings little else to the role. George Sanders is just about awful, a collection of sneers and superiority wearing a monocle. Lang always made his Nazi villains caricatures. One Nazi bad guy even has a sore on his face.

But then there is Joan Bennett as Jerry. She's hardly believable as a Cockney, but she's just about perfect as a young woman, poor and down on her luck, who meets this handsome, honorable, aristocratic man who treats her nicely. Jerry thinks, innocently, she may have found her prince. She falls for him; she knows in her heart it can never be and yet she wants to believe somehow it might be. Joan Bennett plays it straight. When they are in her room and we hear the strains of "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square," we know Jerry will do anything to protect Thorndike and that it probably won't turn out well for her.

Most importantly, we have Fritz Lang's way with a camera, with lighting and with setting scenes that grab our attention and speed us past the weaker bits. Lang gives us pacing, anti-Nazi propaganda and, when the story moves to London, some extraordinary-looking night scenes filled with wet and mist, with bricked streets, dark alleys, lonely street lights and shadows that move. It doesn't hurt that Man Hunt has echoes of The 39 Steps, The Most Dangerous Game and Foreign Correspondent.

One last word about Bennett. She's one of Hollywood's most under-appreciated actresses. Just consider some of the directors she chose to work with and the movies they made after she'd achieved enough clout to make her own decisions: Fritz Lang with The Woman in the Window, Scarlet Street and Secret Beyond the Door; Max Ophuls with The Reckless Moment; Zoltan Korda with The Macomber Affair; Jean Renoir with The Woman on the Beach. In many cases she was the reason these directors got the financing. She was beautiful, smart and a fine actress who didn't mind taking risks.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Film, 7 Dec 2009
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Amazon Customer (edinburgh Great Britain) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Man Hunt [DVD] [1941] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
I was about nine when I first saw this on TV, I was scared witless by the fight in the London Underground. Seeing it almost forty years later I suppose you do notice things like Constance Bennet's improbable accent, as a child I thought Pearly Kings and Queens were like Scotsmen in kilts - not THAT unusual - but these B&W films need to be appreciated for what they achieved in their time.
Anyway it starts off with Walter P having a bet with himself as to whether he can get Hitler in the sight of his high powered hunting rifle (he can but being a gent he doesn't shoot) and getting caught on the way back and brought before evil nazi George Sanders. I can't say anymore,being a film about a manhunt rather than a story with a mystery and denouement commenting on it in detail would spoil it. Brilliant end to the manhunt though. If you enjoyed Hitchcock's 39 Steps you'll love this, and, conversely, if you didn't then I wouldn't buy this.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great propaganda, a very good thriller, but below-par Lang, 13 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Man Hunt [DVD] [1941] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
I want to emphasise immediately that this is a great release of Fritz Lang's 1941 thriller, Man Hunt. Not only does the film look and sound marvelous in its immaculate presentation, but it also comes with some juicy extras. There's a 20 minute documentary about the making of the film which boasts contributions from some of the top Lang authorities. Then there is a fine feature-length commentary given by Patrick McGilligan, author of Fritz Lang: The Nature of the Beast, a highly recommendable biography. This region 1 20th Century Fox release knocks the region 2 Optimum Home Entertainment version into a cocked hat. If you have a region-free player, this is definitely the one to get.

And so to the film itself. As propaganda, Man Hunt is very effective. I am not a fan of propaganda film as a rule as I resist the idea of having somebody else ramming their political agenda down my throat. But I accept that there is a time and a place for such material, and a film set on the brink of European War and made just prior to America's entry into the Pacific War would appear to be one of the most miraculous feats of timing ever pulled off by Darryl F. Zanuck, head of 20th Century Fox studio. As the documentary attached to this film points out, Fox took a risk with the film as it was made while America was still at peace and while the Neutrality Act was still in force. Congressional hearings were in motion which questioned the right of films to blatently manipulate public opinion. The Pearl Harbor attack finished all that and the general public flocked in droves to see a film which starts off with Hitler almost being killed by famous big game hunter Captain Alan Thorndike (Walter Pidgeon). The film goes on to chart Thorndike's torture by the gestapo, his escape eventually back to Blighty, his evasion of the Nazi manhunt of the title, his eventual success, resurrection and (following stirring snapshot footage of the war - the Blitz, etc -) his eventual return to Germany, parachuting down, sniper's rifle in hand, to finish off the job against the Fuhrer. All of this had a huge effect on audiences of the time who were quite happy to surrender their usual cynical powers of critical judgement to blatent emotional manipulation at it's crudest. Such is the nature of propaganda I suppose and we can't deny it didn't do its job in 1941 even if it looks rather foolish now.

