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The Fugitive Kind
DVD disk
04.29.2010 By: Mathew Plale
The Fugitive Kind order
Director:
Sidney Lumet

Actors:
Marlon Brando
Anna Magnani
Joanne Woodward

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
In this adaptation of a Tennessee Williams play, drifter Val (Brando) winds up in a small town shop and in the sights of the sex-hungry owner (Magnani) and a wild child (Woodward).
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Val Xavier drifts onscreen carrying nothing but a guitar and a snakeskin jacket. He’s an ex-convict and an entertainer, but he’d rather liken himself to a dog.

Val (Marlon Brando) seeks employment in a general store from its owner, Lady Torrance (Anna Magnani, Oscar winner for 1956’s The Rose Tattoo), whose ill husband is upstairs, giving her enough time and room to fiddle with Val. Also rampaging through the story sporadically is Carol Cutrere (Joanne Woodward, Oscar winner for 1958’s The Three Faces of Eve), a wild child who wants to be “seen, notice, heard and felt” and probably more that the writers left out.

Sidney Lumet’s The Fugitive Kind (1960), penned by Tennessee Williams and Meade Roberts (based on the former‘s 1957 play, Orpheus Descending), is filled with so many Williams trademarks--the cast of lost ones and mad ones, the sweaty southern air, the near-soap operatic scenarios--that it risks becoming unremarkable rather than representative like the cinematic adaptations of the playwright’s Deep South tales such as A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Baby Doll.

While The Fugitive Kind fails to rank, there are still aspects of greatness to be found: Brando is rarely better than when he’s mumbling the words of Tennessee Williams (Val’s monologues are keenly handled); the female cast, including the unmentioned Maureen Stapleton, are sublime; and the few, effective lines that reveal for more than just their speaker: “That’s where I come from, it’s not where I’m going.”
THE EXTRAS
Disc One:

The film.

Disc Two:

Sidney Lumet (27:46): In this interview, recorded this year exclusively for this DVD release, the 85-year-old director shares his thoughts and memories on the works of playwright Tennessee Williams, working with the material, and making his fourth film, The Fugitive Kind.

Hollywood’s Tennessee and The Fugitive Kind (27:30): In this documentary, Williams historian Robert Bray and film historian R. Barton Palmer, authors of last year’s Hollywood’s Tennessee: The Williams Films and Postwar America, discuss the many cinematic adaptations of Williams’ works, with much focus on 1960’s The Fugitive Kind.

Three Plays by Tennessee Williams (54:59): Presented here are three one-act plays, all directed by Lumet and originally featured on the Kraft Television Theatre series, with an introduction by Williams. They are: Moony’s Kid Don’t Cry (Ben Gazzara, Lee Grant), The Last of My Solid Gold Watches (Thomas Chalmers, Gene Saks) and This Property is Condemned (Zina Bethune, Martin Huston).

Also included with this Criterion Collection DVD is a 16-page booklet featuring an essay titled “When Sidney Went to Tennessee” by author David Thomson.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
While The Fugitive Kind is not one of the stronger Tennessee Williams adaptations, it does boast excellent turns from Brando, Magnani and Woodward. Fans of any of the talent, including director Lumet, may want to give the movie a rent.
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