The Fugitive (1947) starring Henry Fonda, Dolores del Rio, Pedro Armendáriz, J. Carrol Naish, Leo Carrillo, Ward Bond, Robert Armstrong, John Qualen directed by John Ford Movie Review

The Fugitive (1947)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Henry Fonda in The Fugitive (1947)

Ford & Fonda's Fugitive

In a small South American country a communist government has taken power and in doing so outlawed Catholicism, extraditing and executing anyone who would preach the word. It forces a priest (Henry Fonda) to turn fugitive as he knows the police are hunting him down but at the same time feels the calling to do God's work so strongly that he is willing to put himself in danger to baptise babies and perform the last rites. It also makes him susceptible to those who would betray him for their own good as Judas betrayed Jesus forcing the priest to keep on moving.

Whilst I watch and review lots of movies, many from a long time ago which would not necessarily interest modern movie fans I still count myself as a movie fan rather than a movie buff. Why do I say this? Well it is because of John Ford's "The Fugitive" as there are many reviews of this movie from those who I call movie buffs, who compare its look at Catholicism to the way Hitchcock tackled the subject whilst also exploring the opinions of those who were disappointed by the adaptation of the popular Graham Greene book. But ironically these reviews fail to say whether the movie is entertaining or not which as a movie fan is really my first priority.

So as to John Ford's "The Fugitive" yes it is entertaining but not in a general mainstream way as it has a heavy tone which at times feels exceptionally slow going and requires the audience to read between the lines to understand what is going on. An example of which is the opening scene which seems almost like an apocalyptical scene as the Priest walks into the ruins of a church and you have to listen to the words to become aware of what is going on which is not confirmed until much later on. That doesn't mean that "The Fugitive" isn't interesting but it is very different to the John Ford westerns of the time and as such might not be what you are expecting.

Whether or not you are a movie buff or not it is impossible not to be taken by the cinematography of Gabriel Figueroa who gives some heavily staged but stunning visuals from the light streaming into the derelict church to illuminate the priests gaunt face or the almost halo effect he gives a woman played by Dolores del Rio as she tries to hide the Priest from the law. It is not just the light effects as the sweeping shots of a town being raided by police on horseback are just as stunning and this movie which is now over 60 years old puts many a modern movie to shame when it comes to look.

"The Fugitive" also puts modern movies to shame when it comes to the acting and Henry Fonda is stunning in this lesser known movie portraying a man who looks ill with worry yet empowered by God to face his destiny. It is a performance of few words but the look is absolutely brilliant and it speaks volumes.

What this all boils down to is that "The Fugitive" is entertaining but probably not what you expect from a John Ford movie and is heavier than you might expect although at the same time visually stunning thanks to the cinematography of Gabriel Figueroa.