The Fugitive

This was a real surprise--a sombre, beautifully photographed adaptation of Graham Greene's arguably best work, The Power and the Glory, and from John Ford. I'm aware of his Catholicism, and I've seen Latinos in his westerns, but I never realized just how profoundly he felt his faith, or how well he could depict Latin Americans beyond the odd stereotype or caricature (I've always thought John Huston was more effective on that score--that this novel would be more up his alley).

And Henry Fonda, that quintessentially American actor, playing a Mexican priest. If you can get beyond his height and his flatly Yankee inflections, he's amazing--the furtive, frightened eyes, the bowed posture, the tight lips terrified to let a careless word pass them.

Sure, his character has been watered down--he's not explicitly a drunkard, and we aren't shown his mistress or bastard child. But I don't agree that he's left with mere pride as a flaw. You can see it in his face, in the way he holds himself; he suggests a whole panorama of sins he's feeling guilty for (the way he looks at Dolores del Rio, for one, implies they have more going on than what's said onscreen; the way he tightly clutches a bottle of brandy in another scene implies he's too fond of the stuff to simply let go).

And the photography, by the great Mexican cinematographer, Gabriel Figueroa--I thought Reed's The Third Man was the most superbly photographed adaptation of Greene; I have to count this one as a possible equal, maybe even superior (it isn't as flashy, for one, and it fits the film's austere spirituality perfectly). Ford himself considers it his favorite of his own films, and I'm not sure I disagree...

No comments: