The Fugitive Kind


2h 15m 1960
The Fugitive Kind

Brief Synopsis

A drifter ignites passions among the women of a Mississippi town.

Film Details

Also Known As
Orpheus Descending, Tennessee Williams' The Fugitive Kind
Genre
Drama
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
May 1960
Premiere Information
New York opening: 14 Apr 1960
Production Company
Jurow-Shepherd-Pennebaker Productions
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Bronx, New York, United States; Milton, New York, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Orpheus Descending by Tennessee Williams, as presented on Broadway by Robert Whitehead for Producers Theatre, Inc. (New York, 21 Mar 1957).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 15m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Synopsis

In New Orleans, musician Valentine "Snakeskin" Xavier, so called because of his trademark snakeskin jacket, explains to a judge that he started a brawl because "my life was something sick in my stomach, so I threw it up." The judge agrees to let him off as long as he leaves the city, so Val takes his beloved guitar and drives east until his truck dies in a small Mississippi town. He seeks shelter at the first illuminated house, where amateur artist Vee Talbot awaits her husband, Sheriff Jordan Talbot, who is chasing down a boy who escaped their jail when Vee left the door ajar. When they hear gunshots in the distance, Vee, realizing the boy has been killed, cries. Impressed with her kindness, Val comforts her and admires her paintings. Learning that he hopes to leave his wild past behind him, Vee suggests that he ask for a job at Jabe Torrance's mercantile store. Jabe, who has terminal cancer, is just returning from the hospital, and he and his wife Lady, who live above the store, will need a salesman. Jordan then returns with his deputies, and after ignoring Val, berates Vee for her carelessness. The next day, Vee brings Val to the Torrances' store, and while he awaits the arrival of Lady and Jabe from the hospital, Carol Cutrere, the daughter of a wealthy local family, recognizes Val and enters the store. Carol is disheveled and unruly, and when Val claims not to know her, she announces that he served as her "entertainment" at a New Orleans party, after which he stole her cousin's watch. Just then, Jabe returns, and while the townspeople welcome him boisterously, Lady stands aside quietly, exhausted by his cruel domination. Noting how the others despise Carol, Val agrees to leave with her and accompanies her to a nearby "juke joint." There, however, Carol's brother David is drinking, and when the proprietor tries to throw Carol out for past indiscretions, she lewdly flirts with the men until David slaps her. Val ushers her out, and in the car asks her why she is so out of control. She answers that she is an exhibitionist who needs to be "noticed and seen and heard and felt." Carol takes Val to a cemetery, but when she tries to perform oral sex, he pushes her away and insists she drop him at the store. Inside, he overhears Lady on the phone demanding sleeping pills from the druggist and then whispering that she wishes she were dead. Val introduces himself and explains that he left with Carol in order to help her, but returned after realizing that she considered him a "stud" for hire. Equally drawn to and suspicious of Val's good looks and charm, Lady is intrigued by his description of people as either buyer, those who are bought, or those who belong nowhere, whom he likens to a legless bird that must spend its whole life in the air. Warming to him, Lady shows him the back lot that she plans to transform into a confectionary. When they are interrupted by Jabe, pounding his cane to summon her, Lady offers Val the job, warning that he holds no interest for her. Two weeks later, Lady is annoyed by the women who frequent the store, hoping for Val's attentions. After Jabe treats Lady with customary contempt, she lashes out at Val, to whom she is attracted. Soon after, Carol causes a commotion in the gas station next door, and when the owner slaps her, Val drags her away, bleeding. She informs him that she rushed back to town from New Orleans that morning to find him, and when Lady refuses to allow her into the store, Carol takes Val in the back and tells him she loves him. She warns him that the town will destroy him, but he calls her a little bird and tells her to fly away. David has been summoned to collect Carol, and when he enters the store looking for her, Lady confronts him, revealing that their affair years earlier led to a pregnancy. After he left her and she lost the baby, she continues, she "sold" herself to Jabe. David tries to apologize for leaving her, but she screams and he leaves with Carol. Later, Vee and Jordan arrive, and Vee is mesmerized by Val's description of the creative process, which he says the two share. Spurred on by Jordan, Jabe demands that Val come upstairs, and there sadistically derides Val and Lady, whom he suspects of having an affair. Lady asks Val to accompany her to the site of her father's wine garden, which was burned down years ago after her father sold liquor to blacks. She explains tearfully that when her father tried to extinguish the fire, he was burned alive. They are interrupted by Jordan, who has come to check up on them. Back at the store, Lady offers to let Val sleep in the back room. Later that night, he steals money from the till and drinks, carouses and gambles until he has doubled the cache. He then returns to the store to inform Lady he is leaving, and when she tells him she is disappointed in him, he drags her into the back room, slaps her and reveals he knows she set up the room just for him, hoping to seduce him. Although he assumes she is interested only in having sex with him, Lady has fallen in love with Val, and when he realizes her sincerity, he takes her to bed. Over the next weeks their love deepens as they build the confectionary together, decorating the lovely structure with tinsel, bells and lights. On opening night, Lady has planned a gala celebration, which is marred by the appearance of Jabe. Upon seeing her creation for the first time, he explodes in disgust and declares that he helped burn down her father's wine garden. Upon mounting the stairs, Jabe suffers a hemorrhage and falls. Later, Val sees Vee staggering in the street, but when he tries to help her, Jordan corners him and warns him to leave town by morning. Soon after, Carol approaches Lady in the store and, within Val's hearing, announces that David has offered to support her financially as long as she leaves the state. She invites Val to come with her, and although he refuses, he tells Lady he must leave, and she assumes he plans to join Carol. He asks her to accompany him, but Lady, bent on revenge, insists that she must open the confectionary because she "will not be defeated again." When she grabs Val's guitar to force him to stay, he slaps her, but then they embrace. Jabe's nurse spots them and tells Lady with disgust that she can tell she is pregnant, and Lady dances with joy. Upstairs, however, Jabe sets the confectionary roof on fire and calls the sheriff to place the blame on Val. When Lady goes after Jabe, he shoots her. As she dies, Jordan leads his men in leveling the water gushing from the fire hoses against Val, until they drive him backward into the burning confectionary. The next morning, Carol surveys the wreckage, cradling Val's snakeskin jacket. "Wild things leave their skins behind them so the fugitive kind can follow their kind," she says, before driving away.

