Man Hunt (1941)

95 mins | Drama | 20 June 1941

Director:

Fritz Lang

Writer:

Dudley Nichols

Cinematographer:

Arthur Miller

Editor:

Allen McNeil

Production Designers:

Richard Day, Wiard B. Ihnen

Production Company:

Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Rogue Male . Geoffrey Household's novel first appeared as a serial in Atlantic Monthly (Jul--Sep 1939). According to HR news items, John Ford was originally scheduled to direct this film, but instead chose to direct The Eagle Squadron for his own Argosy company. [ The Eagle Squadron was not produced, however, and Ford directed How Green Was My Valley for Twentieth Century-Fox later in 1941]. The Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department and the Produced Scripts Collection, both located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, disclose that although Jules Furthman wrote two treatments for Man Hunt in Jun 1940, it is unlikely that his work was included in the final screenplay.
       According to HR news items, first Ida Lupino, then Gene Tierney were set for the role of "Jerry." Virginia Gilmore was also tested for the part, according to HR , and a 20 Feb 1941 conference with executive producer Darryl F. Zanuck, located in the studio records, reveals that Anne Baxter and Greer Garson were also under consideration for the part. Walter Pidgeon was borrowed from M-G-M for the production, which marked the American screen debuts of English child actor Roddy McDowall and his sister, Virginia McDowall. The part of "Vaner," who is an adult in Household's book, was specifically re-written for McDowall. HR news items noted that after filming began, associate producer Kenneth Macgowan left the studio to take a government post, and his duties were assumed by his former assistant, Len Hammond.
       According to information ... More Less

The working title of this film was Rogue Male . Geoffrey Household's novel first appeared as a serial in Atlantic Monthly (Jul--Sep 1939). According to HR news items, John Ford was originally scheduled to direct this film, but instead chose to direct The Eagle Squadron for his own Argosy company. [ The Eagle Squadron was not produced, however, and Ford directed How Green Was My Valley for Twentieth Century-Fox later in 1941]. The Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department and the Produced Scripts Collection, both located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, disclose that although Jules Furthman wrote two treatments for Man Hunt in Jun 1940, it is unlikely that his work was included in the final screenplay.
       According to HR news items, first Ida Lupino, then Gene Tierney were set for the role of "Jerry." Virginia Gilmore was also tested for the part, according to HR , and a 20 Feb 1941 conference with executive producer Darryl F. Zanuck, located in the studio records, reveals that Anne Baxter and Greer Garson were also under consideration for the part. Walter Pidgeon was borrowed from M-G-M for the production, which marked the American screen debuts of English child actor Roddy McDowall and his sister, Virginia McDowall. The part of "Vaner," who is an adult in Household's book, was specifically re-written for McDowall. HR news items noted that after filming began, associate producer Kenneth Macgowan left the studio to take a government post, and his duties were assumed by his former assistant, Len Hammond.
       According to information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the film was of special concern to the PCA. In a 4 Mar 1941 memo to PCA head Will H. Hays, official Joseph I. Breen asserted that the final shooting script of the film suggested the "possibility of a very important question of industry policy" due to the depiction of all the Nazi characters as "despicable" and all of the English characters as "sympathetic." Breen feared that the lack of "balance" between the characters would be "judged by great groups of our patrons as 'inflammatory'" due to its resemblance to the "hate pictures" produced during World War I. Breen apprised Jason Joy, the studio's head of public relations, of his concern in early Mar 1941, as well as warning that the shooting script was unacceptable due to "excessive brutality and gruesomeness" in the scenes depicting "Thorndike's" torture by the Nazis and "the characterization of Jerry as a prostitute."
       On 11 Mar 1941, Breen again wrote to Joy about a 7 Mar 1941 draft, stating that the depiction of "Jerry" was still unacceptable, although he believed "that this objection could be easily overcome if Jerry were to use some other garb than a tam[-o'-shanter], a trenchcoat, and a bag dangling at the end of her wrist, which three articles are inescapable symbols designating prostitutes." The sequences of "gruesomeness" had been altered to Breen's satisfaction, however. Breen also wrote to Hays on 11 May 1941, informing him that the film would no longer fall within the category of a "hate picture" and noting: "After an extended discussion with the studio in which we sought to point out the great danger involved in this undertaking, it was agreed that the first part of the picture, showing the shocking brutality of the German officers, would be very materially changed, and that, while it would be indicated that the English Captain would be definitely mistreated, much of the detail of the brutalization would be omitted from the finished picture."
       According to modern sources, English actress Queenie Leonard acted as Joan Bennett's dialect coach and Ben Silvey served as the unit manager. In 1976, Household's novel was filmed again as Rogue Male by the BBC television network. The British version was directed by Clive Donner and starred Peter O'Toole and John Standing. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Jul 41
p. 326.
Box Office
21 Jun 1941.
---
Daily Variety
10 Jun 41
p. 3, 13
Film Daily
13 Jun 41
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Oct 40
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Dec 40
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jan 41
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jan 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jan 41
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Mar 41
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Mar 41
p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Mar 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Mar 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Mar 41
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Apr 41
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Apr 41
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
6 May 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jun 41
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jul 41
p. 4.
Life
30 Jun 41
pp. 67-70.
Motion Picture Daily
12 Jun 1941.
---
Motion Picture Herald
14 Jun 41
p. 36, 38
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
3 May 41
p. 128.
New York Times
8 Jun 1941.
---
New York Times
14 Jun 41
p. 20.
Variety
11 Jun 41
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
MUSIC
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Tech adv
Prod mgr
Subway constr supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household (New York, 1939).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Rogue Male
Release Date:
20 June 1941
Production Date:
early March--late April 1941
addl seq early May 1941
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
20 June 1941
Copyright Number:
LP10573
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
95
Length(in feet):
9,030
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
7219
SYNOPSIS

