New from Solzy at the Movies by Danielle Solzman: The Fugitive celebrates 25 years

Earlier this month, The Fugitive marked its 25th anniversary since its theatrical release in 1993.  The critically acclaimed film manages to hold up so many years later.

The three main players are Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford), U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones), and one-armed man Fredrick Sykes (Andreas Katsulas).  Aside from some minor changes, the film mostly plays out like the television series it’s based on.  Kimble, a cardiovascular surgeon, is wrongfully accused of killing his wife, Helen (Sela Ward).  He takes advantage of a breakout on the prison bus and makes a run for it.  Amid all the craziness, he manages to save the life of a prison bus guard from the approaching train!  Would a guilty doctor have made the same decision?  I don’t think so!  It’s after this where Gerard and company enter the scene to look for the now-fugitive Kimble.

There’s some great set pieces that stand out so many years later including the train crash.  Another one specifically is the scene in the culvert where Dr. Kimble tells Gerard, “I didn’t kill my wife!”  To which Gerard simply responds, “I don’t care.”  The line was changed at Jone’s request to where it has a bigger impact.  It’s only after this in which Kimble takes on one of the film’s biggest stunt.

Ford is so committed to his performance as the surgeon that he declined surgery until after The Fugitive completed production.  It’s because of this that Ford’s limp in the film is real.  He’s not faking it.  If it weren’t such a stacked year at the Oscars, Ford very well could have earned his second Oscar nomination.

However, it’s Tommy Lee Jones who delivers one of the best performances of his career.  The way I see it–if you replaced Jones with a lesser actor, the film isn’t the same.  The way that Tommy Lee Jones delivers in his performance helps take the film to that higher level.  His taking home the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance is no surprise.  Of the performances I’ve seen in the category, his is the best of the bunch.

It’s always fun to look back at these films and point out those actors in roles before they were stars.  In this case, a number of actors with Chicago roots have cameos or otherwise minor supporting roles.  They include Jane Lynch, Greg Hollimon (feature debut), David Pasquesi, Kirsten Nelson (feature debut), and Neil Flynn.

Based on the television series of the same name, the film manages to relocate the action from Indiana to Chicago.  This is a refreshing change of scenery from the usual locations of New York or Los Angeles.  It’s now some 25 years later and Chicago’s film scene is quite clearly on the rise.  While this film may not celebrate the city in the same way that many John Hughes films have done, there’s a number of landmarks on camera.  If you’re inclined to check out some of the sites in the film, just click here.  The train station featured late in the film is referred to as Balbo but it’s really Clark/Lake.

Led by two stellar performances, The Fugitive has certainly managed to withstand the test of time.

DIRECTOR:  Andrew Davis
SCREENWRITERS:  Jeb Stuart and David Twohy
CAST:  Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones, Sela Ward, Joe Pantoliano, Andreas Katsulas, Jeroen Krabbé

Warner Bros. Pictures opened The Fugitive in theaters on August 6, 1993. Click to purchase the film on Blu-ray.

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