The Chase (1966 film)

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The Chase
The Chase - 1966 Poster.jpg
Directed by Arthur Penn
Produced by Sam Spiegel
Written by Horton Foote (play "The Chase")
Lillian Hellman screenplay (Spiegel had it rewritten)
Starring Marlon Brando
Jane Fonda
Robert Redford
E.G. Marshall
Angie Dickinson
Music by John Barry
Cinematography Joseph LaShelle & Robert Surtees (uncredited)
Edited by Gene Milford
Production
company
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • February 19, 1966 (1966-02-19)
Running time 133 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $2.3 million (est. U.S./Canada rentals)[1]

The Chase is a 1966 American drama film directed by Arthur Penn and starring Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda, and Robert Redford, about a series of events set into motion by a prison break. Because one of the two escapees is Charlie "Bubba" Reeves (Redford), wrongly assumed to be responsible for a murder, the escape causes a stir in a nearby town where Bubba is a well-known figure. The supporting cast features E.G. Marshall, Angie Dickinson, Janice Rule, Miriam Hopkins, Martha Hyer, and Robert Duvall.

Plot[edit]

In a small Texas town where banker Val Rogers wields a great deal of influence, word comes that native son Bubba Reeves and another man have escaped from prison.

Sheriff Calder, who continues to believe in Bubba's innocence, expects him to return to his hometown, where Bubba's lonely wife Anna is now involved in a romantic affair with Bubba's best friend, Val Rogers' son Jake.

Bubba is left on his own after the second fugitive kills a stranger for his car and clothes. The townspeople, conflicted about his guilt or innocence, socialize and drink heavily while awaiting Bubba's return. They include the hostile Emily Stewart, who openly expresses her lust for Damon Fuller in front of her husband, Edwin.

As the drinking and quarreling intensify, a group of vigilantes demand action from Calder. When he defies them, they beat Calder brutally before the sheriff's loyal wife Ruby is able to get to his side.

Bubba sneaks into town, hiding in an auto junkyard. Anna and Jake willingly set out to help him, and the townspeople follow, turning the event into a drunken revelry and setting the junkyard on fire, causing an explosion which mortally wounds Jake. A bloodied and beaten Calder manages to get to Bubba first, but while leading him into the jail, one of the vigilantes aims a gun at Bubba and shoots him.

By morning, Calder has had enough of these people, and he and Ruby leave town forever.

Cast[edit]

Outline and production[edit]

The film deals with themes of racism (including scenes in which black men are harassed by white men), sexual revolution (many of the characters are openly engaged in affairs), small-town corruption (the sheriff is falsely assumed to be in the pocket of the man who helped appoint him), and vigilantism (in the form of townspeople who openly defy the sheriff in their search for Bubba). The movie is perhaps best known for a scene in which the sheriff played by Marlon Brando is brutally beaten by three of the vigilantes; Brando would later cite this scene as an example of Method acting.

Paul Williams thought this movie would be his big break, but after working on the film for 3 months, he had just a small part.[2] Another star of the 1960s, Faye Dunaway, did some auditioning for the film, but got dismissed by the casting team in favor of Jane Fonda. Following this, Arthur Penn tested her and cast her for his next film, Bonnie and Clyde.

Reception[edit]

On release, the film gained generally positive reviews from critics but opened to poor level of rentals. Richard Schickel was particularly dismissive in Life magazine. Pointing out its origins in the Horton Foote play, he wrote: "The Chase is no longer a modest failure ... it has been turned into a disaster of awesome proportions".[3] Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 80% of critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 6.5/10.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Big Rental Pictures of 1966", Variety, 4 January 1967 p 8
  2. ^ Paul Williams interview. Songfacts. Retrieved July 9, 2007.
  3. ^ Richard Schickel "Small Flop Grows Into a Disaster", Life, 60:9, 4 March 1966, p.12

Further reading[edit]

  • Parish, James Robert (2006). Fiasco - A History of Hollywood’s Iconic Flops. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 359 pages. ISBN 978-0-471-69159-4. 

External links[edit]