Videos

Movie Clip

Fugitive Kind, The (1960) - I Think They Got Him Having schmoozed himself and his guitar out of court in a Mississippi town, Valentine “Snakeskin” Xavier seeks shelter at what turns out to be the home of the local sheriff, where his wife Vee (Maureen Stapleton, a close Brando friend) tells him about a breakout, early in The Fugitive Kind, 1960.
Fugitive Kind, The (1960) - You Afraid I'll Snitch? Joanne Woodward as wayward heiress Carol Cutrere blows into a tiny Mississippi downtown (in a new-ish Jaguar XK), having recognized Marlon Brando as drifter “Snakeskin”, Maureen Stapleton as his new friend Vee, helping him land a job in the general store, Emory Richardson as the odd “Uncle Blessing,”in The Fugitive Kind, 1960, from Tennessee Williams’ play, directed by Sidney Lumet.
Fugitive Kind, The (1960) - You're Also Known As Snakeskin? Marlon Brando is largely alone, in the opening before the credits, Sidney Lumet directing, the screenplay by Tennessee Williams (from his poorly reviewed play Orpheus Descending) with Meade Roberts, from The Fugitive Kind, 1960, also starring Anna Magnani, Geraldine Page and Joanne Woodward.
Fugitive Kind, The (1960) - She Made A Mistake About Me After an evening with unglued local heiress Carol, Marlon Brando as drifter-musician “Snakeskin” Xavier introduces himself to Anna Magnani (who got top billing in the Italian release) as “Lady” Torrance, wife of the ailing owner of the general store, looking for work, at least, in The Fugitive Kind, 1960, directed by Sidney Lumet from a Tennessee Williams play.

Film Details

Also Known As
Orpheus Descending, Tennessee Williams' The Fugitive Kind
Genre
Drama
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
May 1960
Premiere Information
New York opening: 14 Apr 1960
Production Company
Jurow-Shepherd-Pennebaker Productions
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Bronx, New York, United States; Milton, New York, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Orpheus Descending by Tennessee Williams, as presented on Broadway by Robert Whitehead for Producers Theatre, Inc. (New York, 21 Mar 1957).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 15m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Articles

The Fugitive Kind


Marlon Brando got the opportunity to play a role written for him by one of America's greatest playwrights and lived to regret it. He even took the film against his better judgment. Although The Fugitive Kind (1959) provides a fascinating footnote in Williams' career, the character of drifter Val Xavier, who ignites the passions of three women in a corrupt Mississippi town, marked the beginning of a long box-office decline for Brando.

The Fugitive Kind marked the third incarnation of Williams' fascinating mix of Greek mythology, Christianity and Freudian psychology. He had started working on the play under the title Something Wild in the Country in the '30s, hoping to interest stage star and fellow Southerner Tallulah Bankhead in the role of a woman trapped in a loveless marriage who has an affair with a magnetic young drifter. Though she thought the as yet untested playwright showed talent, she also felt the strange mixture of religion and sex wouldn't work for audiences of the era. She was proven right when the Theatre Guild produced the work, now titled Battle of Angels in a Boston tryout in 1940, with Miriam Hopkins starring. Although legend has ruled that production an unmitigated disaster, it actually got respectable reviews, particularly from more serious critics like Alexander Woollcott and Elliot Norton. But the production's size, numerous audience walkouts and an unwieldy climactic fire that at one performance got out of control, forcing the remaining patrons to evacuate the theatre, convinced the Guild to close the show out of town.

Williams never gave up on what he would call his most personal play. After establishing himself as a major playwright with such hits as The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire, he re-wrote Battle of Angeles as Orpheus Descending. He had hoped to team Marlon Brando and Anna Magnani in the stage production, even turning the leading lady into an Italian immigrant. But Magnani refused to commit to anything longer than a two month run, and Brando decided he wanted to focus entirely on screen work. In addition, he was far from pleased with the script and thought the leading lady's role had much more weight than his. The play opened in March 1957 with Maureen Stapleton and Cliff Robertson in the leads. Thanks largely to negative reviews, it closed in less than two months, becoming the author's first major flop with both critics and audiences.

Still, even an artistic failure by Tennessee Williams was thought to have box office potential in Hollywood. With adaptations of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) and Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) in preparation at other studios, independent producers Martin Jurow and Richard A. Shepherd optioned the play and even got Williams to co-write the screenplay with young playwright Meade Roberts. They secured promising young director Sidney Lumet, fresh from a string of impressive television dramas and the acclaimed 12 Angry Men (1957), to direct. More important to Williams, however, was their willingness to offer the leads to Magnani and Brando.

Brando was still not thrilled with the material, but he had other problems that made the offer more attractive. He had just finished directing his first film, the Western One-Eyed Jacks (1961), and his slow pace had put his production company, Pennabaker Films, seriously into the red. At the same time, his father's attempts to invest the star's earnings in a ranch had cost him over $1 million, and he was going through a costly divorce from actress Anna Kashfi. When the producers dangled a $1 million pay check, the largest sum ever paid an actor for a single role, and agreed to release The Fugitive Kind through United Artists as a Pennabaker production, it was an offer he couldn't refuse.

Magnani also signed on, and Joanne Woodward was so taken with the role of a hard-drinking female rebel she told the producers she'd do anything to keep another actress from playing it. Since this was the second Williams role Stapleton had lost to Anna Magnani, nobody considered offering her one of the film's many supporting roles. When she heard they wanted to use her but were afraid to call, Stapleton called the producers herself and said she'd be glad to play the smaller role of the sheriff's wife, an artistic visionary who goes blind after meeting Brando's character but finds her calling as a painter nonetheless.

Over the years, Lumet has done his best work with portraits of men in crisis, from the unnamed juror in 12 Angry Men to the cop-informant in Serpico (1973) and, most recently, the morally bankrupt businessman in Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007). That should have made him the ideal director to strengthen the role of Val in The Fugitive Kind, but during rehearsals he couldn't come up with any ideas that fit the playwright's vision. Williams' gift for creating compelling female characters was so strong that as soon as Val met Lady Torrance (Magnani), the film became about her.

Compounding the script problems were Lumet's difficulties finding a common ground with his leading lady. Lumet usually insisted on two weeks of rehearsal before filming, but Magnani was used to working in real locations in her native Italy; the rehearsal hall -- where folding chairs stood in for walls, doors and anything else required by the script -- was a foreign land to the actress. She had so much trouble he had to abandon his usual practice of running the script entirely during the last few days of rehearsals.

Magnani also had problems with Brando. Early on, Williams had warned the actor that his leading lady had a crush on him. From their first meeting, she insisted that they needed to get together in private to discuss the film. He finally agreed to meet with her, at which point she put the moves on him. When she refused to stop kissing him, even biting his lip painfully to keep him close, he had to squeeze her nose to make her let go. When filming started, the two clashed frequently over everything from dressing rooms to billing (he got top billing in the U.S.; she got it in Italy) and interpretation. He also started mumbling during shooting and rehearsals, which made it very hard for an actress who barely spoke English to pick up her cues. It made it hard on the other actors as well, and Stapleton, who had known Brando since his early days in the theatre, finally took him aside to ask him to speak up.

Rather than face the temperatures in Mississippi or risk getting caught up in the then-exploding racial tensions in the South, Lumet shot The Fugitive Kind on location in Milton, New York, with studio work in the Gold Key Studios in Brooklyn. This also allowed him to stay closer to his beloved New York City, while making it possible to fill the supporting cast with stage actors like John Baragrey, Virgilia Chew, Sally Gracie and Lucille Benson.

When The Fugitive Kind opened in 1960 it was a box-office disaster. Although Lumet and Woodward were honored for their work at the San Sebastian Film Festival, most U.S. critics felt the movie was a misguided effort, comparing it unfavorably to earlier screen adaptations of Williams' plays. Variety labeled it "Exploitable but still a questionable box office entry," while the New Republic's Stanley Kauffman wondered, "Is there a future for Tennessee Williams? Or is there nothing ahead of him but the past?" That was nothing compared to the conservative Films in Review, which labeled the film "a disgrace to US culture...nothing but the malevolence of a spiteful and undisciplined child shrieking lies about its elders." More recent critics have reevaluated the film in light of Lumet's career and pointed out the solid work of cinematographer Boris Kaufman, a frequent collaborator during the director's early years, and composer Kenyon Hopkins.

At the time, however, The Fugitive Kind was written off as a disaster, with only Stapleton generating consistently good reviews. With the failure of One-Eyed Jacks and his time-consuming behavior on 1962's Mutiny on the Bounty, Brando's career went into a slump that lasted until his comeback as Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather (1972). The Fugitive Kind and One-Eyed Jacks also forced him to turn down the film that might have prevented that slide, Lawrence of Arabia (1962). The Fugitive Kind also cooled his friendship with Williams. Each accused the other of being fixated on Stanley Kowalski, Brando's star-making role in the playwright's A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). Brando claimed the playwright had wanted the same performance in their second collaboration, while Williams accused Brando of mumbling his way through the film in an attempt to play the more poetic Val Xavier like his earlier, more animalistic role.

Yet Orpheus Descending would live on. In 1988, Vanessa Redgrave starred in a successful London revival of the play. A year later she took the production to New York to further acclaim, and in 1990 she filmed it for Turner Network Television with a cast combining members of both earlier productions, including Kevin Anderson as Val, Anne Twomey in Woodward's role and Miriam Margolyes as the sheriff's wife. For the first time, Orpheus Descending was a hit, and the productions' success led to a critical reevaluation of the work.

Producer: Martin Jurow, Richard Shepherd
Director: Sidney Lumet
Screenplay: Meade Roberts, Tennessee Williams
Based on Williams' play Orpheus Descending
Cinematography: Boris Kaufman
Art Direction: Richard Sylbert
Music: Kenyon Hopkins
Cast: Marlon Brando (Val Xavier), Anna Magnani (Lady Torrance), Joanne Woodward (Carol Cutrere), Maureen Stapleton (Vee Talbot), Victor Jory (Jabe Torrance), R.G. Armstrong (Sheriff Talbot), Sally Gracie (Dolly Hamma), Lucille Benson (Beulah Binnings).
BW-121m.

