Fugitive Kind began life as Battle of Angels, a never-produced 1939 play by a young Tennessee Williams. Nearly 20 years later, Williams refined this rough-hewn theatrical effort into Orpheus Descending, which enjoyed a respectable Broadway run. The renamed film version stars Marlon Brando as Valentine "Snakeskin" Xavier, a trouble-prone drifter who wanders into a deliciously Williamsesque Mississippi town. Here he becomes involved in the problems of alcoholic Carole Cutrere (Joanne Woodward) and unhappily married Lady Torrence (Anna Magnani) and also runs afoul of Torrence's vicious husband (Victor Jory). Sexual symbolism abounds in this tempestuous drama, which offers Brando at his most inscrutable and Magnani at her earthiest. Maureen Stapleton, in real life one of Brando's best friends and severest critics, plays an avant-garde artist.
by Hal Erickson synopsis