Sunday, August 24, 2014

MAN HUNT (1941 - U.S) Twilight Time blu-ray

D: Fritz Lang.  A big game hunter named Thorndike (Walter Pidgeon of VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA, the movie) has the leader of the Third Reich in his rifle scope's cross-hairs and is about to pull the trigger!  This is the startling opening sequence to one of Lang's lesser known pre-WWII noir thrillers.  Soon the hunter becomes the hunted in a riveting thrill ride obstacle course through war torn London that echoes elements of Richard Connell's THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME.  The story was probably innovative for its time and the plot twists and turns are still captivating due to the dynamic visuals.  Joan Bennett (SUSPIRIA), soon to become a noir femme fatale, co-stars as Jerry, a street-wise young woman, who romantically falls for the safari hunter and takes great risks to aid and hide him from his ruthless pursuers.
Producer Daryl Zanuck and the Fox studio brass tried to reign in the German refugee director's strong anti-Nazi sentiments since the U.S. was not yet at war with the Fuehrer.  Bennett's character was also toned down to be more vague and appear less blatantly streetwalker. Although this would change by the time Bennett returned to the same on-screen occupation in Lang's WOMAN IN THE WINDOW (1944) and SCARLET STREET (1945).  Bennett would work with Lang again in 1947's SECRET BEYOND THE DOOR.  The top-notch supporting cast includes George Sanders (PSYCHOMANIA), Roddy McDowall (PLANET OF THE APES), John Carradine (BILLY THE KID VS. DRACULA), Lester Matthews (WEREWOLF OF LONDON) and Ludwig Stossel (HOUSE OF DRACULA).  Pidgeon and the young Roddy would co-star together the same year in Zanuck's HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY.  The archtypal Germanic character actor Stossel would appear in at least two other Hitler related movies- HITLER'S MADMEN and THE STRANGE DEATH OF ADOLF HITLER, both in 1943.

The Twilight Time BD is a limited pressing (3,000 copies) and is a monochrome wonder to behold.  The film's grain is very fine with deep black levels, a rich gray scale and razor sharp focus.  The package, including scholarly extras and a booklet, make this a good value for serious noir connoisseurs and Lang completists.

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