by Frank Miller

The Fugitive Kind

The Fugitive Kind

Marlon Brando got the opportunity to play a role written for him by one of America's greatest playwrights and lived to regret it. He even took the film against his better judgment. Although The Fugitive Kind (1959) provides a fascinating footnote in Williams' career, the character of drifter Val Xavier, who ignites the passions of three women in a corrupt Mississippi town, marked the beginning of a long box-office decline for Brando. The Fugitive Kind marked the third incarnation of Williams' fascinating mix of Greek mythology, Christianity and Freudian psychology. He had started working on the play under the title Something Wild in the Country in the '30s, hoping to interest stage star and fellow Southerner Tallulah Bankhead in the role of a woman trapped in a loveless marriage who has an affair with a magnetic young drifter. Though she thought the as yet untested playwright showed talent, she also felt the strange mixture of religion and sex wouldn't work for audiences of the era. She was proven right when the Theatre Guild produced the work, now titled Battle of Angels in a Boston tryout in 1940, with Miriam Hopkins starring. Although legend has ruled that production an unmitigated disaster, it actually got respectable reviews, particularly from more serious critics like Alexander Woollcott and Elliot Norton. But the production's size, numerous audience walkouts and an unwieldy climactic fire that at one performance got out of control, forcing the remaining patrons to evacuate the theatre, convinced the Guild to close the show out of town. Williams never gave up on what he would call his most personal play. After establishing himself as a major playwright with such hits as The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire, he re-wrote Battle of Angeles as Orpheus Descending. He had hoped to team Marlon Brando and Anna Magnani in the stage production, even turning the leading lady into an Italian immigrant. But Magnani refused to commit to anything longer than a two month run, and Brando decided he wanted to focus entirely on screen work. In addition, he was far from pleased with the script and thought the leading lady's role had much more weight than his. The play opened in March 1957 with Maureen Stapleton and Cliff Robertson in the leads. Thanks largely to negative reviews, it closed in less than two months, becoming the author's first major flop with both critics and audiences. Still, even an artistic failure by Tennessee Williams was thought to have box office potential in Hollywood. With adaptations of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) and Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) in preparation at other studios, independent producers Martin Jurow and Richard A. Shepherd optioned the play and even got Williams to co-write the screenplay with young playwright Meade Roberts. They secured promising young director Sidney Lumet, fresh from a string of impressive television dramas and the acclaimed 12 Angry Men (1957), to direct. More important to Williams, however, was their willingness to offer the leads to Magnani and Brando. Brando was still not thrilled with the material, but he had other problems that made the offer more attractive. He had just finished directing his first film, the Western One-Eyed Jacks (1961), and his slow pace had put his production company, Pennabaker Films, seriously into the red. At the same time, his father's attempts to invest the star's earnings in a ranch had cost him over $1 million, and he was going through a costly divorce from actress Anna Kashfi. When the producers dangled a $1 million pay check, the largest sum ever paid an actor for a single role, and agreed to release The Fugitive Kind through United Artists as a Pennabaker production, it was an offer he couldn't refuse. Magnani also signed on, and Joanne Woodward was so taken with the role of a hard-drinking female rebel she told the producers she'd do anything to keep another actress from playing it. Since this was the second Williams role Stapleton had lost to Anna Magnani, nobody considered offering her one of the film's many supporting roles. When she heard they wanted to use her but were afraid to call, Stapleton called the producers herself and said she'd be glad to play the smaller role of the sheriff's wife, an artistic visionary who goes blind after meeting Brando's character but finds her calling as a painter nonetheless. Over the years, Lumet has done his best work with portraits of men in crisis, from the unnamed juror in 12 Angry Men to the cop-informant in Serpico (1973) and, most recently, the morally bankrupt businessman in Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007). That should have made him the ideal director to strengthen the role of Val in The Fugitive Kind, but during rehearsals he couldn't come up with any ideas that fit the playwright's vision. Williams' gift for creating compelling female characters was so strong that as soon as Val met Lady Torrance (Magnani), the film became about her. Compounding the script problems were Lumet's difficulties finding a common ground with his leading lady. Lumet usually insisted on two weeks of rehearsal before filming, but Magnani was used to working in real locations in her native Italy; the rehearsal hall -- where folding chairs stood in for walls, doors and anything else required by the script -- was a foreign land to the actress. She had so much trouble he had to abandon his usual practice of running the script entirely during the last few days of rehearsals. Magnani also had problems with Brando. Early on, Williams had warned the actor that his leading lady had a crush on him. From their first meeting, she insisted that they needed to get together in private to discuss the film. He finally agreed to meet with her, at which point she put the moves on him. When she refused to stop kissing him, even biting his lip painfully to keep him close, he had to squeeze her nose to make her let go. When filming started, the two clashed frequently over everything from dressing rooms to billing (he got top billing in the U.S.; she got it in Italy) and interpretation. He also started mumbling during shooting and rehearsals, which made it very hard for an actress who barely spoke English to pick up her cues. It made it hard on the other actors as well, and Stapleton, who had known Brando since his early days in the theatre, finally took him aside to ask him to speak up. Rather than face the temperatures in Mississippi or risk getting caught up in the then-exploding racial tensions in the South, Lumet shot The Fugitive Kind on location in Milton, New York, with studio work in the Gold Key Studios in Brooklyn. This also allowed him to stay closer to his beloved New York City, while making it possible to fill the supporting cast with stage actors like John Baragrey, Virgilia Chew, Sally Gracie and Lucille Benson. When The Fugitive Kind opened in 1960 it was a box-office disaster. Although Lumet and Woodward were honored for their work at the San Sebastian Film Festival, most U.S. critics felt the movie was a misguided effort, comparing it unfavorably to earlier screen adaptations of Williams' plays. Variety labeled it "Exploitable but still a questionable box office entry," while the New Republic's Stanley Kauffman wondered, "Is there a future for Tennessee Williams? Or is there nothing ahead of him but the past?" That was nothing compared to the conservative Films in Review, which labeled the film "a disgrace to US culture...nothing but the malevolence of a spiteful and undisciplined child shrieking lies about its elders." More recent critics have reevaluated the film in light of Lumet's career and pointed out the solid work of cinematographer Boris Kaufman, a frequent collaborator during the director's early years, and composer Kenyon Hopkins. At the time, however, The Fugitive Kind was written off as a disaster, with only Stapleton generating consistently good reviews. With the failure of One-Eyed Jacks and his time-consuming behavior on 1962's Mutiny on the Bounty, Brando's career went into a slump that lasted until his comeback as Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather (1972). The Fugitive Kind and One-Eyed Jacks also forced him to turn down the film that might have prevented that slide, Lawrence of Arabia (1962). The Fugitive Kind also cooled his friendship with Williams. Each accused the other of being fixated on Stanley Kowalski, Brando's star-making role in the playwright's A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). Brando claimed the playwright had wanted the same performance in their second collaboration, while Williams accused Brando of mumbling his way through the film in an attempt to play the more poetic Val Xavier like his earlier, more animalistic role. Yet Orpheus Descending would live on. In 1988, Vanessa Redgrave starred in a successful London revival of the play. A year later she took the production to New York to further acclaim, and in 1990 she filmed it for Turner Network Television with a cast combining members of both earlier productions, including Kevin Anderson as Val, Anne Twomey in Woodward's role and Miriam Margolyes as the sheriff's wife. For the first time, Orpheus Descending was a hit, and the productions' success led to a critical reevaluation of the work. Producer: Martin Jurow, Richard Shepherd Director: Sidney Lumet Screenplay: Meade Roberts, Tennessee Williams Based on Williams' play Orpheus Descending Cinematography: Boris Kaufman Art Direction: Richard Sylbert Music: Kenyon Hopkins Cast: Marlon Brando (Val Xavier), Anna Magnani (Lady Torrance), Joanne Woodward (Carol Cutrere), Maureen Stapleton (Vee Talbot), Victor Jory (Jabe Torrance), R.G. Armstrong (Sheriff Talbot), Sally Gracie (Dolly Hamma), Lucille Benson (Beulah Binnings). BW-121m. by Frank Miller

The Fugitive Kind (Criterion Edition) - Marlon Brando in Sidney Lumet's THE FUGITIVE KIND on DVD from The Criterion Collection


Tennessee Williams' plays made history on Broadway but his cinematic reputation was established early on with Elia Kazan's film version of A Streetcar Named Desire. 1959's The Fugitive Kind is adapted from Orpheus Descending, which is not one of the author's best works. But the talent involved couldn't be more ideal. On only his fourth film, former stage actor and director Sidney Lumet was a hot property for his claustrophobic Twelve Angry Men, a film set almost entirely in one jury room. Carried over from the Broadway cast of Orpheus are actors R.G Armstrong and Maureen Stapleton, who had played the lead role on stage. Tennessee Williams was so impressed by the remarkable Italian Anna Magnani, he had already written an entire play just for her. Marlon Brando was of course considered the ideal Williams leading man. Beyond his status as a hot star commodity and his prowess as a male sex symbol, Brando was one of the few candidates who could put across Williams' crowded thematic agenda.

Although the stage play had failed in two attempts spread over twenty years, The Fugitive Kind works rather well as a film. Sidney Lumet's realistic approach softens some of Williams' classical allusions and mythological overtones. Marlon Brando is the melancholy, rootless musician Valentine Xavier (read: "Lover - Savior"). Val describes himself through a fable about a strange bird with no feet that must live and sleep on the wind without ever touching the ground.   1  Banished from New Orleans by a judge, Val lands in a tiny Mississippi town seemingly founded on greed and racism. Vee (Maureen Stapleton), the addled and skittish wife of Sheriff Talbott (R.G. Armstrong), takes Val in out of a storm and lets him sleep in a jail cell. The sheriff is in a good mood, as he has just shot dead an escaping prisoner.

