Saturday, February 3, 2024

Daddy's Gone A-Hunting

Another one of those movies that I recorded more because the plot synopsis sounded interesting, not having heard about it before I saw it show up on TCM, was the late 1960s thriller Daddy's Gone A-Hunting. Recently, I finally got around to watching it off the DVR.

Tragic British actress Carol White, brought over to Hollywood presumably to be the next big British thing in Hollywood, plays Cathy, a young woman who has just left the UK for a new job in San Francisco. On her first day in town, not long after arriving, she makes the acquaintance of a rather oddball guy, Ken Daly (Scott Hylands). He's a photographer who sees Cathy and is immediately taken with her, and thinks that the best way to make a good first impression on her is by throwing a snowball at her. This makes no sense, but it's a movie, so just go with it. Needless to say, the two hit it off.

They don't just start dating, but they pretty quickly move in together as well as start having sex, because who doesn't want to have hot steamy sex? Cathy, however, learns in fairly short order that Kenneth is more than just an oddball, in fact a rather demanding man who doesn't seem to happy about her doing better than him. That, and his controlling behavior. Unfortunately, Cathy didn't learn quickly enough, because by the time she figures out she doesn't want anything to do with him any more, she's gotten pregnant.

Not only does Cathy not tell Ken about her being pregnant, she does something controversial for the late 1960s -- she gets an abortion. And she lives happily ever after, dumping Ken and eventually finding true love in the form of Jack (Paul Burke), a scion of a family where such scions are groomed for bigger things, like elections to Congress. And after the wedding, the two of them set about raising a family.

But Cathy's having married someone relatively prominent means that it's going to be easier for Ken to find her. That's bad enough. Worse is that Ken really, really hates abortion in general, and especially so considering the fact that his baby was aborted. So he starts stalking Cathy, who knows she's being stalked but has never been able to tell Jack about the relationship with Kenneth and the fact that it resulted in an abortion. It would have been too much of a stigma in the late 1960s, and it would be easy to see how Cathy could believe letting the abortion become public knowledge might scuttle Jack's nascent political career.

This allows Ken to up the ante. Cathy killed his child, so he's going to make her expiate her sin... by forcing her to kill her own child! He's not going to do it since that would be wrong, but he's got some insane scheme to kidnap the baby and then force Cathy to kill it, even if unkowingly....

Daddy's Gone A-Hunting most certainly does have an interesting premise. Unfortunately, I have to say that I think it could have been executed better. As I was watching the movie I found myself thinking of another late 1960s film that goes way too far over the top, Once You Kiss a Stranger, the more lurid remake of Alfred Hitchcock's classic Strangers on a Train. The thing is that in the Hitchcock movie, the meeting between the two main players is a chance one with Farley Granger never expecting to see Robert Walker again. Here, you can't help but think Cathy should have run away the minute Ken hit her with that snowball. Of course, then we wouldn't have a movie.

So watch Daddy's Gone A-Hunting to see in interesting but flawed movie.

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