The Chase


The Chase

Critics Consensus

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Total Count: 6


Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,767
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Movie Info

Arthur Penn directed this atmospheric melodrama with a stellar pedigree (scripted by Lillian Hellman and based upon a play by Horton Foote) and a checkered production history. Penn later disowned the film, complaining that producer Sam Spiegel constantly interfered during production and later barred him from the editing room. "I have never made a film under such unspeakable conditions," Penn said. "I was used merely to move the actors around like horses." The Chase takes place in Tarl, a Texas town lorded over by Val Rogers (E.G. Marshall), the local banker. When convict Bubba Reeves (Robert Redford), a hometown Tarl boy, escapes from the state penitentiary, the town becomes polarized into two camps -- those who think Bubba is guilty of murder, and others who are convinced of his innocence. Sheriff Calder (Marlon Brando) thinks Bubba is innocent and will come back home. Calder, however, has other problems to contend will besides Bubba. Bubba's wife Anna (Jane Fonda), for instance, has been having an affair with his best friend, Jake (James Fox), who happens to be Val Rogers's son. Meanwhile, Ruby (Angie Dickinson), Calder's wife, tries to protect her husband from the turmoil in the town. But, after Calder is sent in to try to control a wild party, he is beaten by an angry mob of partygoers. At the same time, Bubba arrives in town. When word gets out that Bubba is hiding in an automobile junkyard, Calder tries to get to Bubba before the townsfolk do, and take him into safe custody.

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Critic Reviews for The Chase

All Critics (6)

Audience Reviews for The Chase

  • Mar 15, 2017
    An under-appreciated work that takes a hard look at society (and is not happy with what it sees) as we visit a small Southern town as it reacts to the news of a recent prison break by one of its scions. There are only a few decent people to be found and their decency is in constant jeopardy from the rest of the residents, awash in their own filth and only desiring to share only that. Must see (if it is only to see Brando gloriously working the Method).
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Sep 28, 2014
    So, is this the British game show, or the "Doctor Who" serial, or, well, something not British at all? You'd think I could think of a decent song titled "The Chase" to quote, but no, not really, even though this title is a terribly generic. Well, it's at least generic by now, but back in 1966, there was only one other film titled "The Chase", also with a director named Arthur, interestingly enough. The familiarity doesn't end there, because before Arthur Penn caught up with Bonnie and Clyde, he had to hunt down, at the very least, the Sundance Kid. This film is even older than "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", coming out way back when Marlon Brando's star power was a little iffy, before Brando remembered that the bad boy image is most marketable. This time, Brando is a sheriff seeking out an individual of "the fugitive kind", although he might be trying to take Robert Redford out because, again, his star power was rocky enough by 1966, without people realizing that there was an even more good-looking, talented actor who was coming up fast. He may as well have gotten the job done then, before he got too fat to do any sort of chasing, which isn't to say that this film, as it stands, doesn't find its momentum slow down, thanks to a number of factors. I've certainly done my share of joking about how generic this film's title is, and as for the film itself, while it is by no means terribly generic, for every effort to break boundaries with a film like this, storytelling succumbs to conventions as a rather predictable fugitive thriller that has a few dramatic twists. Among the conventions is melodramatics, or at least character actions and situations which don't entirely convince, clashing with the realist aspects and stressing the characters and their angles in the narrative as types. The degree of artificiality in this drama varies (The story of the banker Val Rogers character who deals with marial and family conflicts is particularly manufactured), but I don't know if the film ever gets so overblown that it couldn't have been sold if there wasn't more nuance to the exposition, which is rather lacking, with immediate background development being fairly vacant, while gradual character development, with its shortage in layers and believability, falls just about flat. The film simply doesn't have that much time to flesh out its characters, because there are so very, very, very many of them in this ensemble piece which focuses too intensely on inconsequential roles, and crowbars in more than a few major roles and plotlines, resulting in a focal incoherency so extreme that it's often unbelievable. Biting off way more than it can chew, and ultimately doing little with most of its branches, this film finds its momentum crippled by a startlingly disjointed narrative as much as anything, and even that is an offshoot of excessiveness within overdrawn storytelling that is dragged out by the disorganized bloating, in addition to a whole lot of nothing, backed by a somewhat limp pace which drives the film from blandness into dullness. A sense of importance gets this film off to a good start, and once you get used to a problematic formula of conventions, histrionics, expository shortcomings, and maddening inconsistency, momentum is quickly lost, continuing to fall until the final product finds itself secured as underwhelming. This could have been a pretty rewarding drama and thriller, and yet, while it all but falls flat in that respect, it endears those with plenty of patience, and with a fondness of distinct Texas environments. There's something of a broad scope in this minimalist, if excessive sort of character-driven drama, and it is largely utilized in celebration of various Texas landscapes of the 1960s that include country green lands, and society which ranges from the humble middle-class to the lavish upper-class. The film is a love letter to '60s Texas that is so lovely and so inviting that the visuals of the final product end up being pretty important in holding your attention, further maintained by a plot concept that is exhaustingly overblown with convoluted, melodramatic and disjointed branches which aren't even especially unique, yet are consistently intriguing, to one extent or another. Focusing on a falsely accused fugitive on the run, a sheriff trying to maintain peace and justice in an ignorant town, great flaws in the upper-class, various romantic conflicts, and so, so much more, this story is so overblown it's almost comical, but it does have potential, and although Lillian Hellman's script fails to live up to dramatic potential, by falling into tropes, meanderings and shortcomings in characterization, there is plenty of decent dialogue and few memorable set pieces to further hold up some intrigue. What the writing lacks in convincing humanity and extensive characterization the cast compensates for, with most performers managing to sell plenty, through charisma and just the right hint of nuance to bring some depth to the human aspects of this ensemble piece. Even though there's way too much material for the storytellers to work with, there's not much material for the performers to work with, yet the cast, highlighted by E.G. Marshall, Miriam Hopkins, Marlon Brando, the underused Robert Redford, etc., brings a dramatic depth that is lacking in a clever, but both overblown and undercooked script, and a little less lacking in Arthur Penn's direction. Actually, it may be the ambition, for thoughtfulness which often devolves into blandness, and for dramatic sting which often cloys, in Penn's endeavors that do a number on the momentum of this film, but when Penn finds inspiration, particular engagement value is found in the storytelling, whose utilization of John Barry's striking score and of edgy visuals and happenings hits hard, when realized. Too much of this film is anything but realized, because whether it's overdone or underdone, it ultimately falls a little flat, although there are enough remnants of a stronger film to make the final product fair, if flimsy. When the heat is off, the final product fizzles out a bit, being too conventional, histrionic and underdeveloped to maintain your investment through all of the overwhelming inconsistencies, deriving from an excessive narrative that is unraveled with too much steadiness and dryness to entertain, let alone transcend an underwhelmingness that is counteracted enough by engrossing locations, intriguing subject matter, some clever writing, some solid performances, and some directorial inspiration to secure Arthur Penn's "The Chase" as a layered drama which is falls so very short of its potential, but is still adequate. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Sep 05, 2010
    This is probably my favourite movie that takes place in a small Texan town. This movie has an all-star cast, and a good story. I highly recommend it, it's intense and exciting.
    Aj V Super Reviewer
  • Jul 31, 2010
    I really like this movie, an early neo-western and Marlon Brando being a cool sheriff. I think it tends to throw off people due to the ensemble factor, there's no real main character to latch on to. I actually like that, it's different. Jane Fonda and Angie Dickinson make for some great supporting characters. While this isn't flawless, it has a great heart and a good message about gossip and the power of townspeople.
    Conner R Super Reviewer

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