This week’s mystery movie was the 1960 United Artists film “The Fugitive Kind,” with Marlon Brando, Anna Magnani, Joanne Woodward, Maureen Stapleton, Victory Jory, R.G. Armstrong, Virgilia Chew, Ben Yaffee, Joe Brown Jr., Mary Perry, Spivy, John Baragrey, Sally Gracie, Lucille Benson, Emory Richardson, Nell Harrison and Janice Mars.
Screenplay by Tennessee Williams and Meade Roberts, based on the play “Orpheus Descending” by Tennessee Williams, as produced on Broadway by Robert Whitehead for Producers Theatre.
Photography by Boris Kaufman, music composed and conducted by Kenyon Hopkins. Song “Blanket Roll Blues,” music by Kenyon Hopkins, lyrics by Tennessee Williams.
Art direction by Richard Sylbert, edited by Carl Lerner.
Assistant director Charles H. Maguire, costume designer Frank Thompson, wardrobe by George Newman and Flo Transfield. Makeup by Robert Jiras and Philip Rhodes. Hairstyles by Mary Roche. Set decorations by Eugene Callahan. Camera operator Saul Midwall. Sound recording by James Gleason, re-recording by Richard Vorisek.
Dialogue supervisors Mickey Knox and Jud Taylor, script supervisor Marguerite James, production coordinator Stephen Bono, sound editor Frank Lewin. Head gaffer Howard Fortune. Head grip Edward Knott. Production secretary Helen Burta. Unit photography Muky Munkacsi.
Associate producer George Justin. Produced by Martin Jurow and Richard A. Shepherd. Directed by Sidney Lumet.
Filmed at Gold Medal Studios, New York (and on location in Milton, N.Y.).
“The Fugitive Kind” was released on Blu-ray by the Criterion Collection and available from TCM.
I chose “The Fugitive Kind” based on the April 13, 1960, review in Motion Picture Daily, which said:
Tennessee Williams, as potent a name now at the motion picture box office as he is for the Broadway stage, comes again to the screen with this film version of his play “Orpheus Descending.” Directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Marlon Brando in his first appearance since “The Young Lions,” the powerful and exciting Anna Magnani and the delicate and sensitive Joanne Woodward, the production has all the soaring poetry of Williams’ exotic style and all the drama of his provocative dissection of human nature. It has also the standard Williams ingredients including decadent characters universal in type but drawn specifically from the South, and an emphasis on the murkier reaches of sexual psychopathy.
Great cast — Brando, Magnani, Woodward — bring Tennessee Williams’ searing play to dramatic fulfillment. Strong adult draw.
Tennessee Williams’ powerful, disturbing Broadway stage hit (“Orpheus Descending”) about a wild itinerant guitarist who sets off a chain reaction of brutality and violence with his arrival in a hot-tempered southern town has been turned into one of the boldest and earthiest screen dramas of the year. Much in the vein of Williams’ other current film success, “Suddenly, Last Summer,” this is an absorbing tinderbox of high-voltage entertainment, loaded with the kind of motion picture chemistry that definitely guarantees explosive box office business.
Writing in the New York Times (April 15, 1960), Bosley Crowther said:
A lot of Tennessee Williams’ sordid view of life may be observed in the film made from his “Orpheus Descending,” now called “The Fugitive Kind.”
There is a broad scan of moral corruption and degeneration in the South. There is a full focus on the sort of tyrant that he particularly dotes upon and loathes. And there are two or three miserable weaklings of the kind that he likes to expose with almost denuding inspection in this new film, which opened at the Astor and the Plaza yesterday.
Cliff Robertson starred in the Broadway production of “Orpheus Descending,” which had 68 performances, but several cast members were in the film, including Maureen Stapleton in the role recast with Anna Magnani, R.G. Armstrong and Virgilia Chew.
The film was shot on location in Milton, N.Y., which was chosen for its resemblance to a Southern town and completed at Gold Medal Studios in New York. An article in American Cinematographer (June 1960) examines some of the techniques used to photograph the film. Here’s Saul Midwal strapped to a chair to film a sequence in which Anna Magnani runs downstairs.
And here is Midwal hanging by ropes to get the shot with a handheld Arriflex.
Here’s the setup to photograph Marlon Brando and Joanne Woodward in her beat-up Jaguar.
For Monday, we have a mystery guest. There are considerable goings-on at this point in the mystery movie, but whether he approves, we cannot say.
Update: This is Emory Richardson.
For Tuesday, we have a mystery woman. And let me tell you, she most certainly does not approve of such goings-on.
Update: This is Virgilia Chew.
Brain Trust roll call: Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie and Monday’s mystery guest), E. Yarber (mystery movie and Monday’s mystery guest) and Johnny Yuma (Monday’s mystery guest).
For “Hm Wednesday,” we have this mystery chap. And I suppose it goes without saying that he does not approve of such goings-on. Except I just said it.
Update: This is John Baragrey.
Brain Trust roll call: Howard Mandelbaum (Tuesday’s mystery nurse).
For “Aha Thursday,” we have this “Aha Gentleman.” And, no. He does not approve of such goings-on.
Update: This is a very sweaty Victor Jory.
Brain Trust roll call: Jenny M. (mystery movie, Tuesday’s mystery nurse and Wednesday’s mystery gent), Howard Mandelbaum (Wednesday’s mystery gent) and E. Yarber (Tuesday’s mystery nurse and Wednesday’s mystery gent).
For Friday, we have a mystery woman of a rather wild temperament, and a mystery companion in a snakeskin jacket. There are in a rather disreputable eating and drinking establishment with a jukebox.
Update: This is Joanne Woodward and Marlon Brando in a juke joint. If you want to read about how the lighting of this scene, see the American Cinematorgrapher article.
Also for Friday, we have this pensive mystery woman and, again, Mr. Snakeskin Jacket. Note his guitar.
Update: This is Anna Magnani and Brando. Much has been written about their fraught relationship during production of the film.
Brain Trust roll call: Howard Mandelbaum (Thursday’s mysterious sweaty gent), Michael Ryerson (mystery movie, Tuesday’s mystery nurse, Wednesday’s disapproving brother, Thursday’s mysterious sweaty gent and mystery leads), Jenny M. (Thursday’s mysterious sweaty gent), McDee (Thursday’s mysterious sweaty gent), Benito (Thursday’s mysterious sweaty gent), E. Yarber (Thursday’s mysterious sweaty gent), Gary (Thursday’s mysterious sweaty gent), Sylvia E. (mystery movie, Monday’s mystery guest, Tuesday’s mystery nurse, Wednesday’s mysterious disapproving brother and Thursday’s mysterious sweaty gent and mystery leads).