In July 1939, English big-game hunter Captain Alan Thorndike infiltrates Adolph Hitler's retreat Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian Alps and takes aim at Hitler with his high-powered rifle. Although Thorndike had intended to carry out a "sporting stalk" only, and does not have bullets in his gun, he loads the weapon after locating the target. A German soldier surprises him, however, and his bullet goes astray. Thorndike is brought to Gestapo Major Quive-Smith, to whom he explains that he did not intend to kill Hitler. Quive-Smith does not believe him, however, and orders him to confess that his assassination attempt was at the request of the British government. Although Quive-Smith promises him freedom, Thorndike refuses to sign the prepared confession and is tortured by the Gestapo. When Thorndike still refuses to sign, Quive-Smith arranges for him to be thrown off a cliff in what will look like an accident, but he falls into a river and survives. The next day, the Gestapo searches for Thorndike but he eludes his pursuers and reaches a harbor, where he boards a boat bound for Britain. An intrepid cabin boy named Vaner hides him while one of Quive-Smith's men, Mr. Jones, boards with Thorndike's passport. Vaner keeps Thorndike hidden during the journey, but once he is ashore, Thorndike realizes that Jones and other Gestapo agents are following him, and he ducks into an apartment to escape. He appeals to the apartment's resident, a young Cockney woman named Jerry Stokes, for aid, and she helps him get to his brother's house. Thorndike's brother, Lord Gerald Risborough, is an ambassador, who warns him that the German embassy is looking for him, ... +


In July 1939, English big-game hunter Captain Alan Thorndike infiltrates Adolph Hitler's retreat Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian Alps and takes aim at Hitler with his high-powered rifle. Although Thorndike had intended to carry out a "sporting stalk" only, and does not have bullets in his gun, he loads the weapon after locating the target. A German soldier surprises him, however, and his bullet goes astray. Thorndike is brought to Gestapo Major Quive-Smith, to whom he explains that he did not intend to kill Hitler. Quive-Smith does not believe him, however, and orders him to confess that his assassination attempt was at the request of the British government. Although Quive-Smith promises him freedom, Thorndike refuses to sign the prepared confession and is tortured by the Gestapo. When Thorndike still refuses to sign, Quive-Smith arranges for him to be thrown off a cliff in what will look like an accident, but he falls into a river and survives. The next day, the Gestapo searches for Thorndike but he eludes his pursuers and reaches a harbor, where he boards a boat bound for Britain. An intrepid cabin boy named Vaner hides him while one of Quive-Smith's men, Mr. Jones, boards with Thorndike's passport. Vaner keeps Thorndike hidden during the journey, but once he is ashore, Thorndike realizes that Jones and other Gestapo agents are following him, and he ducks into an apartment to escape. He appeals to the apartment's resident, a young Cockney woman named Jerry Stokes, for aid, and she helps him get to his brother's house. Thorndike's brother, Lord Gerald Risborough, is an ambassador, who warns him that the German embassy is looking for him, and that England must acquiesce if Germany demands his extradition. Thorndike vows to disappear from England, then leaves with Jerry and sleeps on her couch. The next morning, Thorndike outlines his plans and does not notice that Jerry has fallen in love with him. She pouts until he takes her to buy a pin to replace the one she lost from her tam-o'-shanter, and she chooses a large chromium arrow. Jerry then accompanies Thorndike to the office of his solicitor, Saul Farnsworthy, where he tries to give her five hundred pounds. She refuses the money, and their squabbling is cut short when an assistant announces that Quive-Smith and Jones are on their way to the office. Thorndike and Jerry escape to the Underground, where Thorndike is chased by Jones. After a fight, Jones is electrocuted on the third rail, and, because he still carries Thorndike's passport, his corspe is identified as the hunter. Realizing that the British police are now after him as well, Thorndike instructs Jerry to write to him at Lyme Regis in three weeks with any news. After a tearful farewell, Jerry returns to her apartment, where Quive-Smith is waiting for her. Three weeks later, Thorndike, who has been living in a cave in the woods, goes to the post office to pick up Jerry's letter. When he returns to his cave, Thorndike discovers that the letter is from Quive-Smith, who has followed him and blocked the cave's opening. Through a small opening, Quive-Smith hands Thorndike Jerry's tam-o'-shanter and says that she was found dead on the street after jumping out her window. Enraged by Jerry's murder, Thorndike finally admits that he did intend to kill Hitler, although he did not realize it at the time. Stalling for time, Thorndike agrees to sign the confession and constructs a bow while Quive-Smith opens the entrance to the cave. As Quive-Smith reaches for the signed confession, Thorndike shoots him with the arrow from Jerry's hat. As he dies, Quive-Smith shoots Thorndike with a pistol, but before he collapses, Thorndike destroys the confession. Months pass as Thorndike recuperates and Europe is thrown into war. Once he has recovered, Thorndike joins the RAF, and on a reconnaissance mission over Germany, bails out with a high-powered rifle, intent on fulfilling his purpose this time. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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