Saturday, February 29, 2020

"The Fugitive" (1993)

The Fugitive (1993) is my second-favorite movie of all time.  When I was a teen, I had the poster for it hanging in my bedroom.  Framed, not just taped to the wall like the rest of my posters.  Its soundtrack by James Newton Howard was one of the first CDs I ever bought.  My family made a pilgrimage of sorts to the Great Smoky Mountain Railway, where the train wreck and a few other scenes were filmed, to see the remains of the bus and train used in the film.  So, when I say I love this film dearly, I am very serious indeed.

But why did this movie grab me so hard when I was in my early teens and never let go?  Or maybe the more accurate question would be, what inside me grabbed this movie and wouldn't let go?

A lot of it is Harrison Ford, of course.  My word, that man is handsome.  As a young teen when I first saw this, I was just starting to get interested in menfolks, and I seem to have kind of skipped that stage where girls get all giggly about "cute boys" and gone straight for the meat-and-potatoes aisle where they stock Real Men.  This is probably because I was homeschooled (and didn't have many close girl friends right at that time) AND because my parents raised me on movies with Real Men in them, like John Wayne and Harrison Ford and Sylvester Stallone and Clint Eastwood.

My parents tended to watch movies WITH us, you see.  Our TV was not a babysitter, and we did not have cable or satellite -- our TV got the regular broadcast channels, which we watched very little of, and we had a VCR.  My family would rent one movie every Friday to watch together, back when you had to drive to a store to rent a movie, not just click on it with your mouse or remote or phone or whatever.  My parents already liked Harrison Ford, and they remembered the '60s TV show The Fugitive that this movie is based on, so they rented this when it first came out.  Pretty sure they watched it without us first, since it's rated PG-13, and then they decided my brother and I could handle it, so we all watched it together.  And then, the next week, we rented it again.  And again.  For months.  (Back then, a movie would sometimes come to rental stores six or more MONTHS before you could buy it.  Be so happy you live today, kids.)

So I probably watched this twenty times in six months.  I got very, very well acquainted with it.  Now, by that time, I was already a firm fan of escaping-from-prison and wrongful-imprisonment-proved-innocent stories (The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas had been a favorite book of mine for a couple years already by then).  Plus, I loved mysteries and detective stories already.  So I was absolutely primed to love both sides of the story. 

It all starts when Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford) is accused of killing his wife Helen (Sela Ward). 

He escapes prison custody during a marvelous action sequence involving first a bus wreck, then a train wreck.  Unlike most train wrecks in movies, which are shot with models, this one used a real train hitting a real bus, which is highly cool.

Once he escapes, Kimble dedicates himself to finding out who really murdered his wife.  Meanwhile, a dogged deputy U.S. Marshal named Sammy Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones) leads a team in pursuit of Kimble.  I also love run-and-chase movies, and this has two chases, Kimble chasing the bad guy and Gerard chasing Kimble. 

Anyway.  Young teen me loved the story.  And loved Harrison Ford.  Yes, he was handsome, but he also exuded this niceness that I appreciated right away.  Richard Kimble is nice, kind, helpful, and intelligent -- there's no way I wouldn't love him, as he's everything I still look for in a fictional character. 

And I loved Tommy Lee Jones and his character too.  Though he insists he's tough and uncaring, he's also that mix of nice, kind, helpful, and intelligent that I so value.  I might sometimes even find him a teeny bit more attractive than Harrison Ford in this movie, believe it or not.

It's hard to believe this movie is nearly 30 years old.  It holds up SO incredibly well.  The taut pacing and the smart, banter-filled dialog are especially awesome, and the acting is so enjoyably on point.  Ford and Jones are both at the top of their game here, and the few scenes they share just rock my world.

This is my contribution to the Harrison Ford Blogathon hosted this weekend by Sat in Your Lap.  Go check out the rest of the entries for more Ford-related goodness!


  1. Ooooh! A Harrison Ford blogathon??????

    Nice write up. I love this movie and remember seeing it in the theater a couple times when it came out. The first James Newton Howard score I bought (which I mostly bought for the Storm Drain cue, LOL) was this one. I can definitely see how this one hits all those sweet spots for you. I love Jeroen Krabbe as well.

    1. DKoren, yup! Ended today, but I haven't had a chance to read the other reviews.

      I DREAM of seeing this on the big screen some day. At least, thanks to DVD, I've been able to see the widescreen version.

      Of course you liked the person playing the bad guy.

      (Though, seriously, his face does fit your preferences really well, so I can see that. He reminds me of Marton Csokas, whos name I can't spell.)

  2. Something about homeschooled teen girls and jumping straight to crushing on men 30+ like Darcy and etc. Most of the actors, even if they played younger roles (Chris Pine), I crushed on were at minimum 10 years older.

    I've never seen this, although the wrongfully accused of murdering wife is similar to a Humphrey Bogart I've seen. I'm curious to see a young Tommy Lee Jones. And I always love banter, which seems to be prerequisite for every Harrison Ford movie (not that I've seen many).

    1. It's not just homeschooled girls... I was public schooled and it was always 30+ character/actors. :-D

    2. Livia, are you thinking of Dark Passage? Does have a few similarities to that one, yeah.

      I've seen TLJ younger than this, but right about here is where he grew into his face and got yummy :-)

      Hmmm, I guess Indy and Han Solo do a lot of bantering, but I don't really equate banter with Harrison Ford, huh. Maybe because I've seen oodles of his movies....

    3. DKoren, maybe it's less about school surroundings and more about good taste, then???

    4. Those are literally the only two Harrison Ford movies/franchises I've seen (the basic ones). This and another (I think it might have been you who mentioned the other, something about the Amish) are now on my radar.

