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The working title of this film was Rogue Male. Geoffrey Household's novel first appeared as a serial in Atlantic Monthly (Jul-September 1939). According to Hollywood Reporter news items, John Ford was originally scheduled to direct this film, but instead chose to direct The Eagle Squadron for his own Argosy company. [The Eagle Squadron was not produced, however, and Ford directed How Green Was My Valley for Twentieth Century-Fox later in 1941]. The Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department and the Produced Scripts Collection, both located at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library, disclose that although Jules Furthman wrote two treatments for Man Hunt in June 1940, it is unlikely that his work was included in the final screenplay.
According to Hollywood Reporter news items, first Ida Lupino, then Gene Tierney were set for the role of "Jerry." Virginia Gilmore was also tested for the part, according to Hollywood Reporter, and a February 20, 1941 conference with executive producer Darryl F. Zanuck, located in the studio records, reveals that Anne Baxter and Greer Garson were also under consideration for the part. Walter Pidgeon was borrowed from M-G-M for the production, which marked the American screen debuts of English child actor Roddy McDowall and his sister, Virginia McDowall. The part of "Vaner," who is an adult in Household's book, was specifically re-written for McDowall. Hollywood Reporter news items noted that after filming began, associate producer Kenneth Macgowan left the studio to take a government post, and his duties were assumed by his former assistant, Len Hammond.
According to information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the film was of special concern to the PCA. In a March 4, 1941 memo to PCA head Will H. Hays, official Joseph I. Breen asserted that the final shooting script of the film suggested the "possibility of a very important question of industry policy" due to the depiction of all the Nazi characters as "despicable" and all of the English characters as "sympathetic." Breen feared that the lack of "balance" between the characters would be "judged by great groups of our patrons as 'inflammatory'" due to its resemblance to the "hate pictures" produced during World War I. Breen apprised Jason Joy, the studio's head of public relations, of his concern in early March 1941, as well as warning that the shooting script was unacceptable due to "excessive brutality and gruesomeness" in the scenes depicting "Thorndike's" torture by the Nazis and "the characterization of Jerry as a prostitute."
On March 11, 1941, Breen again wrote to Joy about a March 7, 1941 draft, stating that the depiction of "Jerry" was still unacceptable, although he believed "that this objection could be easily overcome if Jerry were to use some other garb than a tam[-o'-shanter], a trenchcoat, and a bag dangling at the end of her wrist, which three articles are inescapable symbols designating prostitutes." The sequences of "gruesomeness" had been altered to Breen's satisfaction, however. Breen also wrote to Hays on May 11, 1941, informing him that the film would no longer fall within the category of a "hate picture" and noting: "After an extended discussion with the studio in which we sought to point out the great danger involved in this undertaking, it was agreed that the first part of the picture, showing the shocking brutality of the German officers, would be very materially changed, and that, while it would be indicated that the English Captain would be definitely mistreated, much of the detail of the brutalization would be omitted from the finished picture."
According to modern sources, English actress Queenie Leonard acted as Joan Bennett's dialect coach and Ben Silvey served as the unit manager. In 1976, Household's novel was filmed again as Rogue Male by the BBC television network. The British version was directed by Clive Donner and starred Peter O'Toole and John Standing.