|Publicity shot of Dirk Bogarde with Jon Whiteley|
Its 1952, we are in the Pimlico/Victoria area of London where we can still see the wartime bomb damage. Across this derelict zone of hardcore we witness a young boy clutching a ragged teddy bear, obviously in a hurry he descends a flight of stairs into the basement of a bombed out warehouse. Its here he discovers a man crouching by a dead body. The man panics, grabs the boy and runs off into the night. Robbie is an orphan; he is six years old and was escaping a further beating from his foster parents for accidently setting fire to their kitchen curtains. The man is Chris Lloyd and he has just murdered his ex employer who it seems was having an affair with his wife while he was away working at sea. Both the man and the boy have their own reasons for not wanting to get caught, but Lloyd does not want the child slowing him down, hoping he can reach his bother who lives in the fishing village of Port Patrick in South West Scotland.
In one of his early starring roles Dirk Bogarde, with great professionalism, portrays the torment of a man on the run that assumes responsibility for a young displaced child. Robbie is played by debut actor seven year old Jon Whiteley who after a friend of the director heard him reciting The Owl and the Pussycat on the radio programme Children’s Hour was called in for a screen test and got the part. A film principally about the relationship between a very young child and a murderer, both on the run and each with there own demons. Retitled The Stranger in Between for its American release, this is a tense thriller that brings to mind J Lee Thompsons Tiger Bay (1959).
Winning the Golden Leopard Award at the 1952 Locarno International Film Festival Hunted (1952) is believable and touching, a compelling piece of work from a director who can bring the best out of his actors. Charles Crichton, who spent a great deal of his long career working for Ealing, is probable best known for The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) and his last film in 1988 A Fish Called Wanda.