Cast & Crew
Los Angeles police lieutenant Johnny Saxon visits parole officer Miss Turner to learn more about the recently paroled Laura Mead, a former ice skater with whom he was in love but was obligated to arrest four years earlier on robbery charges. Laura is also the reason why Simon Rand, the lawyer who defended her, shows up at Turner's office. Both men are interested in Laura's whereabouts because she threatened to kill them, and Johnny reminds Rand that Laura was unhappy with his work on her case and believed that he had betrayed her. Johnny returns home to find Laura there, anxious to stay, but when he mentions the robbery, she angrily maintains her innocence. Late that night, Johnny and Laura discuss their romantic past, but the conversation returns to Laura's crime when he accuses her of having used him as a front for her scheme to steal the Winston diamonds. Laura, however, claims that she was framed by an informant who placed the stolen diamonds in her apartment and testified against her. Although Laura insists she does not know jewel thief Hollis Smith, the man who Johnny insists was her accomplice, Johnny believes that she is waiting for him to be released from prison so that she can collect her share of the heist. Johnny later finds Laura a room in a boardinghouse and takes her to see Paul Harrison, a skating rink owner, hoping that she will resume her promising career as an ice skater. Harrison arranges to have Laura teach skating during the day, and perform on the ice at night. Joe, the bartender at Johnny's favorite bar, believes that Laura may have been unjustly accused of the crime and suggests that Johnny reconsider the facts. Johnny and Laura soon rekindle their romance and dream of living together in Paris. One evening, Johnny learns that Simon has been murdered, and evidence is found to suggest that Laura may have made good on her promise to kill him. Laura denies that she killed Simon, and when Johnny tries to arrest her, she knocks him unconscious and flees. A manhunt ensues, but Laura manages to elude capture and makes it to Arizona, where she gets a job as a waitress in a diner. Meanwhile, back in Los Angeles, Hollis is arrested for the murder of an informant, and he confesses he murdered Simon and framed Laura for it. Johnny eventually traces Laura to the diner, but when he arrives, she fires her gun at him and flees. While recovering in the hospital, Johnny learns that Laura has been exonerated of both Simon's murder and the Winston jewel robbery. When Johnny returns to his apartment, he is glad to find Laura there waiting for him, and they embrace.
Larry "bozo" Valli
Charles J. Bigelow
Raymond Boltz Jr.
Scott R. Dunlap
Edward J. Kay
L. W. O'connell
F. Paul Sylos
Preston Foster is Johnny Saxon, a police detective whose girlfriend, Laura Mead (Belita), has been found guilty of jewel theft. Despite his attraction to Laura, Johnny believes she should pay for her crimes, playing an instrumental role in her arrest and imprisonment. Laura denies that she stole the jewelry, insisting that she was framed for the crime. She threatens to kill both Johnny and her lawyer Simon Rand (Pierre Watkin) for their failure to keep her out of prison. After serving her time behind bars, Laura is released on parole and she reunites with Johnny. Of course, Johnny is cautious of Laura because of her past threats, but in true film noir fashion, his attraction to Laura is too strong and he can't keep away. Desire, lies, jewel theft, murder and ice skating definitely make for a most interesting and bizarre combination.
Dubbed "Audrey Totter on ice" by the Czar of Noir, Eddie Muller (film historian, writer and TCM Noir Alley host), Belita was an Olympic ice skater who had hoped to have a successful transition to film, much like her fellow figure skater Sonja Henie. (Belita and Henie had both competed in the 1936 Winter Olympics, with Henie winning the gold medal. Belita came in 16th place.) Belita, whose full name was Maria Gladys Olive Lyne Jepson-Turner, was born in England to Major William Jepson-Turner and his wife Queenie Jepson-Turner. According to Muller, Queenie was the very definition of a "stage mother," using her own failed ambitions to be a successful dancer and skater to push her daughter into performing before she was a year old. Belita hoped to have the same level of success as Henie, who was a huge star for Twentieth Century-Fox and one of the highest paid stars in Hollywood at that time. Belita managed to get the attention of the less-prestigious Monogram Pictures, signing a seven-year contract. While her career might have been overshadowed by her more famous contemporary, Belita arguably had the more interesting film career, albeit very short, starring in a trio of significant films noir: Suspense (1946), The Gangster (1947) and The Hunted. In 1956, after years of performing in traveling figure skating shows, Belita officially retired from the sport. That same year, she appeared in Gene Kelly's ambitious Invitation to the Dance (1956). Belita moved back to her native England and enjoyed a career in television, eventually retiring from acting to live a quiet life with her second husband, James Berwick.
New Jersey native Preston Foster got his start in Hollywood in 1929 primarily playing uncredited bit parts. But by 1932, Foster established himself as a solid supporting character actor, starring alongside Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray and Lee Tracy in Michael Curtiz's horror-comedy Doctor X and with Paul Muni in I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, directed by Mervyn LeRoy. By 1940, Foster had starred in well over 50 feature-length films, playing everything from hardened criminals to romantics, including several films with director John Ford: The Informer (1935), The Plough and the Stars (1936) and Submarine Patrol (1938). Foster was also a singer and composer, often performing live concerts and on various radio programs. By the mid-to-late 1950s, Foster primarily worked in television, starring in series such as Waterfront (1954-1955) and Gunslinger (1961). Foster's final on-screen performance was in Chubasco (1967) before his death in 1970 at the age of 69.
Novelist and screenwriter Steve Fisher was a staple in film noir with his original screenplays as well as a pulp fiction magazine icon. Fisher was one of the most popular writers in Hollywood, penning original stories and adapted screenplays, such as 1941's I Wake Up Screaming and Destination Tokyo (1943), both original stories adapted for the screen and the latter earning Fisher an Academy Award Nomination for Best Original Story. Fisher also wrote screenplays for Robert Montgomery's Lady in the Lake (1946), Song of the Thin Man (1947) and City That Never Sleeps (1953). In addition to his successful film career, Fisher was also a prolific television writer, contributing to popular shows like Peter Gunn, The Loretta Young Show (1953-1961) and Fantasy Island.
With the combination of the strong presence of Preston Foster, the odd intrigue of Belita and the remarkable talents of Steve Fisher, The Hunted is an interesting entry in the film noir genre.
Director: Jack Bernhard
Producer: Scott R. Dunlap
Screenplay: Steve Fisher
Cinematography: Harry Neumann
Editing: Richard V. Heermance
Art Direction: Frank Paul Sylos
Music: Edward J. Kay
Cast: Preston Foster (Johnny Saxon), Belita (Laura Mead), Pierre Watkin (Simon Rand), Edna Holland (Miss Turner), Russell Hicks (Dan Meredith) and Larry J. Blake (Hollis Smith).
Belita: The Ice Queen of Film Noir by Eddie Muller (http://www.filmnoirfoundation.org/belita.pdf)
By Jill Blake
According to a July 12, 1945 Los Angeles Examiner news item, King Bros. Productions, Inc. purchased Steve Fisher's original screen story, "Hunted," and intended to produce it on a budget of $400,000 with Joel McCrea as the star. An April 1947 Variety news item indicated that Allied Artists had purchased the property from the King brothers for $75,000. Although copyright registration documents credit Paul Guilfoyle with the role of "Hollis Smith," Larry Blake is credited with the role in numerous other sources. Actor J. Farrell MacDonald appears in an early Hollywood Reporter production chart cast list but his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed.