The Fugitive Kind

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For the 1937 Tennessee Williams play, see Fugitive Kind.
The Fugitive Kind
Original poster
Directed bySidney Lumet
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based onOrpheus Descending
by Tennessee Williams
Music byKenyon Hopkins
CinematographyBoris Kaufman
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • April 14, 1960 (1960-04-14) (New York City)
Running time
119 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$2,100,000 (US/ Canada)[1]

The Fugitive Kind is a 1960 American drama film starring Marlon Brando, Anna Magnani, and Joanne Woodward. 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 1940 work Battle of Angels.

Despite being set in the Deep South, the United Artists release was filmed in Milton, New York.[2] 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.

The film is available on videotape and DVD. A two-disc DVD edition by The Criterion Collection was released in April 2010. It was upgraded to Blu-Ray in January 2020.

A stage production also took place in 2010 at the Arclight Theatre starring Michael Brando, grandson of Marlon Brando, in the lead role. That 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 imprisonment. He finds work in a small-town five-and-dime operated by an embittered older woman known as Lady Torrance, whose vicious husband Jabe lies ill in their apartment above the store. An undercurrent of violence, past and present, dominates the town. Both alcohol-fuelled libertine Carol Cutrere and simple housewife Vee Talbott set their sights on the newcomer, but Snakeskin is attracted to Lady, who has grand plans to open a confectionery wing to the store. Sheriff Talbott, a friend of Jabe, threatens to kill Snakeskin if he remains in town, but he chooses to stay when he discovers Lady is pregnant. It sparks Jabe's final acts of resentment, leading to tragic consequences.


Critical reception[edit]

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.[3]

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."[4]

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",[5] and Channel 4 describes it as "a less than satisfying experience . . . disappointing stuff."[6]

In popular culture[edit]

Some dialogue from a scene in the film was used by Australian hip hop trio Bliss n Eso in their song "Never Land", off their album Running on Air.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Rental Potentials of 1960", Variety, 4 January 1961 p 47. Please note figures are rentals as opposed to total gross.
  2. ^ Thomson, David. "The Fugitive Kind: When Sidney Went to Tennessee". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  3. ^ The New York Times review
  4. ^ Chicago Reader review
  5. ^ Time Out London Film Guide review
  6. ^ Channel 4 review

External links[edit]