Val gets a job clerking in a general store and is soon involved with two more women. Lady (Anna Magnani) runs the store but hates her life, as her husband Jabe Torrance (Victor Jory) is a domineering tyrant confined to his sickbed. Free to run the store as she sees fit, Lady sees Val as a good partner in her plan to open an Italian-themed wine garden behind the store. Also loitering around the attractive Val is Carol Cutrere, a local scandal from a privileged family. Carol tries to seduce Val, who advises her not to run so wild. Lady and Carol don't get along, because Carol's rich brother David (John Baragrey) threw Lady over years ago in favor of a more socially advantageous marriage. Things heat up as Torrance becomes aware that his wife and Val are having an affair. Both he and Sheriff Talbott hate everything Val Xavier stands for.

A series of dark character collisions that can only lead to tragedy, The Fugitive Kind is organized around poetic harmonies. Val Xavier's leather jacket has earned him the name Snakeskin, and his undisclosed crime back in New Orleans has something to do with wild "parties" that sickened even him. Val tells Vee that, "you're not young at thirty if you've been on a party since you were fifteen". He's aware of his effect on women and assures Lady that he "can burn a woman down". In Tennessee Williams terms, Val is of course a symbol of life that the corrupt world must crush.

Personal freedom is the issue with the women in Val's life as well. Italian immigrant Lady is trying desperately to recover the happiness she lost years ago. Because Lady's father sold liquor to blacks, local racists torched his house, orchard and wine garden. The old man died in the fire. After being jilted by David Cutrere, Lady submitted to a soul-crushing marriage to the horrible Jabe Torrance. The highly sensual Anna Magnani is an even more arresting screen presence than Marlon Brando.

Wearing a ratty dress and driving a dirty sports car, Carol Cutrere is perpetually drunk and in trouble. She makes a lewd spectacle of herself in a diner, and later receives a bloody nose in an altercation with a gas station owner. Carol's rich relatives consider her an embarrassment and pay her to stay away from home. We learn that Carol's antisocial behavior began after an attempt at civil rights activism. One of her companions now is Uncle Pleasant (Emory Richardson) a speechless vagrant "Conjure Man". In an unusual role, Joanne Woodward seems genuinely uninhibited and out of control as the reckless Carol.

Sidney Lumet maintains a reasonably naturalistic look for The Fugitive Kind, but for certain dramatic highlights cameraman Boris Kaufman employs more stylized lighting and framing. Val enters town in a rainstorm and takes a midnight trip with Carol to a spooky cemetery. Circus music from a calliope gives the final act a dreamlike tone, enhancing Lady's enchantment with her new wine garden. The vineyard decorations trigger Lady's memory of better times. Draping herself with tinsel, Lady compares herself to a barren fig tree from her youth. When the tree finally bore fruit, she decorated it in celebration. Aided by the film's visuals, the characters "become" the symbols playwright Williams lays out for them.

Other more earthy dramatic moments are handled without embellishment, as when Val accuses Lady of trying to set him up as a live-in gigolo, and when Lady protests that Val is leaving to run away with Carol. Accounts of the filming vary as to how well the stars did or didn't get along with each other, but the on-screen fireworks are as good as anything either actor has done. Brando negotiated the first million-dollar actor's salary for The Fugitive Kind. He hadn't yet become bored with acting, and is definitely engaged with the role.

The conclusion is somewhat abrupt. The hatred mounting against Val and Lady explodes in a blur of fire, water and gunshots, closing the show with a rather unoriginal conflagration. Much more notably disturbing is a brief scene in which Vee Talbott staggers down Main Street in a panic because she's suddenly been struck blind. Only viewers familiar with the play Orpheus Descending will know what has happened, but the movie's lack of a direct explanation makes The Fugitive Kind seem even more unbalanced.

Criterion's DVD of The Fugitive Kind easily bests MGM's old Region 1 release, which had been mastered full screen. The enhanced 1:66 compositions properly frame the actors and display the lighting better; tilted shots no longer look like a mistake.

The extras are presented on a second disc. Sidney Lumet offers his memories of the shoot in a new video piece, while a second video hosted by authors Robert Bray and R. Barton Palmer examines Tennessee Williams' work in Hollywood and his attitude toward the movies. After Elia Kazan's film ofA Streetcar Named Desire vastly increased the playwright's audience, Williams later became critical of Kazan, and named Sidney Lumet as his preferred director.

A Television show from 1958, Three Plays by Tennesee Williams appears as a B&W Kinescope. The three one-acts lead off with a domestic scene between Lee Grant and Ben Gazarra; Williams introduces the show by telling the audience that the plays were written long ago, when his name was simply Tom Williams. David Thomson contributes an essay for the insert booklet. Criterion's disc producer is Abbey Lustgarten.

1. Calling Marianne Faithful: her classic song This Little Bird is this exact same fable, right down to a description of the bird's transparent wings.

For more information about The Fugitive Kind, visit The Criterion Collection. To order The Fugitive Kind, go to TCM Shopping.

by Glenn Erickson

The Fugitive Kind (Criterion Edition) - Marlon Brando in Sidney Lumet's THE FUGITIVE KIND on DVD from The Criterion Collection

