The Fugitive (1947)

96, 99 or 104-105 mins | Drama | 3 November 1947

Directors:

John Ford, Mel Ferrer

Writer:

Dudley Nichols

Cinematographer:

Gabriel Figueroa

Editor:

Jack Murray

Production Designer:

Alfred Ybarra

Production Company:

Argosy Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were The Power and the Glory and The Labyrinthine Ways , the latter of which was the American publication title of Graham Greene's novel. In a spoken prologue, the filmmakers acknowledge that "this picture was entirely made in our neighboring republic Mexico, at the kind invitation of the Mexican government and of the Mexican motion picture industry." The prologue describes the picture as "true," having first been told "in the Bible," and notes that the fictional locale is a small "state one thousand miles north or south of the equator."
       The Fugitive was the first collaboration between RKO and Argosy Pictures, a company in which director John Ford and producer Merian C. Cooper were major stockholders. According to HR , Argosy first considered United Artists as its distributor. Modern sources add the following information about the film's inception: Ford and Cooper entered into a deal with RKO whereby Argosy would produce three pictures for RKO to distribute and would share the costs and the net profits fifty-fifty while retaining creative control of the output. A provision of the deal was that if the initial film was successful, RKO would finance The Quiet Man , an Irish story Ford wanted to direct since purchasing it in 1936. Ford first got the idea to make The Fugitive after reading Greene's novel in 1940, but at that time, was unable to sell the story to any studio because of censorship problems. (In the book, the priest has an affair with the Indian woman.) When the RKO deal presented itself, Ford returned to ... More Less

