Warner Archive releasing the 1948 drama "The Hunted" on DVD is further evidence that both the number of creative twists on the classic noir genre and the Archive supply of these films is endless. This evokes thoughts on the new Tom and Jerry cartoon series showing that there seems to be an infinite number of ways that a cat and a mouse can torment each other.
The primary twist in "The Hunted" is that recently paroled con Laura Mead comes out still insisting that she is innocent of the jewel heist that is the cause of her recent unfortunate incarceration. On top of this, this excitable girl is well known for making death threats against both her trial attorney (a.k.a. mouthpiece Simon Rand) and her ex-boyfriend/police detective Johnny Saxon who uncovered the evidence that convinced the court of her guilt.
The secondary twist relates to the casting of Laura. Making this character a skilled ice skater removes any doubt regarding whether "Hunted" is intended as a star vehicle for "ice maiden" turned actress Belita.
Belita and Saxon portrayer Preston Foster are no Bogie and Bacall (or even Wagner and Powers) but generate enough heat to make the screen warm to the touch. Their reunion and subsequent night together is one of the best scenes in the film.
The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, shows Belita's skating talent and her on-screen chemistry with Foster.
Plans of Mead and Saxon to put their past (including that pesky assertion of a homicidal intent) behind them go awry when Rand ends up murdered. This prompts Mead to go on the run and Saxon to take up the chase.
Saxon additionally enjoys great scenes with the female parole officer who is charged with keeping Mead and other female ex-cons in line and assisting with their rehabilitation. Whether a woman who has served time can be a "good girl" is the primary disputed topic.
Although the related mysteries of the perpetrator of the heist and the humanitarian act of reducing the lawyer population are as easily solvable as a "Scooby-Doo" mystery, the concept and execution of "The Hunted" keep things interesting.
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