Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Raoul Walsh|
|Produced by||Milton Sperling|
|Screenplay by||Niven Busch|
|Music by||Max Steiner|
|Cinematography||James Wong Howe|
|Edited by||Christian Nyby|
United States Pictures
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Box office||$2.9 million (US rentals)|
Pursued is a 1947 film that combines western film noir and psychological melodrama. The picture was directed by Raoul Walsh and features Teresa Wright, Robert Mitchum, Judith Anderson and Dean Jagger.
Set in New Mexico around the turn of the 20th century and told in flashback, the film tells the story of Jeb Rand (Mitchum), whose entire family was slaughtered when he was a child. In the aftermath of the massacre, Jeb is found by Mrs. Callum, a widow, who raises him in her family. Traumatized by the killings, Jeb does not recall anything of that night, except for vague images that he sees in a frequent nightmare. Mrs. Callum raises him as her own son, together with her daughter Thorley and her son Adam. Years later, Jeb is shot at while riding a colt, but the shooter misses him; although Mrs. Callum blames the incident on deer hunters, she knows that it was an attempted murder by her brother-in-law Grant. Mrs. Callum confronts Grant and it is revealed that Jeb's father took the life of Mrs. Callum's husband, and Grant was the one who killed Jeb's parents in an act of revenge and swore to kill Jeb when he was old enough. Mrs Callum pleads with Grant to leave Jeb alone, reasoning that he is not a threat to anyone. Grant agrees to let Jeb live but only to prove that when he is old enough, he will turn on Callum.
Years later, Jeb, Adam and Thorley are adults and one day law officials arrive to recruit volunteers to join the US Army to battle the Spaniards. Jeb and Adam are told that one of them must join and after agreeing on a coin toss, Jeb loses and signs up. Jeb is injured in battle and while recuperating in hospital experiences his flashbacks to the night of his family's murder once again. Due to his injuries he is honorably discharged from the army and sent home and awarded the Medal of Honor.
Although adoptive brother and sister, Jeb and Thorley have long been in love and after his homecoming celebration Jeb tried to convince Thorley to run away with him and get married as soon as possible as he suspects that someone, or something is following him. Thorley refuses stating she wants to get married on her own terms and not out of fear. Jeb goes for a long horse ride in order to clear his head and stumbles upon an abandoned ranch which he suspects he has seen before. His mother confirms that the ranch is indeed where he and his real parents lived when Jeb was a child and the same ranch where they were murdered. In order to earn money so he can provide for himself and Thorley, Jeb plans to take his share of his inheritance and gamble at a casino. Adam expresses anger at the fact that Jeb is listed in their mother's will to receive the same amount of money as he and Thorley will upon her death, despite Jeb leaving the ranch to fight in the war and Adam continuing to work solidly on the ranch.
Jeb wins big at the casino and the owner Jake Dingle offers him to become his partner. Meanwhile Adam has researched Jeb's past and knows about his murderous parents and their subsequent deaths. Still furious about their financial situation, Adam attempts to kill Jeb on his way back from the casino but is killed in self defense. Jeb is acquitted of the murder in court but is shunned by Thorley and Mrs Callum who states that Jeb is dead to him. With no family, job or home of his own, Jeb accepts Jake Dingle's offer and becomes part owner of the casino. Months later at the town dance Jeb discovers that Thorley is engaged to a man named Prentice. Grant alerts Prentice as to what Jeb did to Thorley's brother and convinces him to make an attempt on Jeb's life. Prentice attempts to ambush Jeb on his way home but is gunned down in self defense.
Some time later Thorley and Mrs Callum hatch a plan to gain revenge on Jeb for the pain he has caused them. Thorley pretends to forgive Jeb and agrees to marry him, planning to murder him on their wedding night. On the night in question Thorley can not bring herself to carry out the murder and reconciles with Jeb, somehow knowing in her heart that he is innocent and that he truly loves her. Tired of waiting, Grant rounds up a gang and they chase Jeb across the desert intending to finish the job he started all those years ago. Jeb is shot and finally recalls the night of his parent's murder, realizing it was Grant who killed them and that Mrs Callum was there too. It is revealed that Mrs Callum had an affair with Jeb's father and when her husband found about it, he attempted to murder him but was killed in self defense, resulting in Grant slaughtering Jeb's entire family in order to avenge his brother's death. Mrs Callum upon learning that Jeb survived the slaughter, adopted him out of guilt. Thorley pleads with her mother not to allow Jeb to be hanged, stating there is still time to make up for her actions. As Grant is about to hang Jeb, Mrs Callum shoots him dead. She asks for and receives forgiveness from Jeb and Thorley, and advises them to look to the future and enjoy their lives together.
- Teresa Wright as Thor
- Robert Mitchum as Jeb
- Judith Anderson as Mrs. Callum
- Dean Jagger as Grant
- Alan Hale Sr. as Jake Dingle
- John Rodney as Adam
- Harry Carey, Jr. as Prentice
- Bobby "Bonedust" Young as The Sergeant
- Ernest Severn as Jeb, age 11
- Charles Bates as Adam, age 11
- Peggy Miller as Thor, age 10
- Norman Jolley as A Callum
- Lane Chandler as A Callum
- Elmer Ellingwood as A Callum
- Jack Montgomery as A Callum
Film critic Bosley Crowther wrote a mixed review, "... the strange and angry actions which occur through the tortuous wanderings of this drama seem decidedly bewildering and absurd. What's so significant about a fellow—even though he may be a foster-child—finding life slightly oppressive on a primitive New Mexican ranch? ... As we say, without the revelation which comes rather patly at the end, the urgency of these weighty questions is hard to grasp as the picture drones along. And it is likewise hard to work up any sympathy for the hero, who seems bored by all his woes. That may be because Robert Mitchum, who plays the latter, is a very rigid gent and gives off no more animation than a Frigidaire turned to 'Defrost.'"
Variety magazine, on the other hand, praised the film. The Variety staff wrote, "Pursued is potent frontier days western film fare. Standout in picture is suspense generated by the original script and Raoul Walsh's direction. It builds the western gunman's death walk to high moments of thrill and action. Strong casting also is a decided factor in selling the action wares. Production makes use of natural outdoor backgrounds supplied by New Mexico scenery, lending air of authenticity that is fully captured by the camera."
- "How to Make A Movie For £610,000". The Mail. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 18 October 1947. p. 10 Supplement: Sunday Magazine. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
- "Top Grossers of 1947". Variety: 63. 7 January 1948. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
- Pursued at the American Film Institute Catalog.
- Crowther, Bosley (March 8, 1947). "' Pursued,' a Western Drama by Niven Busch, With Robert Mitchum and Teresa Wright in Leads, Opens at Strand". The New York Times. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
- Variety Staff (December 31, 1946). "Review: 'Pursued'". Variety. Retrieved July 25, 2013.