“Go ahead, lieutenant — prove yourself a hero!”
A prison security lieutenant (Barry Sullivan) chases a fugitive (Vittorio Gassman) through the bayous of Louisiana.
As noted in Time Out‘s capsule review, this fugitive thriller by low-budget director Joseph H. Lewis is “hardly original, but highly enjoyable.” While there isn’t much to the story — law enforcement official chases desperate fugitive, stupidly lets him get away, then vows to catch him again at any cost — there’s plenty of atmosphere, and Sullivan and Gassman make sympathetic protagonists. Less impressive is the cast of supporting characters — including William Conrad as Sullivan’s beady-eyed partner, Mary Zavian as Gassman’s swarthy backwoods wife, Jonathan Cott as a bigoted deputy, and Polly Bergen as Sullivan’s loyal wife — who come across as walking embodiments of cliches. In addition, for every creative noir quip in the film (and there are plenty), the next one is a clunker. Ultimately, Cry of the Hunted remains an atmospheric thriller, yet not quite a great one, and will likely be of most interest to fans of Lewis’s work.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Hunky Vittorio Gassman as the fugitive
- Good use of Louisiana’s backwood bayous
- Plenty of zingy one-liners: “Now I know why your eyes are always at half-mast, sheriff: your brain is dead.” (But just as many are duds — i.e., “At this rate, I’ll become a cuckoo without a clock.”)
No. This is one of Joseph Lewis’s lesser films, and not essential viewing.