Monday, 15 July 2013


'Hunted' is a low key, rather sad noir-ish drama from 1952. It stars Dirk Bogarde and a fantastic little boy called Jon Whiteley, perhaps the best child actor I've ever seen.

An uneasy beginning.

The set up is simplicity itself. Dirk plays Chris, a merchant seaman who comes home unexpectedly and finds his beloved wife at it with some cynical stuffed shirt who needs clocking. Clock him he does, but kills him. It's a crime of passion, but it still carries the death penalty. Totally by chance, a small boy, Robbie (Whiteley) happens across the scene of the crime and, in a panic, Chris grabs him and takes him with him.

The Kidnap.


Dirk tries to go solo...

...but they end up back together.

The plan for Chris is to simply get away, and the rest of the film charts the journey from a bombed out London to a Scottish port at the very edge of the British Isles, and, of course, the emotional journey (Jesus, I hate that term but here it actually does happen) that they undergo in each others company. Basically, they learn to love each other, not in a creepy way but in a very believable, very moving way (before you start - I will delete any comments about pa*dophilia unless they are extremely funny),  

Dirk may have killed in the heat of the moment, but he isn't a bad bloke; poor little Robbie is an orphan with an indifferent foster mother and a violent foster father. Chris gives Robbie the opportunity to go 'home' on a number of occasions, but the little fellow just tags along, chasing the only real father figure he has ever known. Despite his desperate circumstances, Chris puts Robbie first - spending his last money on food for the boy, and carrying him over miles of rough terrain until, in the end, Chris' feeling for Robbie overtakes his survival instinct, and he knowingly sacrifices himself for the sake of his little mate.

Dirk decides.

Facing justice.

Dirk is excellent: sympathetic and doomed, occasionally brusque but kind and loving at heart. As Robbie, Jon Whiteley is absolutely brilliant - incredibly natural, sweet, funny, brave. It's a tremendous performance and it isn't his only one - for his next film, 'The Little Kidnappers', he received an honorary Oscar. He did a few more films (including reuniting with Dirk in 'The Spanish Gardener') and was great in all of them before his Mum decided that enough was enough and he needed to pack in the biz and concentrate on his education.

As it happens, Mrs. Whiteley was right - whereas most child actors end up in shitty sitcoms or laid in an alley with a crack pipe wedged up their arse, grown up Jon is now a highly distinguished art historian at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Hurrah!

1 comment:

  1. This may be where I went wrong; I merely dabbled in the Dramatic Arts as a youngster, and I can barely, if ever afford crack these days.