As a thriller Man Hunt is also very good indeed. One of the reasons for it's success as propaganda is its success in territory where Lang literally out Hitchcocks Hitchcock. As both propaganda and thriller I'd take this over Foreign Correspondent (1940) any day. The basis for the film's success is the marvelous Geoffrey Household 1939 novel Rogue Male which is adapted very skillfully by Dudley Nichols for the screen. Lang and Nichols hit it off very well, probably because they shared similar pre-occupations. They both placed social significance above sentimentality and hatred of the Nazis was a cause for which both were eager to fight. The story is very much a black and white, goodies v baddies / hunter v the hunted scenario which makes for direct, effective drama. Important to the story is the strong characterization of chief Nazi villain Quive-Smith and George Sanders does marvels with his role. Never has 'English' gentlementality seemed so sinister. Playing against him, Walter Pidgeon does a decent job as our hero with the action of the film slipping from the Bavarian forest to a German dock, to the London East End and finally to the Dorset hills. We are treated to a series of exciting set pieces which set the pulses racing - Thorndike's capture and torture, his escape down a river, his avoiding of Mr Jones (a superbly menacing skeletal John Carradine) on the boat and then later on the London Underground, and his navigation of the trecherous East End streets which seem more like the studio Berlin of M (1931) than the real thing. Things all climax with Thorndike trapped in a cave and Quive-Smith baiting him to come out. It's a tense finale fully the equal of Hitchcock's Statue of Liberty climax to Saboteur, shot the following year.

Nichols' script is a model of punchy economy (with only a couple of tension-sapping scenes to distract - the Boys' Own indulging of the boy (Roddy McDowell) on the boat and the attempts at humor where cockney prostitute (Joan Bennett) meets the upper class in Thorndike's uncle's home). Most memorable of all is the customary meticulous mise-en-scene that Lang provides with his cameraman Arthur C. Miller. There is no doubt that Man Hunt looks thoroughly Langian from beginning to end. The film it most resembles is M, another manhunt film. The topographical shots made famous in that film loom large here. Thorndike is forever scurrying down blind alleys, hiding in nooks and crannies, cupboards and rundown apartments. The photography is all noir shadow and light with the most atmospheric stuff saved for the Underground fight with Jones. The final sequence is pure Lang as well, the confrontation between Thorndike and Quive-Smith shot almost entirely from Thorndike's point of view from inside the cave. The sense of persecution, entrapment and paranoia is unmistakable coming from this director. The visuals show Thorndike as being a Beckert, paranoid fear of surveillance never far away. I also like the way Quive-Smith is depicted when Jenny (the Joan Bennett character) finds him in her flat. Shot in dark silhouette he is dressed in black bowler hat and mack as the spitting image of Der Schranker (the chief of the criminal underworld in M). The only difference is Lang's own monocle which glistens menacingly in the half light (no doubt one of Lang's injokes as arguments between him and studio executives were long and loud about his insistence on wearing one). There's even a clever scene after Thorndike murders a Nazi where he says that he's now being hunted by both the Nazis and the British police - a clear echo of M where Beckert is hunted by both the police and the criminal underworld.

However, any further comparison with M only highlights Man Hunt's shortcomings. As thoroughly Langian as the film may look, it just isn't subtle enough thematically. Its complete lack of ambiguity in characterization and its side-stepping of Lang's usual modernist preoccupations makes the film distinctly minor in terms of Lang's overall output. M is marvelous because of its ambiguity. It's hard to decide who are good and who are bad in a film which raises all manner of questions about the modern world and how we look at it. Characters are all subtlety contrasted, mirrored and blended. The head of the underground is the police detective's doppelganger and as Beckert is hunted down we are dazzled by a mise-en-scene which ellucidates the subtlety of Lang's thematic concerns. In Man Hunt, characterisation is one-dimensional with goodies and baddies clearly stereotyped. We are never allowed to question the morality of either, rather we are just ordered (as is the nature of propaganda) to think this and think that. Thus Thorndike is a cartoon superman with no bad points at all while Quive-Smith is a pantomime Disney villain. Sanders does manage to rise above his material, but even a good performance like his can't change what is heavily capitalised and underlined in the script. Joan Bennett as the prostitute who helps our hero in London has an even harder task in a part which the studio, the Hays Office, Dudley Nichols and Lang all fought over (is she a prostitute or a seamstress?) to the point where Bennett is unsettled into giving a strange 'tart with a heart' performance. Her atrocious cockney accent doesn't help either.

