Although he was offered the directorship of Germany’s film industry by Reichminister Joseph Goebbels, director Fritz Lang left Germany and came to the U.S., where he directed several excellent is dark and critical films, such as “Fury” (1936) with Spencer Tracy and “You Only Live Once (1937) with Henry Fonda.
Lang’s then signed with Fox, directing the Western “The Return of Frank James,” again with Fonda, and other films. Lang's 1941 spy drama, “Man Hunt,” adapted to the screen by top scribe Dudley Nichols, was based on Geoffrey Household’s bestseller “Rogue Male.” It tells the story of Captain Thorndike (Walter Pidgeon) a Britisher who goes to Germany before the War and purely for sport stalks Hitler. A skillful hunter in the Bavarian Alps, he accidentally discovers a chance to assassinate Hitler.
When he has the dictator, he debates with himself whether to shoot, but he's captured by the Gestapo who then attempt to use him in an international intrigue. After escaping, with the help of a youth, Vander the Cabin Boy (Roddy McDowall), on a Danish steamer, Thorndike he is pursued by Gestapo agents who follow him back to England.
Joan Bennett offers the romantic interest as a streetwalker named Jerry, who saves his life, and George Sanders excels as the Gestapo chief Quive-Smith, who apprehends Thorndike.
It's worth noting that the project was first offered to Fox's top director at the time, John Ford, who disliked the subject matter, encouraging studio head Darryl Zanuck to assign it to Lang. Through the adventurous tale of a British hunter, Lang wanted to convey the social and ideological atmosphere that prevailed in Hitler’s Germany, from which he miraculously escaped, going first to Paris.
Produced by Kenneth MacGowan.
Directed by Fritz Lang.
Screenplay by Dudley Nichols, based on the novel Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household.
Release date: June 13, 1941
Running time: 105 Minutes