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Monday, December 26, 2011

The Chase (1966)

A small Texas town bubbles over with a mixture of fear, anger and excitement when news reaches the town that an escaped prisoner (Robert Redford) is on his way home. Several of the townspeople are particularly affected including his wife (Jane Fonda) who is having an affair with her husband's best friend (James Fox), his mother (Miriam Hopkins) who has a sense of guilt of how he turned out, the bank vice president (Robert Duvall) who stole some money but let Redford take the fall and the sheriff (Marlon Brando) who must try to keep law and order as racism and vigilantism rear their ugly heads. This underrated film was poorly received both critically and financially upon its initial release but the passage of time has been kind to the film and slowly, but surely, the film's reputation is growing and justifiably so. Directed by Arthur Penn with a screenplay by Lillian Hellman (THE LITTLE FOXES) from a play by Horton Foote, it's Tennessee Williams territory with its portrait of a Southern sexual and violent hothouse. The film doesn't temper either its sexuality (wife swapping seems the town's favorite sport) or violence (a scene of Brando being brutally beaten was quite graphic for its day). The score is by John Barry. The huge cast includes Angie Dickinson, Martha Hyer, E.G. Marshall, Janice Rule, Henry Hull, Diana Hyland, Richard Bradford, Bruce Cabot, Jocelyn Brando, Eduardo Ciannelli, Lori Martin, Malcolm Atterbury and Clifton James.

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