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Saturday Night Cinema: Hunted (1952)

Tonight’s Saurday Night Cinema classic is Hunted, starring Dirk Bogarde (it was re-titled in the States as Stranger in Between). This intriguing Charles Crichton film never lets up, in this fascinating working class story in post war England.

I do so like these dark movies, particularly when good triumphs, as it most obviously does in this little gem.

Dirk Bogarde stars in this emotional melodrama as an escaped murderer, sloshing through the North Country mud. Bogarde is reluctantly saddled with a fugitive orphan boy (Jon Whitely), who insists upon tagging along. The murderer ends up sacrificing his freedom to rescue the injured boy from certain death. While The Hunted was greeted with moderate enthusiasm in Britain, its virtues were trumped by the French film critics of the era. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Hunted

Hunted (1952)  ‘ Stranger in Between,’ British Import, With Jon Whiteley, Arrives at Fine Arts

By H. H. T., NY Times Review
Published: August 20, 1952

Graphically, at least, the new British melodrama at the Fine Arts, “The Stranger in Between,” is above reproach. The fine pictorial impact of this Michael Balcon production, which describes the cross-country flight of an escaped murderer and a small boy, must be attributed to the English knack for conjuring up a chase, drenching it in atmosphere and incident and, in general, keeping spectator’s eyes riveted to the sprinters.

Director Charles Crichton, in dead serious contrast to his droll guidance of “The Lavender Hill Mob,” again has done a dandy job with an alertly visual screen play by Jack Whittingham and a persuasive cast headed by Dirk Bogarde and Jon Whiteley, the fugitives; Kay Walsh, Elizabeth Sellars, Jane Aird and Jack Stewart.

The picture’s one defect—a major one—also applied to a Balcon predecessor of last year called “Pool of London,” charted, too, by Mr. Whittington, which sacrificed substance for technical brilliance. Off to a deliberately blunt start, the action circumstantially pairs two runaways, a young cuckold who has murdered his wife’s employer and an impressionable moppet whom he abducts as a shield from the police. As the chase shifts from the metropolitan area to the countryside, the mountains and, finally, a Scotch fishing village, the man’s snarling contempt for the lonely child gives way to a solicitude that betrays him Huntedto justice.

Sturdy and appealing though this relationship be, with both Mr. Bogarde and Master Whitely exercising manly restraint in their assignments, the development — the backbone of the film—begins far too late in an already overlong chain of incidents. Nor is it made clear just why, in the first place, Mr. Bogarde’s victim obliged him with a fatal trip to a cellar. Also, the constant flashbacks to the boy’s worried parents weaken the continuity and shed little light on Master Whiteley’s apparent indifference toward them. And Mr. Bogarde’s noble self-sacrifice with freedom in sight brings the already sputtering velocity to an admirable but sentimental halt.

Jane Aird and Jack Stewart, as the parents, Elizabeth Sellars, as the unfaithful spouse, and Julian Somers, as the murderer’s unsympathetic brother, do well enough. And Kay Walsh, as an altruistic housewife, is splendid. For all its shortcomings, “The Stranger in Between” remains well worth the run.
THE STRANGER IN BETWEEN, screen play by Jack Whittingham; directed by Charles Crichton; produced by Julian Wintle; a J. Arthur Rank Presentation, released by Universal-International.
Chris Lloyd . . . . . Dirk Bogarde
Robbie . . . . . Jon Whiteley
Mrs. Sykes . . . . . Kay Walsh
Magda Lloyd . . . . . Elizabeth Sellars
Mrs. Campbell . . . . . Jane Aird
Mr. Campbell . . . . . Jack Stewart
Mr. Sykes . . . . . Frederick Piper
Jack Lloyd . . . . . Julian Somers
Inspector Deakin . . . . . Geoffrey Keen

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