“Man on the Run” Films: Four Top Ten Lists
by David L. Vineyard

   This will be very subjective, and off the top of my head. Arguments and additions are welcome. I’ve found these Top Ten lists often end up a Top 100 pretty easily, as every film leads to another.

   Unlike my previous Top Twenty list, I am not limiting myself to one film to a director, but I will make do with only two Hitchcock films. I debated whether or not to include I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang and decided to stick to thriller and adventure films.

   I’ve also arbitrarily stuck to the “innocent” man on the run theme. And if anyone is wondering I’ve also left out books and films like Day of the Jackal or He Walked by Night because they are more man hunt films than man on the run. Again, I’ve avoided those that are strictly urban based and stuck to the rough country designation, so no Odd Man Out or The Big Clock.

        Top Ten Man on the Run Movies:

1. North by Northwest


2. The 39 Steps/The Most Dangerous Game (between the two of them almost every trope of the genre is developed)
3. Man Hunt
4. The Clouded Yellow
5. The Fugitive (Harrison Ford, not the disappointing John Ford film of Graham Greene’s Power and the Glory)
6. The Naked Prey
7. Lonely Are the Brave
8. State Secret/Highly Dangerous (I’m tied on these two British film, the first by Gilliat and Launder with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and the latter a Roy Boulting film with screenplay by Eric Ambler)
9. Death Hunt
10. The Bourne Identity

        Top Ten Man on the Run in Wartime Films:

1. The 49th Parallel (aka The Invaders in the US)


2. The Great Escape
3. The Mackenzie Break
4. Man at Large (fine little B film with George Reeves about a Nazi POW escaped and on the run in the US, very much in the 39 Steps vein)
5. Desperate Journey (RAF pilots Errol Flynn, Ronald Reagan, Alan Hale, and Arthur Kennedy play at Dumas Musketeers behind the lines while evading Nazi Raymond Massey)
6. The Pied Piper (Englishman Monty Woolley has to get a band of children out of France as it falls to the Nazi’s)
7. Eye of the Needle
8. Northern Pursuit
9. Ill Met By Moonlight
10. The Seventh Cross

        Top Ten Comedic Man on the Run Films:

1. My Favorite Blonde


2. Once Upon a Honeymoon
3. To Be Or Not to Be
4. Arise My Love (pilot Ray Milland and reporter Claudette Colbert romance and try to escape from Europe as WW II breaks out)
5. Silver Streak
6. The President’s Analyst
7. The General
8. The In-Laws (the original, not the remake)
9. It’s a Wonderful World (screwball comedy with fugitive private eye James Stewart and poet Claudette Colbert trying to clear Ernest Truex of murder before his execution)
10. Tight Little Island (aka Whisky Galore!, though admittedly it’s a more booze on the run than man on the run film)

   And in for a penny in for a pound:

        Top Ten Man on the Run Western Movies:

1. Pursued


2. The Capture
3. Drums Along the Mohawk (turns into a literal man on the run film)
4. Red Mountain
5. The Redhead and the Cowboy
6. The Last of the Mohicans (Randolph Scott or Michael Mann version)
7. Hildalgo (okay, it’s a race, give me one)
8. Waterhole #3 (okay, we’ll relax the ‘innocent’ part)
9. Apache
10. The Last Wagon

    Note: I know I’ll get more grief about this, but I don’t think First Blood the movie or the book makes the top ten or twenty of the books or films. I can easily think of twenty better books and films, but that’s subjective, which I grant this is.

   Frankly I don’t think anyone would remember the book without the film or either one without Rambo, and while I like the book I think there are better examples. I agree with Leonard Maltin who gives the film only one and a half stars.