This is part of my Sidney Lumet Syllabus
The film revolves around the world of Val Xavier (Marlon Brando) as he seems to stumble across a small town and manages to get job at a convenience store. Being a former entertainer his life is about to go through an intentional shift from the hustle and bustle of town to town goings to seek the extra dollar just so he can keep playing his guitar.
The Fugitive Kind is about how this supposedly grand character of Val is really not that. When you hear a person is an entertainer by profession you imagine so many exotic and crazed things. This comes mainly because the regular everyday folk’s life and work environment is so trite and understood that when we see something else, something new, something that looks fun we glorify it and fawn over it to the point of desire. So when we see someone from that desired lifestyle decide that our boring trite living is what he wants it puts a spin on everything that makes us sit back and wonder, “Why?“.
The problem I have with The Fugitive Kind is that I don’t feel like it ever attempts to address this question of why. Why does Val leave his life on the road? Why is it that Lady Torrance (Anna Magnani) is that weirdly drawn to Val? Why is Carol (Joanne Woodward) this crazy?
I almost want to do something I find myself doing more often than I should. I want to blame myself. I want to say that I just wasn’t in the mood for a Tennessee Williams play turned film to give me that intimate southern hospitality of how a snake skinned jacketed man could turn this town upside down, or not really. And yes, I was thinking of Nicolas Cage in Wild at Heart all while watching Brando with his jacket in this film, it’s hard not to.
When entering the world of cinema a name that is received with the smallest amount of vitriol in any capacity is that of Marlon Brando. However, I find myself weirdly criticizing the beloved actor in this film. Something about his whispering tones as he delivers lines I wonder what part of it is acting and what part is just him. While he remains one of those personas that when it works it works I just thought in this regard it didn’t quite work.
Overall this a film of “it didn’t work” for me. What do you do when nothing lands? You admit it wasn’t for you and hope at the very least that one day in five to ten years you’ll forget you saw it and be able to give it a fair shake then.
What do you think of The Fugitive Kind?