A little more than five years ago Fox Home Video released a handsomely restored DVD of Fritz Lang‘s Man Hunt (’41). Fox’s Schawn Belston made this spooky World War II noir look terrific, and the DVD included a short doc called “Rogue Male: The Making of Man Hunt” plus a commentary track by Patrick McGilligan, a stills gallery and a before-and-after restoration comparison. (My favorable review posted on 4.17.09.) The worth-its-weight-in-gold DVD is selling for $10 on Amazon as we speak, but Twilight Time is charging $30 dollars for a brand-new Bluray version, or a simple high-def rescan of the materials that Belston rendered with such care. That’s what TT does, I realize — charges an arm and a leg for limited-edition Blurays and sometimes with no extras — but fuck them anyway. I bought the damn thing on Screen Archives, but I really resented doing this. I would go for $20 or thereabouts, but $30 effing dollars? Is a 73 year-old thriller that most film scholars regard as somewhere between good and pretty good (but far from Foreign Correspondent-level great) worth all that much? The title, by the way, should be spelled Manhunt — I don’t care how they spelled it in ’41.
“Man Hunt was one of my favorite late-night TV movies when I was in my early to mid teens,” I wrote in ’09. “Based on Geoffrey Household‘s ‘Rogue Male,’ it’s about a gentleman hunter named Thorndike (Walter Pidgeon) who manages to penetrate Adolf Hitler‘s Berchtesgaden headquarters as a kind of hunting exercise, not to kill Hitler but to prove to himself that he was able to get him in his sights.
“Then the story kicks in. Pidgeon/Thorndike is discovered by German security, thrown off a cliff, survives, is tracked down by soldiers and hounds but manages to escape, makes his way to London with German agents still on his trail (and with the help of a young kid, played by Roddy McDowall), meets an emotionally vulnerable streetwalker (Joan Bennett) who wears a little metal arrow in her beret. She falls for Thorndike, takes him in, pays the price.
“The principal baddie is played by George Sanders; John Carradine plays another ne’er do well. I especially recall the ending with Pidgeon hiding in a cave and Sanders talking to him from outside, trying to coax him out, and the manner in which the little arrow from Bennett’s beret resolves things.”