Tennessee Williams' plays made history on Broadway but his cinematic reputation was established early on with Elia Kazan's film version of A Streetcar Named Desire. 1959's The Fugitive Kind is adapted from Orpheus Descending, which is not one of the author's best works. But the talent involved couldn't be more ideal. On only his fourth film, former stage actor and director Sidney Lumet was a hot property for his claustrophobic Twelve Angry Men, a film set almost entirely in one jury room. Carried over from the Broadway cast of Orpheus are actors R.G Armstrong and Maureen Stapleton, who had played the lead role on stage. Tennessee Williams was so impressed by the remarkable Italian Anna Magnani, he had already written an entire play just for her. Marlon Brando was of course considered the ideal Williams leading man. Beyond his status as a hot star commodity and his prowess as a male sex symbol, Brando was one of the few candidates who could put across Williams' crowded thematic agenda. Although the stage play had failed in two attempts spread over twenty years, The Fugitive Kind works rather well as a film. Sidney Lumet's realistic approach softens some of Williams' classical allusions and mythological overtones. Marlon Brando is the melancholy, rootless musician Valentine Xavier (read: "Lover - Savior"). Val describes himself through a fable about a strange bird with no feet that must live and sleep on the wind without ever touching the ground.   1  Banished from New Orleans by a judge, Val lands in a tiny Mississippi town seemingly founded on greed and racism. Vee (Maureen Stapleton), the addled and skittish wife of Sheriff Talbott (R.G. Armstrong), takes Val in out of a storm and lets him sleep in a jail cell. The sheriff is in a good mood, as he has just shot dead an escaping prisoner. Val gets a job clerking in a general store and is soon involved with two more women. Lady (Anna Magnani) runs the store but hates her life, as her husband Jabe Torrance (Victor Jory) is a domineering tyrant confined to his sickbed. Free to run the store as she sees fit, Lady sees Val as a good partner in her plan to open an Italian-themed wine garden behind the store. Also loitering around the attractive Val is Carol Cutrere, a local scandal from a privileged family. Carol tries to seduce Val, who advises her not to run so wild. Lady and Carol don't get along, because Carol's rich brother David (John Baragrey) threw Lady over years ago in favor of a more socially advantageous marriage. Things heat up as Torrance becomes aware that his wife and Val are having an affair. Both he and Sheriff Talbott hate everything Val Xavier stands for. A series of dark character collisions that can only lead to tragedy, The Fugitive Kind is organized around poetic harmonies. Val Xavier's leather jacket has earned him the name Snakeskin, and his undisclosed crime back in New Orleans has something to do with wild "parties" that sickened even him. Val tells Vee that, "you're not young at thirty if you've been on a party since you were fifteen". He's aware of his effect on women and assures Lady that he "can burn a woman down". In Tennessee Williams terms, Val is of course a symbol of life that the corrupt world must crush. Personal freedom is the issue with the women in Val's life as well. Italian immigrant Lady is trying desperately to recover the happiness she lost years ago. Because Lady's father sold liquor to blacks, local racists torched his house, orchard and wine garden. The old man died in the fire. After being jilted by David Cutrere, Lady submitted to a soul-crushing marriage to the horrible Jabe Torrance. The highly sensual Anna Magnani is an even more arresting screen presence than Marlon Brando. Wearing a ratty dress and driving a dirty sports car, Carol Cutrere is perpetually drunk and in trouble. She makes a lewd spectacle of herself in a diner, and later receives a bloody nose in an altercation with a gas station owner. Carol's rich relatives consider her an embarrassment and pay her to stay away from home. We learn that Carol's antisocial behavior began after an attempt at civil rights activism. One of her companions now is Uncle Pleasant (Emory Richardson) a speechless vagrant "Conjure Man". In an unusual role, Joanne Woodward seems genuinely uninhibited and out of control as the reckless Carol. Sidney Lumet maintains a reasonably naturalistic look for The Fugitive Kind, but for certain dramatic highlights cameraman Boris Kaufman employs more stylized lighting and framing. Val enters town in a rainstorm and takes a midnight trip with Carol to a spooky cemetery. Circus music from a calliope gives the final act a dreamlike tone, enhancing Lady's enchantment with her new wine garden. The vineyard decorations trigger Lady's memory of better times. Draping herself with tinsel, Lady compares herself to a barren fig tree from her youth. When the tree finally bore fruit, she decorated it in celebration. Aided by the film's visuals, the characters "become" the symbols playwright Williams lays out for them. Other more earthy dramatic moments are handled without embellishment, as when Val accuses Lady of trying to set him up as a live-in gigolo, and when Lady protests that Val is leaving to run away with Carol. Accounts of the filming vary as to how well the stars did or didn't get along with each other, but the on-screen fireworks are as good as anything either actor has done. Brando negotiated the first million-dollar actor's salary for The Fugitive Kind. He hadn't yet become bored with acting, and is definitely engaged with the role. The conclusion is somewhat abrupt. The hatred mounting against Val and Lady explodes in a blur of fire, water and gunshots, closing the show with a rather unoriginal conflagration. Much more notably disturbing is a brief scene in which Vee Talbott staggers down Main Street in a panic because she's suddenly been struck blind. Only viewers familiar with the play Orpheus Descending will know what has happened, but the movie's lack of a direct explanation makes The Fugitive Kind seem even more unbalanced. Criterion's DVD of The Fugitive Kind easily bests MGM's old Region 1 release, which had been mastered full screen. The enhanced 1:66 compositions properly frame the actors and display the lighting better; tilted shots no longer look like a mistake. The extras are presented on a second disc. Sidney Lumet offers his memories of the shoot in a new video piece, while a second video hosted by authors Robert Bray and R. Barton Palmer examines Tennessee Williams' work in Hollywood and his attitude toward the movies. After Elia Kazan's film ofA Streetcar Named Desire vastly increased the playwright's audience, Williams later became critical of Kazan, and named Sidney Lumet as his preferred director. A Television show from 1958, Three Plays by Tennesee Williams appears as a B&W Kinescope. The three one-acts lead off with a domestic scene between Lee Grant and Ben Gazarra; Williams introduces the show by telling the audience that the plays were written long ago, when his name was simply Tom Williams. David Thomson contributes an essay for the insert booklet. Criterion's disc producer is Abbey Lustgarten. 1. Calling Marianne Faithful: her classic song This Little Bird is this exact same fable, right down to a description of the bird's transparent wings. For more information about The Fugitive Kind, visit The Criterion Collection. To order The Fugitive Kind, go to TCM Shopping. by Glenn Erickson

Tennessee Williams' The Fugitive Kind on DVD


When we think of Marlon Brando's signature performances, we immediately conjure up images of the late actor as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire or Vito Corleone in The Godfather. If Valentine "Snakeskin" Xavier, his character in Sidney Lumet's oddly overlooked 1959 drama The Fugitive Kind, doesn't quite deserve a place in this Brando pantheon, he certainly merits a slot just beneath them.

Why is The Fugitive Kind relatively obscure and less appreciated than it should be? Like Streetcar, it's also based on a Tennessee Williams play, but unlike that star-making Broadway production, it was never a stage hit in its day, flopping in both 1940 (in an early incarnation as Battle of Angels, with Miriam Hopkins) and, after years of rewrites, as Orpheus Descending in 1957. The movie adaptation similarly made little impact, borne out by the fact that it didn't nab a single Academy Award nomination, despite a screenplay co-written by Williams and a cast that also includes Anna Magnani (who'd already won an Oscar® for her role in the film of Williams' The Rose Tattoo), Joanne Woodward and Maureen Stapleton (who'd played the Magnani role onstage).

