The Fugitive Kind (1960)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Melodrama  |   Run Time - 119 min.  |   Countries - Argentina, United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Derek Armstrong

The Fugitive Kind finds Marlon Brando at his slush-mouthed best, in a landscape that's pure Tennessee Williams -- appropriate, since the celebrated playwright wrote the screenplay. Three years after his breakthrough direction of Twelve Angry Men (1957), Sidney Lumet helms this involving tale of a reforming petty criminal (Brando) who quickly runs afoul of the local citizenry in rural Mississippi, in spite of his best efforts to abide by the law. In the course of spouting world-weary poetic blither, Brando's Xavier Valentine catches the attention of a crass wild child (Joanne Woodward) and a repressed convenience store owner (Anna Magnani). The Fugitive Kind confounds expectations by exploring a romantic relationship between Brando and the older Magnani, rather than the blonde, age-appropriate Woodward; though true to form for Brando characters, the relationship is all argument verging on fisticuffs. Magnani's performance is the soul of the picture, as her character's years of self-abnegating emotional baggage come to the fore with tortured immediacy. In relatively little screen time, Victory Jory plumbs the depths of jealousy and racism as Magnani's domineering husband, whose seething dictatorship over his dominion far outstretches the fragility of his bedridden body. The Fugitive Kind may be a lesser picture in the careers of those involved, but that's more an indication of the richness of those careers than a knock on this worthy morality play.