#93: Man Hunt (Fritz Lang, 1941)
I love early 40s anti-Nazi films. It's one of my favorite subgrenes of the first half of that decade. THE MORTAL STORM, ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT, NORTHERN PURSUIT, EDGE OF DARKNESS, and Lang's incredible HANGMEN ALSO DIE! are all fantastic anti-Nazi films from the period that deserve serious honorable mention for this list.
I saw this early on for my golden age film project, and it's remained a favorite ever since. Lang is one of the greatest filmmakers in international or Hollywood history, and admittedly, there isn't a single film of his that I've seen that I haven't loved. There a few that regrettably I had to leave off this list, and a few that honestly might be better films than MAN HUNT. But for some reason or other, MAN HUNT has a sentimental edge in my heart, so it's gets the nod. It's partly because it's a truly bold anti-Nazi film. It was released in America in June 1941, right around the time the Nazi blitz of London ended after over a year of sustained bombing. At the time of its release, the Production Code in America lambasted it for being too harsh on the Nazis. Lang and Fox were originally asked to tone down their depiction of the Nazis as murderous torturers. Thankfully, they refused and America was provided with Lang's intended vision of Nazi cruelty; a vision, no doubt, designed to galvanize Americans into supporting the war in Europe.
But my love for MAN HUNT goes beyond its wonderful hatred for Nazism and its taut rhythms as an espionage thriller. There's a sense of 30s poetic realism to the relationship between Pideon and Bennett's characters that ties everything together emotionally. Their relationship remains unconsummated, and it is all the better for it because it contains both a genuine tenderness and hidden longing that only becomes realized by the film's ultimate tragedy.
Stats: Plenty more Lang films to come.