Man on the Run (1949) – Film Review
Director: Lawrence Huntington
Cast: Derek Farr, Joan Hopkins, Kenneth More
by Sarah Morgan
You know that well known product that advertises it does ‘exactly what it says on the tin’? Well, Man on the Run is the film title equivalent.
Its makers didn’t mess about coming up with something complex or clever. Instead, they just gave it to late-1940s cinemagoers straight – they called it Man on the Run, and that’s exactly what it’s about.
The original poster states it’s ‘not suitable for children’ as well, but watching it now, more than 70 years on from its big screen release, it seems somewhat tame. There’s nothing here to upset or offend.
“Time for a reassessment”
But don’t assume that means it’s dull either. This is a neat and tidy little film noir, and something of a pet project for Lawrence Huntington, who wrote, directed and produced the film. He’s largely forgotten these days, as are the vast majority of the movies he made; perhaps it’s time for a reassessment of his work, because if this is anything to go by, he was rather good at his job.
Derek Farr, a stalwart of many classy British productions in the 1950s, including The Dam Busters and The Vicious Circle (although Crossroads fans may remember him from his regular role as Timothy Hunter in the early 1970s) takes the lead role as Peter Brown. Or at least that’s the name he’s using when we first meet the character.
He’s running a pub in a quiet seaside town, but his idyll is shattered by the arrival of Newman, a former army colleague, who proceeds to blackmail him. Newman knows Brown’s real name is Burden, and that he’s a deserter who will go to jail if he’s discovered.
“Bizarre twist of fate”
Rather than face the music or pay Newman off, Burden does a runner. He ends up in London where, thanks to a bizarre twist of fate, he is wrongly implicated in an armed robbery. So Burden goes on the run again, his path eventually crossing with that of a widow who takes pity on him and agrees to help him clear his name.
Farr is perfectly cast. He has the kind of gentle, sympathetic face that makes viewers pity him – remember this was made shortly after the Second World War, when cinemagoers might not have felt kindly towards deserters (although Burden turns out to have had a very good reason for absconding).
Sadly, his co-star, Joan Hopkins, is less convincing and she seems uncomfortable on screen throughout. Look out too for early appearances from future stars Laurence Harvey and Kenneth More.
Alternative German ending
Man on the Run is released on Blu-ray by Network, £17.99