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The Fugitive Kind Criterion Blu-ray Review


“The Fugitive Kind” is loaded with talent, but it never reaches its true potential.

Based on the Tennessee Williams play “Orpheus Descending” and adapted for the screen by Williams and Meade Roberts, “The Fugitive Kind” centers around a guitar playing drifter named Valentine Xavier AKA Snakeskin. Xavier has found himself in trouble in the past and looks to make a new start in a small town where his car breaks down. He lands a job there working at a store, but he lands in hot water yet again when he falls for Lady Torrance (a married woman who runs the store). 

Directed by Sidney Lumet (best known for “Dog Day Afternoon” and “12 Angry Men”), 1960’s “The Fugitive Kind” is the type of southern small town melodrama one would expect from Tennessee Williams. It’s a story about desire, jealousy, connections, tragedy, romance, corruption, and fitting in. In fact, the trouble with this particular adaptation is that it feels like an amalgamation of other better Williams works. The film also suffers from a lack of story as it drowns in dialogue and meandering moments. What little story there is (namely the romance between Lady and Xavier) feels forced and hard to buy into. 

The saving grace here is the acting which is on point (despite how one may feel about the characters themselves). Marlon Brando gives a very subdued and vulnerable performance as Xavier. Joanne Woodward has the biggest and showiest role as the lively, loud and rambunctious Carol. Anne Magnani brings depth Lady Torrance while Maureen Stapleton shines in a small role as Vee. Victor Jory (Jabe Torrance) and R.G. Armstrong (Sheriff) make an impression as two loathsome characters.


Presentation: 1.66:1 1080p. How does it look? The digitally restored B&W film has been given a crisp new transfer.

Audio Track: Uncompressed Mono. How does it sound? A perfectly fine Mono track. 

* A booklet with credits, photos, and an essay by David Thomson.
* A 55 minute long TV program of 3 Sidney Lumet directed Tennessee Williams one-act plays of “Moony’s Kid Don’t Cry,” “The Last of My Solid Gold Watches,” and “This Property Is Condemned.” Easily the most appealing extra here.
* “Hollywood’s Tennessee And The Fugitive Kind”- A 27 minute extra in which Tennessee Williams scholar Robert Bray and film historian R. Barton Palmer discuss cinematic Williams films and “The Fugitive Kind.”
* A 2009 interview with director Sidney Lumet



January 24, 2020 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , ,

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