Man Hunt (1933) Review, with Junior Durkin and Charlotte Henry

Dislike

Junior
Junior Durkin
Josie
Charlotte Henry
Abraham
Carl Gross
Released by RKO | Directed by Irving Cummings
Run time: 65 minutes

Proof That It’s a Pre-Code Film

  • Racially, there’s some pretty awful stuff here. Junior’s housekeeper’s son, Abraham, is every bad cliche of African-Americans you can picture. Besides constantly being shot in the exact same manner (and often right next to) Junior’s loyal dog, he exists solely to flatter our main character. Abraham starts bawling early in the film after being insulted, which puts off Junior until Abraham reveals, “I wasn’t cryin’ cuz you said I am dumb! I’m cryin cuz I is!”

Man Hunt: Ham Junk

“Why, any morning, one of us may wake up and find ourselves a corpse!”

“A dead corpse?!?”

The only thing endearing about Man Hunt is the dog, named Doctor. He’s a spaniel or something. I don’t know. He’s cute and solves the mystery a goddamn 40 minutes before our lead does. He’s the smartest character in the movie… so yay.

Man Hunt (not to be confused with the superb wartime thriller Man Hunt made in 1941, unless you want to secretly watch that one instead, in which case go ahead) is about a boy who wants to be a detective, so much so that it keeps costing him jobs. Everyone in town thinks he’s a dreamer, and they’re pretty much right. When a new girl shows up in town, Josie (Henry), he’s smitten. Her father, it turns out, is a diamond thief on the run. When his old partner closes in, there’s a murder mystery for the amateur Junior to solve.

The film’s hero gettin’ some pets.

Or, you know, help. Junior wants to be a detective so bad, and he’s so, so bad at it. The most immediate, suspicious character is who Junior immediately asks for help, and he goes to the man again and again even after the guy abuses his dog and screams at him. Meanwhile, Junior becomes cocky about solving Josie’s father’s murder, all the while still eagerly condescending to her: “I’m sorry, Josie, but this is a man’s job!”

This is a bad one, an RKO programmer with little to enjoy. Director Irving Cummings (Attorney for the Defense) has a few good camera movements and keeps the film’s nighttime scenes coherent, which is noticeable, but that may be just because there’s nothing else to see. Unless you’re trying to win a merit badge for seeing every RKO movie or need to see a movie on IMDB that has less than 40 votes and is currently on television, this one is so very, very worth never seeing.

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Other Reviews, Trivia, and Links

  • Not much out there about this one. The film’s star, Junior Durkin, would die in a car accident two years later at the age of 20. The woman who played his mother in this movie, Dorothy Davenport, is billed as Mrs. Wallace Reid, the widow of the silent film star who’d become addicted to morphine after an accident. Davenport traveled the country after that, teaching the dangers of drug addiction alongside the film Human Wreckage (1923). Davenport only made one more film appearance after this in 1934’s The Road to Ruin.

Awards, Accolades & Availability

  • This film is an obscure one. It played recently on TCM, as part of some dare, I assume.

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Danny

Danny is a librarian who lives on the coast of California with his lovely wife, adorable daughter, and yappy dog. He blogs bi-weekly at pre-code.com, a website dedicated to Hollywood films from 1930 to 1934, and can be found on Twitter @PreCodeDotCom.

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