Now available on demand from Warner Archive is Cry of the Hunted, an intriguing B picture from MGM directed by Joseph H. Lewis, most famous for such tough and vigorous noirs as Gun Crazy and The Big Combo. Not quite a noir, this film is a hybrid of several genres, and its unpredictability is one of its attractions as it moves from hard-edged urban settings to a more dreamlike, symbolic realm of personal psychological struggle in the swamps.
It starts as a prison story establishing Tunner (Barry Sullivan) as a progressive official in charge of the joint’s maximum security section. Goaded by his laidback boss (Robert Burton), Tunner tries to make a surly Cajun convict named Jory (Italian import Vittorio Gassman, all tight T-shirt and puppy eyes) fink on his companions in robbery. The tension between Tunner and Jory can only be expelled in hard-smacking fisticuffs in the cell, after which they collapse side by side, out of breath and smoking cigarettes because it was evidently good for both of them. So you don’t think we’re just reading that in, a smirking deputy (William Conrad) later asks if they’re “going together”.