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This One Is#9 To Be Precise
by Jon Schuller

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As far as I know, you can copyright many things in this world, but you cannot copyright a title. Songs, books, poems and, of course, movies have all seen the same titles used over the decades and centuries. Otherwise, many immortal works might never have been seen because the title was so boring. Films and television have duplicated titles over many years and the one I've chosen for this week's column was the ninth movie (out of a total of ten) to be called The Fugitive. Here is the entire list:
The Fugitive (1910 film), film directed by D.W. Griffith set during the American Civil War.
The Fugitive (1914 film), 1914 Russian-French short film.
The Fugitive (1920 film), 1920 French silent film directed by André Hugon.
Fugitives (1929 film), American film directed by William Beaudine.
The Fugitive (1933 film), 1933 Western starring Rex Bell.
The Fugitive (1939 film), the American title of a British film actually titled On the Night of the Fire.
The Fugitive (1947 film), film starring Henry Fonda and Dolores del Río.
The Fugitive (1965 film), South Korean film starring Kim Ji-mee.
The Fugitive (1972 film), Hong Kong film.
The Fugitive (1993 film), film starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones.
The Fugitive (2003 film), Italian crime-drama film Il fuggiasco and its soundtrack.

The Fugitive,
released in August, 1993, starred Harrison Ford as Dr. Richard Kimble, Tommy Lee Jones as Deputy U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard, Sela Ward as Helen Kimble, Joe Pantoliano as Deputy U.S. Marshal Cosmo Renfro, Andreas Katsulas as Fredrick Sykes, Jeroen Krabbé as Dr. Charles Nichols and Julianne Moore as Dr. Anne Eastman, one of her first featured roles. It was loosely based on the long-running television show, but, in my humble opinion, was much better. It was nominated for over 25 awards (despite some critical panning) including seven Academy Awards.

Doctor Richard Kimble, a successful and famous Chicago vascular surgeon, found his wife dead in their apartment and, as he tells the police, wrestled with her killer, a one-armed man. His trial is swift and he is sentenced to death for First Degree murder. He is being transported by a prison bus to the death row site and his fellow prisoners attempt an escape; the bus slides into a ravine and Kimble escapes just before a freight train destroys the bus and then derails in a violent crash. U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard and his team are called in to the scene and take over the investigation from the local sheriff. Evidence of Kimble surviving the wreck is found.

Kimble runs into a local town, sneaks into a hospital and changes his appearance into a doctor,
stealing an ambulance as the marshal and his team track him down to a storm sewer drain. Gerard catches up to him, but loses his gun. Kimble shouts his innocence and leaps over the dam into deep waters. He again eludes capture, this time making his way back to Chicago.

Kimble gets money from an old colleague, Doctor Charles Nichols. He works his way into Cook County Hospital as a janitor, looking at the hospital's prosthetic limbs department's records of one-armed men. He eventually finds a likely candidate, a former Chicago policeman, Frederick Sykes, and breaks into his apartment. Kimble finds several photographs of Sykes with a doctor Kimble worked with. Kimble realizes that Sykes murdered his wife, but, he, Kimble, had really been the intended target.

Richard Kimble, being thorough and careful, has pieced together what had been happening prior to his wife's tragic death. His friend, Nichols, was working on a new drug development program for a major drug company, Devlin MacGregor, and Sykes was their security chief. Kimble had been looking into the trial testing results and had discovered that the results had been tampered with; negative results had been replaced with healthy tissue. Kimble had become the target for assassination, ordered by his friend Doctor Nichols.

At a dinner in the
Chicago Hilton, the new drug, Provasic, is going to be introduced by Charles Nichols. Kimble had been involved on an elevated train with Sykes and a transit cop as he subdues Sykes and goes to the conference. Kimble enters the dining room and publicly confronts Nichols about the phony test results. They leave the room together and have a fight that eventually winds up in the hotel laundry room. Gerard has chased them there and Kimble saves Gerard's life. Nichols is arrested as Gerard and Kimble get into a cab. Gerard quietly admits to Kimble he knows the doctor is innocent.

The famous train crash scene was filmed in North Carolina and Chris and I saw the site on a visit not long after the film premiered. A North Carolina train had been painted to the colors of the Illinois Central System.

I like the film's excitement and Doctor Kimble's relentless pursuit of the truth to prove his innocence. Tommy Lee Jones was simply amazing as the marshal who is also inexorable in his pursuit of justice. Both characters are on parallel courses but eventually end up at the same place, with a conclusion that is fair and just. Supporting players put together a great film that never gets dull. Again, some critics found fault but moviegoers went to see it by the millions and its revenues put it near the top grossing for 1993.

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Cinema Savant
Every other Thursday

My views on an eclectic mix of films and personalties, past and present; emotional interpretations; some laughs, some cries.

Other Columns
Other columns by Jon Schuller:

Have You Been Spying On Me Lately? For How Long?

But Can She Act? That's What I Want to Know

They're Not the Same People They Used To Be

Time Does Fly When We Watch Movies

Before Minimum or Maximum, There Was Only Prison

All Columns

Jon Schuller
I am a former New Jersey native, living in Charlotte, N.C. for almost 30 years. I am a lifelong movie lover with lots of movie trivia knowledge and soundtracks in my CD collection. I enjoy sharing my love of films with everyone and have so many fond memories growing up in darkened movie theaters. I have been married 50 years (as of December 22, 2018) and we both share a passion for film (and each other of course).

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Jon Schuller by clicking here.

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