Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Man Hunt (1941)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Man Hunt (1941)

In director Fritz Lang's anti-Nazi, WWII political thriller - a film-noirish story set on the eve of the war, about a suave English gentleman adventurer pursued by the Nazis for threatening to assassinate Hitler:

  • the film's opening - the tense sequence of big-game hunter Capt. Alan Thorndike (Walter Pidgeon) stalking within shooting distance of Hitler's summer palace (Berchtesgaden) in the Bavarian Alps in the mid-summer of 1939, and being tempted to aim at the dictator's head and chest with a precision telescopic viewer, and pul the trigger - the gun was unloaded and clicked empty; then, he gave a salute-wave to the Fuhrer, paused for a moment, and then thought about committing the assassination for real; Thorndike loaded a cartridge into the rifle, but he was jumped by a German Nazi sentry as he pulled the trigger a second time, and the shot went wild - he later claimed
  • the scene of Thorndike's capture and incarceration - brought before the brutal Gestapo, led by white-uniformed, monocle-wearing chief Major Quive-Smith (George Sanders); although Thorndike claimed "It was a sporting stalk...stalking the game you're after for the fun of it, not to kill...the sport is in the chase, not the kill. I don't kill any longer, not even small game"; nevertheless, he was compelled to sign a confession (that he had acted as an assassin for the British government), but he refused, so he was forced to submit to beatings and torture ("How well do you stand pain?") (off-screen) and a scheduled execution
Thorndike - Identified and Questioned by Major Quive-Smith
  • Thorndike ultimately survived being pushed off a 'treacherous' cliff ledge (his death was to be made to look like an accident) when his backpack became caught in a tree and it cushioned his fall; after regaining consciousness, he evaded a search by bloodhounds, and escaped from Europe to England (by stowing away on a Danish steamship with the aid of an English cabin boy Vaner (Roddy McDowall)) during a massive pursuit and man-hunt by German Nazi spies looking for him
  • the growing romance after London Cockney streetwalker/seamstress Jerry Stokes (Joan Bennett) helped Thorndike to evade Germans during their search - and his thankful purchase of a "dangerous weapon" for her - a hatpin made of chromium (in the shape of an arrow) to decorate her beret - given with his "undying gratitude and admiration"
  • during his flight, there was a tense sequence of a pursuit in a dark subway tunnel of the London Underground, when one of Quive-Smith's men, German agent Mr. Jones (John Carradine) with a long sharp blade hidden inside his walking stick, stalked after Thorndike and after a hand-to-hand struggle in the tube, was electrocuted when he was punched and fell backwards onto the electrified third rail (with sparks flying); subsequently during the investigation into the "TUBE MURDER MYSTERY," Jones (who had acquired Thorndike's passport and billfold) was identified as the dead hunter Thorndike in newspaper headlines: ("MURDER IN THE UNDERGROUND - Capt. Alan Thorndike's Body Found"); a male murder suspect at the scene (Thorndike himself, with a scar on his right cheek) was reported to have escaped; now both the British police and the Nazis were both engaged in a man-hunt, searching for Thorndike
Mr. Jones' Deadly Chase After Thorndike in the London Underground Tube
  • the concluding scene was the confrontation between Quive-Smith who had located and entrapped Thorndike in his cave-hideout in the woods; through a tiny opening in the cave wall, he passed in Jerry's beret with the chromium arrow hat-pin hanging on a stick - signifying her death; he explained how that during their search, the Germans questioned her and threw her out of a window when she wouldn't betray him: ("She made your mistake, Thorndike, she flauted obvious power. She refused to tell us anything...She was found dead in the street, Thorndike. The police reported that she, uh, jumped to her death from a window")
  • then, after Thorndike angrily admitted that he had wanted to personally kill the Fuhrer, Quive-Smith strongly urged and forced him to sign the confessional document - he said it would help the Germans who had just invaded Poland that same day (September 1, 1939): ("Today Europe, tomorrow the world!"); while stalling for time, Thorndike fabricated a makeshift bow (with his belt and a strip of wood) and used Jerry's chromium hat-pin as an arrow (strapped to the stick); then, through the hole in the cave wall, he shot the arrow and mortally-wounded Quive-Smith in the side of the head; however, the German was able to shoot and wound Thorndike before expiring; Thorndike was able to crawl over to Quive-Smith's corpse and destroy the false inflammatory signed confession by tearing it with his teeth
  • during his long recuperation, Thorndike experienced flashbacks to double-exposed memories of Jerry, who had helped him during their brief romance; in the film's denouement set during WWII, the healed Thorndike had joined the British RAF a year later, and was on a bombing mission over Germany; unexpectedly, he parachuted into Germany's Third Reich - his reconnaissance objective this time was to really assassinate Hitler with his hunting rifle, as the narrator patriotically described (in voice-over) his mission in the film's last lines, to the tune of "My Country 'Tis of Thee": ("And from now on, somewhere within Germany, is a man with a precision rifle and the high degree of intelligence and training that is required to use it. It may be days, months or even years, but this time he clearly knows his purpose and, unflinching, faces his destiny")
During His Recuperation: Flashbacks to Cockney Prostitute Jerry Stokes
Ending: Thorndike Parachuting Into Germany With a Mission to Assassinate Hitler

Aiming an Unloaded Rifle at the Fuhrer

Below the Cliff, Thorndike's Backpack Snagged on a Tree

Thorndike Regaining Consciousness After Cliff Fall

Thorndike's Purchase of a Chromium Arrow for Streetwalker Jerry's Beret

Jerry's Hat with Arrow

Thorndike's Makeshift Bow - Pulling It Back and Aiming

The Target Seen Through Cave Opening: Quive-Smith's Head

Mortally-Wounded Quive-Smith Shooting Thorndike Before Dying

Wounded Thorndike Destroying False Confession With His Teeth


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