So, in Man Hunt we have a very effective thriller, a crowd-pleaser which sends people away thinking America should indeed enter the war. People might even be fooled into thinking it is a real 'Fritz Lang' picture with its strong visual sense. However, enjoyable as the mise-en-scene may be, it's rendered shallow when it supports cartoon character cyphers who exist a million miles away from Lang's usual tortured ambiguity. In top Lang, mise-en-scene supports themes bedded into thematic characterization. In Man Hunt it supports a simple thriller weighed down by propagandistic freight.

I can't understand people who think Man Hunt is Lang's first great American film. That was surely You Only Live Once (1937) with Fury (1936) only fractionally less successful. There are also people who think Lang was on the skids when he made Man Hunt. This wasn't strictly true. You and Me (1938) was his only box office flop up to this point and before Man Hunt he had somewhat rescued his reputation as a reliable director with two successful westerns, The Return of Frank James (1940) and Western Union (1941). Lang didn't have the kind of control he had been accustomed to in Germany, but he certainly wasn't in desperate trouble. The best thing that resulted from the success of Man Hunt was the power it gave Lang to go on to make The Woman in the Window (1944) and Scarlet Street (1945), two films which feature the support of Joan Bennett and (in Scarlet Street) screenwriter Dudley Nichols. These two films represent Lang at the top of his game. Man Hunt (entertaining as it may be) certainly does not do this.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dated, But Effective Thriller, 28 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Man Hunt [DVD] (DVD)
George Sanders is excellent as a Nazi officer who captures Thorndyke (played by a somewhat miscast Walter Pidgeon)and tries to get him to confess to an attempted assassination of Hitler. Thorndyke eacapes to England, with the aid of a young cabin boy (played by Roddy McDowell.) There he meets Joan Bennett. She has the most appalling accent.

The last half an hour is the best of all, when Thorndyke appears to be trapped in a cave.

Not a bad movie, directed by Fritz Lang. It might have been better with someone like Ronald Colman in the Pidgeon role.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!, 23 Mar 2014
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H. Morgan Dockrell "HMD" (Dublin,Ireland.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Man Hunt [DVD] (DVD)
1.Thank you SO much to Amazon to refund promptly replacing the one MAN HUNT went lost in transit. Gratefully in time for my 75th birthday.You have a good record with my first ever having gone LOST! Well done. This is a super film, made at a time of particularly poignant of young women agents murdered by Nazis.(1941) Not 'redde' the books yet! Thank you, Morgan Dockrell
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars B & W classic !, 5 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Man Hunt [DVD] (DVD)
I read this book back in about 1970 and really enjoyed it (Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household - if you're a reader get it, very engrossing) but had only seen parts of it on TV as a younger kid and was very curious about it all these years later, especially as I had seen and bought a copy of the excellent Peter O'Toole made for TV version from the '70s (actually titled Rogue Male). Well I was not disappointed, sure it's from the early 1940's, which may turn some off but not old movie enthusiasts such as I, but it still holds up, as a lot of Fritz Lang's films do. That atmosphere that only some B&W films can create is there with a great story and relative fast pacing. Walter Pidgeon is usually good to watch and George Sanders has always been one of my family's favourite villains (and a GREAT comedy actor as well). If you are into this type of wartime (or in this case just PRE-wartime) intrigue style of film give this a look, got it cheap too, a bargain.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, 5 July 2014
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3.0 out of 5 stars George Sanders and John Carradine, 9 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Man Hunt [DVD] [1941] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Apart from Walter Pidgeon's annoying voice, this is quite a good film with a convincing performance by George Sanders as a Nazi who speaks German and English with a German accent. John Carradine plays a menacing villain with a good music intro in his first scene.
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