The Fugitive (1947 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Fugitive
The Fugitive FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed by John Ford
Produced by Merian C. Cooper
Emilio Fernández
John Ford
Written by Dudley Nichols
Based on The Power and the Glory
by Graham Greene
Starring Henry Fonda
Dolores del Río
Pedro Armendáriz
Music by Richard Hageman
Cinematography Gabriel Figueroa
Edited by Jack Murray
Distributed by RKO Pictures
Release dates
November 3, 1947 (1947-11-03)
Running time
104 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1.5 million[1]

The Fugitive is a 1947 drama film starring Henry Fonda and directed by John Ford, based on the novel The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene. The film was shot on location in Mexico, and utilised the skills of Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa.


A nameless and conflicted Catholic priest is a fugitive in an unnamed Latin American country where religion is outlawed. Another fugitive, a murderous bandit dubbed "El Gringo", comes to town. He and a beautiful Indian woman conspire to help the priest escape. Taken to safety, the priest is then convinced by a police informant to return to the town on the pretense that "El Gringo" is dying and wishes to receive the last rites. The priest is captured and sentenced to death, but forgives the informant for betraying him. The priest's execution by firing squad brings an outpouring of public grief and shows the authorities that it is impossible to stamp out religion as long as it exists in people's hearts and minds.



Tag Gallagher has written an extended discussion of the film in his book, John Ford: The Man and His Films (1986). He summarizes The Fugitive and its place in Ford's career as follows: "... once in Mexico, Ford jettisoned most of the script and, giving leave to his fancy, made a highly abstract art film. The Fugitive lost considerable money, caused a rift between [writer Dudley] Nichols and Ford, and has posed problems even for Ford’s most devoted followers. Only the director himself consistently defended it. 'I just enjoy looking at it.' 'To me, it was perfect.' And in terms of composition, lighting and editing, The Fugitive may be among the most enjoyable pictures."[2]

Bret Wood has written, "Ford is best remembered today for his boisterous adventure films, such as The Quiet Man (1952), The Searchers (1956) or She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949); and for his crusty, unpretentious demeanor, often denying the existence of thematic subtext in his work and refusing to discuss his artistic intentions as a director. But The Fugitive belongs to an earlier, lesser known faction of his work, self-consciously 'arty' films that demonstrated his interests in German expressionism, English literature and religious ideology. Films such as The Informer (1935), The Prisoner of Shark Island (1936) or The Long Voyage Home (1940), remind us that beneath Ford's growling machismo were a sophisticated mind and a brilliant visual sense, even though Ford was later to deny both gifts ('I make Westerns' is how he typically summarized his career). The Fugitive is perhaps Ford's last great 'art film', a high-minded show of faith, a lovingly crafted paean to his own Catholicism."[3]


The film gained the prize of the International Catholic Organization for Cinema (OCIC) at the Venice Film Festival in 1948. According to this jury, this was a film "most capable of contributing to the revival of moral and spiritual values of humanity".[citation needed]


  1. ^ Blondell, McCrea Team; Twins' Subject Chosen Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 19 Mar 1946: A3.
  2. ^ Gallagher, Tag (1986). John Ford: The Man and His Films. University of California Press. p. 234. ISBN 9780520063341.  Gallagher has made an electronic version of his book freely available for download; see "Tag Gallagher". Retrieved 2013-04-22.  Page numbers don't correspond exactly to the printed version.
  3. ^ Wood, Bret. "The Fugitive". Turner Classic Movies. 

External links[edit]