Of course, it's no surprise when a brooding movie like The Fugitive Kind, full of forlorn characters, flops. It often says little about the movie, and more about marketing and Hollywood's shaping of public tastes. Over the years, The Fugitive Kind has been a semi-regular at revival houses and had a Broadway revival in the late 1980s, yet it still is far down on the list of the best-known Williams film adaptations. But The Fugitive Kind offers the same overheated, symbol-laden, heightened reality of the better-known Baby Doll, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or Night of the Iguana.

Brando's Val is the charismatic and tragic Orpheus descending of the play's title, a New Orleans "entertainer" who, fittingly, starts the movie in a jail lock-up, after starting a disturbance at a party that police raided. In a very striking opening in which Lumet keeps the camera on Brando, Val tells the unseen judge, in near-monologue, how he suddenly became disgusted with his life of carousing. The judge tells him to get out of the city, and Val gladly complies. His old car dies in a small Mississippi town, though, and he catches a break when the local sheriff's wife (Stapleton) puts in a word for him at the town's general store, run by Lady Torrance (Magnani). Val is anxious to turn over a new leaf and take a clerk's job there, but he's rightly cautious of the situation into which he's stepped: embittered Lady is locked in a loveless marriage with ornery Jabe (Victor Jory), who's bedridden in the living quarters above the store, while the sheriff (R.G. Armstrong) eyes Val like he's fitting him for a noose and rich, wild child Carol Cutrere (Woodward), who knows Val from his entertaining days, keeps trying to seduce him back into the lifestyle he's trying to escape.

It's the air of intolerance and suspicion that makes The Fugitive Kind so rich. It's not just the mentions of racism, like the defining moment of Lady's life being when a mob burned down her immigrant father's wine garden and killed him for selling liquor to blacks. It's also the frightened look in the sheriff's wife's eyes, the beaten-down slump in Lady's posture and the drunken party Carol tries to forever sustain to forget the injustice around her. It's in the way Val knows to keep looking over his shoulder to watch for those who won't just let him quietly live, too. "We're all of us sentenced to solitary confinement in our own lonely skins," Val says sadly, in one of the movie's many quotable lines. Of course, many of them would sound silly out of context, but that's Williams for you.

As a romance blooms between Val and Lady, whose outlook on life brightens as a consequence (with Magnani giving a typically earthy performance), their happiness heads for a collision course with the forces around them—specifically her suspicious husband and the husband's buddy, the sheriff. No one gets out alive, figuratively speaking, when the sheriff tells Val to get out of town on the same day Lady plans to open a wine garden as a tribute to her father and a shot at Jabe, who still tries to maintain control of the store. Just as mythology's Orpheus ran into trouble while trying to save his love, Val's efforts to rescue Lady from her plight result in disaster on the climactic day. Unlike Streetcar and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, the ending of The Fugitive Kind was not watered down from its stage version. It's a potent, almost eerie resolution.

Unfortunately, Sony's DVD of The Fugitive Kind contains just the movie, so it's hardly likely to bring many people unfamiliar with the movie to it. That's a shame, especially considering Warner Home Video has a six-movie, bonus-filled Tennessee Williams boxed set scheduled for May release. Like the sad, lonely people it salutes, The Fugitive Kind is likely to be overshadowed yet more, and still search for respect.

For more information about The Fugitive Kind, visit Sony Pictures. To order The Fugitive Kind, go to TCM Shopping.

by Paul Sherman

Tennessee Williams' The Fugitive Kind on DVD

When we think of Marlon Brando's signature performances, we immediately conjure up images of the late actor as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire or Vito Corleone in The Godfather. If Valentine "Snakeskin" Xavier, his character in Sidney Lumet's oddly overlooked 1959 drama The Fugitive Kind, doesn't quite deserve a place in this Brando pantheon, he certainly merits a slot just beneath them. Why is The Fugitive Kind relatively obscure and less appreciated than it should be? Like Streetcar, it's also based on a Tennessee Williams play, but unlike that star-making Broadway production, it was never a stage hit in its day, flopping in both 1940 (in an early incarnation as Battle of Angels, with Miriam Hopkins) and, after years of rewrites, as Orpheus Descending in 1957. The movie adaptation similarly made little impact, borne out by the fact that it didn't nab a single Academy Award nomination, despite a screenplay co-written by Williams and a cast that also includes Anna Magnani (who'd already won an Oscar® for her role in the film of Williams' The Rose Tattoo), Joanne Woodward and Maureen Stapleton (who'd played the Magnani role onstage). Of course, it's no surprise when a brooding movie like The Fugitive Kind, full of forlorn characters, flops. It often says little about the movie, and more about marketing and Hollywood's shaping of public tastes. Over the years, The Fugitive Kind has been a semi-regular at revival houses and had a Broadway revival in the late 1980s, yet it still is far down on the list of the best-known Williams film adaptations. But The Fugitive Kind offers the same overheated, symbol-laden, heightened reality of the better-known Baby Doll, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or Night of the Iguana. Brando's Val is the charismatic and tragic Orpheus descending of the play's title, a New Orleans "entertainer" who, fittingly, starts the movie in a jail lock-up, after starting a disturbance at a party that police raided. In a very striking opening in which Lumet keeps the camera on Brando, Val tells the unseen judge, in near-monologue, how he suddenly became disgusted with his life of carousing. The judge tells him to get out of the city, and Val gladly complies. His old car dies in a small Mississippi town, though, and he catches a break when the local sheriff's wife (Stapleton) puts in a word for him at the town's general store, run by Lady Torrance (Magnani). Val is anxious to turn over a new leaf and take a clerk's job there, but he's rightly cautious of the situation into which he's stepped: embittered Lady is locked in a loveless marriage with ornery Jabe (Victor Jory), who's bedridden in the living quarters above the store, while the sheriff (R.G. Armstrong) eyes Val like he's fitting him for a noose and rich, wild child Carol Cutrere (Woodward), who knows Val from his entertaining days, keeps trying to seduce him back into the lifestyle he's trying to escape. It's the air of intolerance and suspicion that makes The Fugitive Kind so rich. It's not just the mentions of racism, like the defining moment of Lady's life being when a mob burned down her immigrant father's wine garden and killed him for selling liquor to blacks. It's also the frightened look in the sheriff's wife's eyes, the beaten-down slump in Lady's posture and the drunken party Carol tries to forever sustain to forget the injustice around her. It's in the way Val knows to keep looking over his shoulder to watch for those who won't just let him quietly live, too. "We're all of us sentenced to solitary confinement in our own lonely skins," Val says sadly, in one of the movie's many quotable lines. Of course, many of them would sound silly out of context, but that's Williams for you. As a romance blooms between Val and Lady, whose outlook on life brightens as a consequence (with Magnani giving a typically earthy performance), their happiness heads for a collision course with the forces around them—specifically her suspicious husband and the husband's buddy, the sheriff. No one gets out alive, figuratively speaking, when the sheriff tells Val to get out of town on the same day Lady plans to open a wine garden as a tribute to her father and a shot at Jabe, who still tries to maintain control of the store. Just as mythology's Orpheus ran into trouble while trying to save his love, Val's efforts to rescue Lady from her plight result in disaster on the climactic day. Unlike Streetcar and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, the ending of The Fugitive Kind was not watered down from its stage version. It's a potent, almost eerie resolution. Unfortunately, Sony's DVD of The Fugitive Kind contains just the movie, so it's hardly likely to bring many people unfamiliar with the movie to it. That's a shame, especially considering Warner Home Video has a six-movie, bonus-filled Tennessee Williams boxed set scheduled for May release. Like the sad, lonely people it salutes, The Fugitive Kind is likely to be overshadowed yet more, and still search for respect. For more information about The Fugitive Kind, visit Sony Pictures. To order The Fugitive Kind, go to TCM Shopping. by Paul Sherman

