Sunday, February 14, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Mexican Manhunt (1953) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

The Allied Artists film MEXICAN MANHUNT (1953), starring longtime favorite George Brent, was just released by the Warner Archive.

MEXICAN MANHUNT is a pleasant chase movie which was Brent's last starring feature film. It followed other enjoyable low-budget crime films with Brent such as FBI GIRL (1951) and MAN BAIT (1952). While MEXICAN MANHUNT is nothing particularly special, I found it an enjoyable 71 minutes, thanks largely to Brent's performance as a genial, unflappable crime writer.

Author Dave Brady (Brent) has been on the trail of a newspaper reporter who vanished from Los Angeles on the eve of a major crime trial 15 years previously. The reporter, Tip Morgan (Morris Ankrum), had learned key information regarding the trial but, after being threatened by mobsters, went into hiding in Mexico to protect his young daughter Linda (Karen Sharpe, who later married Stanley Kramer).

Tip has recently been diagnosed with a bad heart and, with his daughter now 18, he's ready to go back to Los Angeles and tell what he knows. He writes Dave a letter and asks for his help getting safely back to L.A.

Dave, Tip, Linda, and the Morgans' longtime friend Pablo (Alberto Morin) have a wild ride north, traveling the back roads of Mexico in a convertible while chased by a motley assortment of bad guys (Hillary Brooke, Carleton Young, Stuart Randall, and Marvin Press).

The only problematic plot issue is that the identity of the "Mr. Big" type character is obvious from the first scene; however, that's circumvented by the fact that Dave is smart and figures it out about as quickly as the audience, acting accordingly, though the audience doesn't realize it till the end of the movie.

While most of the film is lighthearted, there's one scene of surprising poignance, and another which is disturbingly violent. "B" movie fans will also enjoy things such as the odd pronunciations of Los Angeles and especially Tucson.

The movie was largely shot on location; I'm not sure if it was actually in Mexico, but the rural auto courts don't look like anything I've seen in U.S. films.

The supporting cast includes Marjorie Lord, who has two scenes as Brent's girlfriend, and Douglas Kennedy.

MEXICAN MANHUNT was directed by Rex Bailey. It was filmed in black and white by William Sickner.

MEXICAN MANHUNT is a terrific-looking print; it's a joy to be able to watch a minor but enjoyable film such as this with a sharp, scratch-free picture, thanks to the Warner Archive. There are no extras.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.


Blogger Jerry E said...

Not seen this film at all. George Brent was an ageing lead by the time he starred here though he did star, along with Dane Clark and Mercedes McCambridge, in a TV series called 'WIRE SERVICE' in 1956. It was shown on UK TV at the time and was quite good as I recall though I have never seen it since that time and it appears virtually forgotten today.

11:42 PM  
Blogger john knight said...

Oddly enough on Oldies website they have WIRE SERVICE as a future release
under the banner "lost TV series"
I hope Warner Archive own the other Brent Allied Artists quickie
TANGIER INCIDENT directed by Laura fave Lew Landers co starring Dorothy Patrick.

6:39 AM  
Blogger ross said...

A few years ago, online, I came across a list of all the films shown at a neighborhood Palo Alto movie house in the 1950's. I was really surprised. So many of the movies were ones I'd never heard of. Not shown on TV often, if ever. Basically forgotten. I just had no idea there were that many films in those days that we don't usually get to see today. Not classics, not Academy Award nominees, not even popular. Just run of the mill product that people went to see week after week. It's cool to see some of these pictures are getting released by Warner Archive now.

8:50 AM  
Blogger Jerry E said...

I agree, Ross (and I feel sure John does also), how great it is to see these 'workaday' little movies made available. A real treasure trove awaiting discovery. Just have to hope more and more get the good treatment that Warner Archive gives 'em.

4:20 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Jerry and John, you have me intrigued by WIRE SERVICE now!

I have really enjoyed Brent's late-career crime films so I really hope that the Archive can put out TANGIER INCIDENT, John!

Ross, what a great anecdote. It underlines something I've felt in recent years, that the more films I see, the more there seems to be to explore, rather than less. So many films out there I knew nothing about, despite a lifetime of loving movies.

I sure agree, Jerry, hope we'll see more and more looking as nice as these Archive prints.

Best wishes to all,

4:33 PM  

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