      Yeah, Dark Passage was it.

    5. Livia, the Amish one is Witness, and it's very wonderful :-) If you're in the mood for a rom-com, Sabrina (1995) is also wonderful. And if you want a dramedy, his movie Regarding Henry is very sweet and charming (but does have a little adult stuff).

  3. "the meat and potatoes aisle where they stock the Real Men"--I DIED. THAT IS PERFECT.

    *subsides into giggling*

    I thiiiiiiiiiiiiiink ... I don't know, but I think it's ultimately a matter of personality and of what you're looking for in a guy. I think regardless of your school situation or your life experiences, you tend to establish pretty early on whether you're primarily looking for FUN or you're primarily looking for SAFETY [which is the real Grand Continental Divide in terms of feminine tastes, as far as I've observed it.]

    If you want fun, you look for cute boys. If you want safety, you look for steadier, more mature men. That seems to hold up no matter how old you are or how you were raised.

    1. And I want to clarify that I'm not saying this in a judgmental way: I don't think it's inherently better to prioritize safety over fun, or that girls who look for safety will automatically end up in better relationships, or what have you. Because, you might go for a guy you think is "safe / protective" and he just ends up being dominating / controlling. There are risks in either approach.

      But I DO think those seem to be the two main approaches ... and I've had to accept that, that some of my girlfriends are looking for An Entirely Different Thing in male partners than I am. It's the Henry Tilneys vs. the Colonel Brandons ;-)

    2. That is an interesting perspective, the fun vs safety, but I'd maybe say the Willoughbys and Wickhams vs. the main men. Fun can mean secure, Henry Tilney certainly was both, I think I'd prefer secure but never of the Colonel Brandon type. Well, I guess my thing is surely there is both like Henry Tilney in real life, well to my definition of fun, anyway, which is probably tame compared to a lot people.

    3. I get what you're saying! Henry Tilney is not a character whom I associate with safety or security, but I can see how someone else might. And of course this is all extremely subjective, because fun and safety MEAN different things to different people ...

    4. I think Henry Tilney is both fun and emotionally safe, if not physically protective exactly, whereas Mr. Darcy and Mr. Knightley are more serious and safe. Captain Wentworth and Col. Brandon are even more so, since they're men of action who can also jump in there and sword-fight on your behalf and so on. (Let's not talk about Edmund whatshisface, as he's neither particularly fun nor particularly safe.)

    5. Oh, and Edward Ferrars is another serious and safe one.

    6. Yeah. Tilney isn't the type make me feel safe, either emotionally or physically. Colonel Brandon and Captain Wentworth, on the other hand . . . mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, yes. I am a fan of men of action.

      Edmund Whatshisface is Not Cool, Bruh.

    7. Katie, I know you don't like the witty-banter sort of people, so I can see how Tilney would not be your type.

      Edmund Whatshisface... lacks.

    8. Edmund Betram? Poor man, he starts out so well, but then he is so very obviously not emotionally safe as you call it later.

      I love Captain Wentworth best, although I wouldn't recommend him for emotional peace. But then I'm a Marianne-personality-type, and we don't do calm.

  4. I love this movie too. It's one of my favorite 90s movies. The train wreck scene is still one of the best ever filmed because it was done with real a trains. Nowadays it would be all CGI and look so fake.

    I agree about Harrison Ford, however this is the movie that made me fall in love with Tommy Lee Jones.

    Very interesting discussion about boys vs men. If I may butt into that conversation rudely it has nothing to do with fun vs security for me. Never even thought about that. For me boys are snowflakes. I'll leave it at that :)

    1. Margot, yes! No CGI makes it look so scary and real.

      Tommy Lee Jones is really lovely in this. It totally made me a fan of his as well.

      Fun vs. security is really not a thing I'd considered before, though I definitely have a need to feel protected, so that maybe plays a little into their discussion. I often tend to go for the very fierce, warrior-like fictional characters because I know they could protect me if I happened to be in that fictional universe. And in real life, I married a man with massive shoulders who is definitely ready and willing to protect me. Interestingly, I often feel extremely protective OF these protector-type characters, so it's kind of a weird circle or balancing act or something. Hmm.

    2. Probably 90% of all women go for these kind of fierce yet protective characters, whether they admit it or not.
      Your husband sounds lovely. :)

    3. Margot, kinda true, I think.

      He is :-)

  5. *blinking and emerging slowly out of an entire month of sickness i.e. dragging-cloudily-general-awfulness & peering cautiously round at the world while simultaneously feeling immensely guilty for ignoring my email of late ;/*

    But I loved your review!! I've seen this once and you reminded me how much I did like it. And we just did a weeklong Star Wars stint so I'm in the mood for something with Harrison Ford. Plus it would make my husband Very Happy to hear when he walks in the door cause he loves and has been wanting to rewatch this one, so thank you for the inspiration, I think we may have our evening figured out! ;)

    *now smiling, waving, and sending hugs before unsociably ducking back into snail-like shell*

    1. Heidi, oh, I'm sorry to hear you've been sick! Yuck :-( I have had months like that too where it's just... all I can do to get through each day. Glad you're starting to feel better!

      Aww, thanks! I really love this movie. I hope you did get a chance to rewatch this! And it's funny, but I've been on a Star Wars kick lately myself. It's all the Mandalorian's fault -- I feel in love with the whole show (and Mando himself, bigtime) and then last month my kids finally said they wanted to finish watching the original trilogy, only it'd been so long since they watched the first movie, we watched it over again, and then proceeded on, so we spent like three weeks watching those, and then they wanted to rewatch Rogue One, and so yeah... much Star Wars love happening over here currently :-)

      Rest up and recharge!


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