The Fugitive Kind

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Marlon Brando plays a dangerous drifter, Valentine “Snakeskin” Xavier who wanders into a Mississippi town whose inhabitants include an alcoholic played by Joanne Woodward, an unhappily married woman played by Anna Magnani in one of her earthiest performances, and an avant-garde artist played by Maureen Stapleton.

“At the center of [Williams’s] drama, which grimly and relentlessly takes place in the sweaty and noxious climate of a backwash Louisiana town, there are two brave and enterprising people whose inevitably frustrating fate assumes, from the vibrance of their natures, the shape of tragedy. And because Marlon Brando and Anna Magnani play these two people brilliantly, THE FUGITIVE KIND has a distinction and a sensitivity that are rare today in films.

“Credit, too, Sidney Lumet, who has directed this piercing account of loneliness and disappointment in a crass and tyrannical world. His 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.

“Simply, this is a drama of the disquieting things that occur when a vagrant guitar singer comes into a vicious little town. Being alien and unprepossessing, except for his masculinity, he is bewitching to the women in the community, aggravating and offensive to the men.

“One wild creature, played by Joanne Woodward, tries desperately to grapple him. A dull, gentle housewife, played bovinely by Maureen Stapleton, reaches forth a hand. But it is a lonely, lovestarved woman, wife of a brutish invalid, who makes contact with the cryptic and cautious fugitive.” – New York Times

“Marlon Brando is pitted against Anna Magnani and it’s the biggest grudge match since King Kong met Godzilla.” – Dave Kehr

  • Country USA
  • Rating NR
  • Year 1960
  • Running Time 119 minutes
  • Distributor United Artists
  • Director Sidney Lumet

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