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The Fugitive

Made in Mexico with Hollywood leads and native extras, The Fugitive tells how the government of one of the Mexican states, in a ruthless drive to stamp out religion, hunts down the last remaining priest, captures him by a cruel ruse and has him executed by a firing squad. The picture is rich in atmosphere and is sincerely done, but it is slow in spots and uneven in dramatic power.

Made in Mexico with Hollywood leads and native extras, The Fugitive tells how the government of one of the Mexican states, in a ruthless drive to stamp out religion, hunts down the last remaining priest, captures him by a cruel ruse and has him executed by a firing squad. The picture is rich in atmosphere and is sincerely done, but it is slow in spots and uneven in dramatic power.

According to the opening screen narration, The Fugitive is a true story, with Biblical overtones and with ‘topical, timeless and universal’ qualities. It is apparently based on the efforts of the Mexican government 20-odd years ago to curtail the power of the Catholic church and control its priests. But it will probably be widely regarded as an attack on Communism.

Parts of the story [from Graham Greene’s novel The Labyrinthine Ways, also published as The Power and the Glory] aren’t clear. The government’s drive against the church, for instance, isn’t fully motivated. In addition, there is a character of an American bandit-murderer (Ward Bond) whose function isn’t satisfactorily established, but who risks his life in helping the fleeing priest to reach temporary haven.

The Fugitive is handsomely photographed, with colorful village scenes and impressive landscapes. Henry Fonda is expressive in the subdued and somewhat static role of the priest. Dolores Del Rio is decorative and mutely impassioned as a devout victim of the law.

The Fugitive

  • Production: Argosy/RKO. Director John Ford; Producer John Ford, Merian C. Cooper; Screenplay Dudley Nichols; Camera Gabriel Figueroa; Editor Jack Murray; Music Richard Hageman; Art Director Alfred Ybarra
  • Crew: (B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1947. Running time: 99 MIN.
  • With: Henry Fonda Dolores Del Rio Pedro Armendariz J. Carrol Naish Leo Carrillo Ward Bond