Hunt the Man Down is a film noir from 1950 directed by George Archainbaud and is some B-noir brilliance! This film starts out with a dish washer and a waitress counting the money after closing. A man breaks in to rob the two and turns out to be The Paper Bag Hold-up Man.The piano playing dish washer played by James Anderson dodges a few bullets and takes down the gunman, killing the robber and becoming a hero. When our hero is photographed, against his will, his photo is in the newspaper. He is wanted on a 12-year-old murder case and sent to Los Angeles to stand trial! When he gets to L.A. he tells the Public Defender Paul Bennett, played by Gig Young, the way he escaped during first trial, when things were not looking to good for him. He also tells Bennett that he is innocent and what really happened in flashback form. From this story we learn there are 7 witnesses to the murder and Bennett tracks them down to find the real story.
Bennett soon recruits his father to help with tracking down the witnesses. His father is a one-armed ex-police officer played by Harry Shannon. As the seven witnesses are found and interviewed we learn their lives have changed for the worse since the first murder trial. Will the truth be found? Is our accused man innocent or guilty? If he’s innocent who did it?
The beginning of this film reminded me of the beginning of The History of Violence. Though the starting point of the two films are similar, nothing else is. I still wonder if this film inspired John Wagner and Vince Locke when they wrote the original graphic novel.
So if a B Noir with a one-armed detective, a dish washing piano player who has been running from the law for 12 years and a crazy array of witnesses to work through to find the truth sounds like a fun ride to you, it is. This is a film worth seeking out for noir fans looking for a hidden gem. It is a short film and would have benefited from a little longer run time, so we could have enjoyed the search for the lost witnesses a little longer, but then it wouldn’t be a B-Noir would it?