The Fugitive Kind
- For the 1937 Tennessee Williams play, see Fugitive Kind.
|The Fugitive Kind|
|Directed by||Sidney Lumet|
|Music by||Kenyon Hopkins|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Running time||119 minutes|
|Box office||$2,100,000 (US/ Canada)|
The Fugitive Kind is a 1959 American drama film starring Marlon Brando and Anna Magnani, and directed by Sidney Lumet. The screenplay by Meade Roberts and Tennessee Williams was based on the latter's 1957 play Orpheus Descending, itself a revision of his unproduced 1939 work Battle of Angels.
Despite being set in the Deep South, the United Artists release was filmed in Milton, New York. At the 1960 San Sebastián International Film Festival, it won the Silver Seashell for Sidney Lumet and the Zulueta Prize for Best Actress for Joanne Woodward.
A stage production also took place in 2010 at the Arclight Theatre starring Michael Brando, grandson of Marlon Brando, in the lead role. This particular production used the edited film version of the text as opposed to the original play.
Valentine "Snakeskin" Xavier, a guitar-playing drifter, flees New Orleans in order to avoid arrest. He finds work in a small-town five-and-dime owned by an embittered older woman known as Lady Torrance, whose vicious husband Jabe lies on his deathbed in their apartment above the store. Both alcoholic nymphomaniac Carol Cutrere and simple housewife Vee Talbott set their sights on the newcomer, but Val succumbs to the charms of Lady, who plans to set him up with a refreshment bar. Sheriff Talbott, a friend of Jabe, threatens to kill Val if he remains in town, but he chooses to stay when he discovers Lady is pregnant. His decision sparks Jabe's jealousy and leads to tragic consequences.
- Marlon Brando as Val Xavier
- Joanne Woodward as Carol Cutrere
- Anna Magnani as Lady Torrance
- Maureen Stapleton as Vee Talbot
- Victor Jory as Jabe Torrance
- R.G. Armstrong as Sheriff Talbot
- John Baragrey as David Cutrere
In his review in The New York Times, Bosley Crowther described the film as a "piercing account of loneliness and disappointment in a crass and tyrannical world . . . [Sidney Lumet's] plainly perceptive understanding of the deep-running skills of the two stars, his daring with faces in close-up and his out-right audacity in pacing his film at a morbid tempo that lets time drag and passions slowly shape are responsible for much of the insistence and the mesmeric quality that emerge . . . Mr. Brando and Miss Magnani . . . being fine and intelligent performers . . . play upon deep emotional chords . . . Miss Woodward is perhaps a bit too florid for full credibility . . . But Miss Stapleton's housewife is touching and Victor Jory is simply superb as the inhuman, sadistic husband . . . An excellent musical score by Kenyon Hopkins, laced with crystalline sounds and guitar strains, enhances the mood of sadness in this sensitive film."
In the Chicago Reader, Jonathan Rosenbaum observed, "Unfortunately, director Sidney Lumet, who's often out of his element when he leaves New York, seems positively baffled by the gothic south and doesn't know quite what to do with the overlay of Greek myth either."
The Time Out London Film Guide feels that "despite its stellar credentials, just about everything is wrong with this adaptation of Tennessee Williams' play Orpheus Descending . . . Lumet's direction is either ponderous or pretentious, and he failed to crack the problem of the florid stage dialogue and a dangerously weak role for Brando," and Channel 4 describes it as "a less than satisfying experience . . . disappointing stuff."
In Popular Culture
- The Fugitive Kind at the Internet Movie Database
- The Fugitive Kind at AllMovie
- The Fugitive Kind at the TCM Movie Database