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A Unique Western: PURSUED (1947)

Review Copyright Roger Zotti, 2001

Pursued

Pursued, a suspenseful western, is the story of Jeb Rand, a man who sets out to find the murderer of his father.

Casting
Montgomery Clift, at the time a New York stage actor, was originally considered for the role of Jeb Rand. After Cliff was attired in cowboy gear, Warner Bros. chieftain Jack Warner said he looked silly and sent him packing.

Kirk Douglas's screen test was impressive, but Warner was offset by the actor's cleft chin. Like Clift before him, Douglas was told to go home.

Robert Mitchum's screen test was also convincing. Of course, Mitchum, like Douglas, had a cleft in his chin. But it didn't bother Warner; and Mitchum, whose previous film credits included several "Hopalong Cassidy" films, got the role.

Triumphant in Rebecca, Alfred Hitchcock's first American film, Judith Anderson was cast as Medora Callum, the woman who raises Mitchum's character along with her own daughter and son. Cast as her daughter was the always excellent Teresa Wright, and as the obsessed, evil Judge Grant Callum, the studio went with Dean Jagger.

Let's not discount the past as a character, because it continually intrudes on the principal characters, especially Rand, of whom John Belton wrote: "...the forces of the past which, like unseen furies, pursue him."

Director
Assigned to direct was Raoul Walsh, a veteran of nearly one hundred films since 1914. Walsh possessed a raucous sense of humor and looked like a pirate with his black eye patch. Because of his relaxed approach to directing, Mitchum enjoyed working with him. In Robert Mitchum: Baby, I Don't Care, Lee Server wrote,

"...it bordered on the disinterested and sometimes crossed right over the border. [Walsh] would often turn his back or wander off during a take, more concerned with coordinating his pouch of tobacco and his rolling papers than in watching the actors. 'He would roll cigarettes with one hand on the blind side,' Mitchum recalled. 'And as he was walking away from the set the tobacco would fall out, and he would light it and - phew! Finally there would be a protracted silence, and he would say, 'Is it over? Okay, cut. What's next?'"

Mitchum also said that Walsh, whom Server called "one of the least neurotic men in Hollywood," was terrific and "had great confidence in everybody..."



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