Quotes

Juking? Oh! Well, that's when you get in a car, which is preferably open in any kind of weather. And then you drink a little bit and you drive a little bit, and then you stop and you dance a little bit with a jukebox. And then you drink a little bit more and you drive a little bit more, you stop and you dance a little bit more to another juke box! And then you stop dancing and you just drink and you drive. And then, you stop driving.
- Carol Cutrere

Trivia

Although set in an unnamed small town in the American south, most of the exteriors for "The Fugitive Kind" were actually filmed in Milton, New York, a small town on the Hudson River, approximately 40 miles from New York City.

Notes

The film's working title was Orpheus Descending. The opening credits read "Marlon Brando, Anna Magnani and Joanne Woodward in "Tennessee Williams' The Fugitive Kind." The names of Brando, Magnani, Woodward, Williams and the title are listed on separate title cards. Although the onscreen credits list only the play Orpheus Descending as the basis of The Fugitive Kind, that play was based on Battle of Angels, the first Williams play to be staged professionally. Williams wrote Battle of Angles in 1939, but after an unsuccessful run, rewrote it and retitled it Orpheus Descending. That production opened on Broadway on March 21, 1957, produced by Robert Whitehead for the Producers Theatre. Although Williams had earlier written a play entitled The Fugitive Kind, which was produced by a St. Louis theater group in 1937, that play is unrelated to the film.
       According to an August 1960 Los Angeles Mirror news item, Williams had originally wanted to cast Brando and Magnani in the Broadway version of Orpheus Descending, and press materials note that he wrote the film's screenplay with the two actors in mind. Both had appeared in earlier film adaptations of his plays; Brando rose to fame in the Broadway and film versions of Williams' drama A Streetcar Named Desire, and Magnani starred in The Rose Tattoo in 1955 (see below for both). Williams also had written The Rose Tattoo specifically for Magnani, and although she was not in the stage production, she won her only Academy Award for her performance in the film version. Producer Martin Jurow had been Magnani's agent.
       In June 1958, Daily Variety announced that Anthony Franciosa would play "Valentine `Snakeskin' Xavier." According to a February 27, 1959 Hollywood Reporter news item, Carroll Baker was being considered to play "Carol Cutrere" and Lloyd Nolan was in negotiations for a role. Despite the early preparations for the film, principal photography was delayed, as noted in a May 1960 Los Angeles Examiner article, because of Williams' poor box-office record, Woodward's pregnancy and Brando's schedule on One-Eyed Jacks. A March 1959 news item in Hollywood Reporter stated that the original start date for the production would be pushed back to June to accommodate Brando's schedule on One-Eyed Jacks (1961; see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70), which marked the actor's directorial debut. Woodward, who was borrowed from Twentieth Century-Fox for the production, gave birth in April 1959.
       Press materials affirm that The Fugitive Kind was shot in the town of Milton, NY and at Gold Medal Studios in the Bronx. A May 1959 New York Times article noted that the producers wanted to shoot the film in Mississippi, where the story is set, but shooting closer to the Bronx studio saved the production $50,000. That article estimated the film's budget at $2,000,000, and a July 1959 Variety article noted that the actors' salaries accounted for $1,000,000 of that. Modern sources, however, report that Brando alone earned $1,000,000 for his performance. Brando also received remuneration because his personal production company, Pennebaker, co-produced the film. (Pennebaker was at the time experiencing financial problems, and modern sources state that        The Fugitive Kind helped return the company to solvency.)
       As noted in the Filmfacts review, Maureen Stapleton, who plays "Vee Talbott" in the film, played "Lady Torrance" in the Broadway version of the play. R. G. Armstrong, Virgilia Chew and Janice Mars reprised their Broadway roles for the film. 1959 Hollywood Reporter news items add dialogue supervisor Jud Taylor to the cast and state that producer Jurow had a one-line scene in the film, but their appearance in the final picture has not been confirmed.
       An August 1960 Los Angeles Mirror article reported on tension between Brando and Magnani, noting that her accent and his customary mumbling compromised their ability to communicate. Modern sources state that Brando antagonized his co-star during filming and deliberately slurred his words to unnerve her. The original running time of The Fugitive Kind was 135 minutes, which is the time listed in some contemporary reviews, but modern sources state that poor previews led director Sidney Lumet to recut the film, to its official release length of 119 minutes. Modern sources report that many of the edits addressed Magnani's pronunciation, and that in one entire scene her voice was re-dubbed. As noted in an December 8, 1959 Hollywood Reporter news item, United Artists wanted to open the film on December 24, 1959 so it would be eligible for that year's Academy Awards, but the re-edits caused the release to be pushed back until May 1960.
       Publicity for the film touted the fact that it starred three previous Oscar winners, Brando, Magnani and Woodward. The scene in which Carol attempts to perform oral sex on Val was represented in advertisements with an image of Woodward kneeling in front of Brando. In response to the scene, the Variety reviewer commented that the film "reaches a new low in suggestive animalism." Although reviews for The Fugitive Kind were mixed, the performances were universally lauded.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1996

Released in United States on Video June 24, 1992

Released in United States Spring May 1960

Re-released in United States on Video July 6, 1994

Formerly distributed by Key Video.

Released in United States 1996 (Shown in New York City (American Museum of the Moving Image) as part of program "The Essential Brando" March 16 - April 7, 1996.)

Released in United States Spring May 1960

Released in United States on Video June 24, 1992

Re-released in United States on Video July 6, 1994