Although he was offered the directorship of Germany’s film industry by minister Joseph Goebbels, director Fritz Lang fled Germany, first to France, then America.
In the U.S., he directed several excellent if dark and films, such as “Fury” (1936) with Spencer Tracy and “You Only Live Once (1937) with Henry Fonda and Sylvia Sidney.
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 the bright scribe Dudley Nichols, was based on Geoffrey Household’s bestselling book, Rogue Male.
The story’s hero is Captain Thorndike (Walter Pidgeon), a Brit who goes to Germany before the War and, seemingly for sheer sport, begins stalking Hitler. A skillful hunter in the Bavarian Alps, he accidentally discovers a chance to assassinate Hitler.
After spotting the dictator, he debates with himself whether to shoot, but he’s captured by the Gestapo who plan to use him in an international intrigue. After escaping, with the help of a young boy, 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 plays Jerry, the romantic interest, a streetwalker who saves his life.
George Sanders is as usual brilliant as the Gestapo chief Quive-Smith, who apprehends Thorndike.
The project was first offered to Fox’s hen top director, John Ford, who disliked the subject, and recommended studio head Darryl Zanuck to hire 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–at the very last moment
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