Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Took time a few weeks ago to watch Man Hunt, a 1941 film noir effort by director Fritz Lang, one with a fascinating premise. Walter Pidgeon plays a British subject named "Thorndyke" who is a world-famous African safari hunter. He finds himself on the European continent hunting and hiking when he comes across a villa inhabited by Adolph Hitler. This is just before the breaking out of hostilities outside the German border so despite the loathsome nature of the leader, Thorndyke seems torn as to what to do. He takes his rifle and pulls the trigger but his chamber is empty; next he loads a shell but guards stop him from firing the deadly shot. He is captured and tortured to sign a confession that he was in fact an assassin for his government, but refuses. Later he escapes the Nazi stronghold and makes his way to England where he discovers he is far from safe.
George Sanders plays an urbane but brutal Nazi and Joan Bennett is on hand as a feisty British dame (perhaps even a hooker, though the script is cagey on this point) who gives Thorndyke some essential help when he most needs it. John Carradine is on hand as a mysterious foreign agent who proves both somber and deadly. This movie does not end as I expected, but it is a rousing adventure with solid acting and some absolutely fantastic Fritz Lang imagery.
One reason I was eager to see this flick when it showed up on the Turner Classic schedule was that Joe Simon has stated it was an influence on the creation of his and Jack Kirby's "Manhunter" series for DC's Adventure Comics back in 1942. I cannot attribute the comment directly, but it is reported here.
Of course Paul Kirk disappeared after his Golden Age career, only to be given new life in reprint form in the back pages of the twenty-five cent New Gods. These appearances apparently inspired the revival of the character (literally) as a back up feature in Detective Comics by Archie Goodwin and a young and upcoming talent Walt Simonson.
Having seen the movie Man Hunt now, it's odd how the ending of that movie did indeed put me in mind of the lonely mission of that great Bronze Age Manhunter as he battled the evil men who created him and threatened the peace of the world.
The flick is highly recommended.