huntedHunted, 1972, 42 mins, Blu-ray

The first of the three films from the Pemini Organisation, and Indicator’s tremendous boxset, Hunted feels less like a film and more like a television play from one of those anthology shows that were endlessly  popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Which isn’t a bad thing, really; indeed its best to consider Hunted for what it was- a supporting short feature screened in cinemas immediately before the main presentation, a throwback to what it was like for us in cinemas in the 1970s and 1980s. Continuous programming being what it was in those more enlightened days, when I cheekily stayed in Screen One of the ABC having just seen Blade Runner in order to watch it again for ‘nowt, but had to watch the supporting feature -some drama about a wedding, if I recall correctly- a second time which proved horribly interminable. But that’s just how things were done back then, and I’m sure its likely that some of those supporting features were memorable for other reasons than being an irritating inconvenience in pursuit of revisiting LA2019.

So anyway, Hunted is slim, at just 42 minutes, but even then it feels a little long; it could probably lose another twelve minutes and be the better for it. That being said, the sheer bravura of what the Pemini boys were doing- director Peter Crane never having worked with actors before, finding himself in a one-room set directing Edward Woodward and June Ritchie, no less, over a brisk ten-day shoot with no money, is astonishing really. The blind confidence and enthusiasm of youth, eh? Guys, I salute you in awe.

As it is, sure, it could be a little tighter, but the performances are very good -having grown up knowing him only from The Equaliser TV show, I’m always amazed when I see Woodward actually in something worthy of him, realising he was a very good character actor, and he is excellent here. Its testament to his character and professionalism (and the same is true of June Ritchie) that he gave a very fine performance in something which was so zero-budget that, one must remember, he didn’t actually get paid anything, working with guys just out of film school on their first film project. Again, one has to salute those Pemini boys for their nerve.

peminiThe main course of this Pemini Organisation set from Indicator is yet to come – the brilliant Ian Hendry in Assassin– but even though they were never really intended this way, I think one could screen Hunted and follow it immediately after with Assassin (both films feature on the same Blu-ray disc) replicating at least a taster for how we watched films back when they first came out. I wasn’t able to do that, I only managed to squeeze Hunted onto the end of a long night of tennis, leaving the rest for another night, but I think the two films would compliment each other well for two hours-plus of British 1970s film-making.

Special mention though, for Indicator, who should be hugely applauded for rescuing the three long-lost films presented here in this box-set for us to discover them now. A restoration featurette demonstrates some of the considerable work involved and its more than commendable that such largely unknown and forgotten films could be treated with such reverence, from the film restorations to the 80-page book and on-disc special features (interviews, commentaries, you name it).  This is what physical media is all about.