The working titles of this film were The Power and the Glory and The Labyrinthine Ways , the latter of which was the American publication title of Graham Greene's novel. In a spoken prologue, the filmmakers acknowledge that "this picture was entirely made in our neighboring republic Mexico, at the kind invitation of the Mexican government and of the Mexican motion picture industry." The prologue describes the picture as "true," having first been told "in the Bible," and notes that the fictional locale is a small "state one thousand miles north or south of the equator."
       The Fugitive was the first collaboration between RKO and Argosy Pictures, a company in which director John Ford and producer Merian C. Cooper were major stockholders. According to HR , Argosy first considered United Artists as its distributor. Modern sources add the following information about the film's inception: Ford and Cooper entered into a deal with RKO whereby Argosy would produce three pictures for RKO to distribute and would share the costs and the net profits fifty-fifty while retaining creative control of the output. A provision of the deal was that if the initial film was successful, RKO would finance The Quiet Man , an Irish story Ford wanted to direct since purchasing it in 1936. Ford first got the idea to make The Fugitive after reading Greene's novel in 1940, but at that time, was unable to sell the story to any studio because of censorship problems. (In the book, the priest has an affair with the Indian woman.) When the RKO deal presented itself, Ford returned to the Greene novel, perhaps because producers Emilio Fernández and William Donovan, a Ford collaborator, had already set up financing for a picture to be made in Mexico. Ford and writer Dudley Nichols then excised the controversial sex from the story. The Fugitive failed in the U.S., and RKO did not finance The Quiet Man , which was produced in 1952 by Argosy and Republic Pictures. According to an Apr 1948 HR news item, funds for The Quiet Man were acquired from frozen British assets generated by the distribution of The Fugitive and Ford's next picture Fort Apache (see above entry).
       Contemporary news items and feature articles add the following information about the production: In addition to RKO's Churubusco Studios located outside Mexico City, scenes were filmed in Cuernavaca, Taxco, Acapulco, Cholula, Perote, Puebla, Vera Cruz and Tepoztlan, Mexico. Except for an editor, two assistant directors and a production manager, the entire crew of The Fugitive was Mexican. In news items, Ford attested to the professionalism of his Mexican crew, which he said ran "neck and neck with the best...in Hollywood." Although HR announced that the picture was to be shot in both Spanish and English, no evidence that a Spanish language version was made has been found. Melchor Ferrer, who is credited onscreen as directorial assistant and whom modern sources include in the cast, was to star with Dolores Del Rio and Fortunio Bonanova in the Spanish version. Argosy borrowed Ferrer from David O. Selznick's company, and Pedro Armendáriz from Mary Pickford's company for the production. Mexican extra Elena Priesca was cast in a bit part, but her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Thirty-seven horsemen, known as "Jack Pennick's Charros," were recruited for the production from all over Mexico. (Pennick, an actor and frequent Ford collaborator, is credited onscreen as executive assistant.) Journalist Frank S. Nugent, who accompanied Ford to Mexico, reported in NYT in Mar 1947 that associate producer Emilio Fernández, "Mexico's top director," was working as Ford's "first lieutenant" and also was the set interpreter. Nugent commented on the "outrageous crossing of jurisidictional lines" that occurred among the Mexican crew members. In contrast to a typical Hollywood crew, the Mexican team was allowed to perform a variety of tasks on the set. According to Nugent, local extras were paid $2.50, or twelve pesos, a day. Shortly after this film's release, Nugent went on to work for Ford on several other productions.
       The NYT review noted the similarity between this film and Ford's highly acclaimed 1935 picture The Informer , which also was written by Dudley Nichols and released by RKO. In Nov 1946, Twentieth Century-Fox claimed ownership of the title The Fugitives , and attempted to stop Argosy from using the title The Fugitive , but failed. In May 1947, HR announced that Ford had agreed to make one more picture for RKO ( Fort Apache ) as part of a deal whereby he would attain rights to The Fugitive . (When Fort Apache was in production, however, United Artists was again announced as distributor.) In Apr 1948, HR announced that Ford was to speak on the ABC radio network to address charges leveled by American and Mexican left-wingers that the picture reflected unfairly on the Mexican government and its people. The charges, which were accompanied by a threatened boycott of the picture by the Mexican community in Los Angeles, were made despite the foreword's disclaimer regarding the film's setting. The Fugitive was the last film on which Nichols and Ford collaborated. In Jul 1948, HR announced that, because of the success of the picture overseas, Ford and Cooper were planning a sequel called The Sanctuary . The sequel, which was never made, was to have starred Dolores Del Rio and Pedro Armendáriz and was to have been produced in Hollywood using a mostly Mexican crew. According to the same news item, The Fugitive won twelve national awards and twenty-six foreign awards. NYT rated The Fugitive as one of the "best of 1947." Modern sources add José I. Torvay, Enriqueta Reza, Rodolfo Acosta and Columba Domínguez to the cast, and credit Manuel Topete as a sound man.
       A televised version of Greene's novel was broadcast on 21 Oct 1959 on the WNTA television network. That version, called The Power and the Glory , starred James Donald and was directed by Carmen Capalbo. A second televised version, also titled The Power and the Glory , starring Laurence Olivier, George C. Scott and Patty Duke and directed by Marc Daniels, was broadcast on 1 Nov 1961 on the CBS network. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
15 Nov 1947.
---
Daily Variety
5 Nov 1946.
---
Daily Variety
3 Feb 1947.
---
Film Daily
7 Nov 47
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Aug 46
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Sep 46
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Oct 46
pp. 1-2.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Nov 46
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Nov 46
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Dec 46
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Dec 46
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jan 47
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Feb 47
p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Feb 47
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
6 May 47
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Nov 47
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Apr 48
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Apr 48
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jul 48
p. 2.
Independent Film Journal
4 Jan 47
p. 34.
Life
6 Oct 47
p. 51.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
8 Nov 47
p. 3917.
New York Times
16 Feb 1947.
---
New York Times
26 Dec 47
p. 22.
New York Times
28 Dec 47
sec II, p. 1.
The NYT Magazine
23 Mar 47
p. 17, 52-53.
Variety
5 Nov 47
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Asst dir
Dir asst
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Pres
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Props
MUSIC
Mus score and dir
Mus score performed by
PRODUCTION MISC
Exec asst
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene (London, 1940).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Labyrinthine Ways
The Power and the Glory
Release Date:
3 November 1947
Production Date:
early December 1946--late January 1947 at RKO's Churubusco Studios, Mexico City
Copyright Claimant:
Argosy Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
11 November 1947
Copyright Number:
LP1335
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
96, 99 or 104-105
Length(in feet):
9,397
Country:
United States
PCA No:
12317
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In a Latin American village, a priest dressed in ragged peasant clothes seeks shelter in an abandoned church and is discovered praying by Maria Dolores, an Indian. The priest confesses to Maria that he used to be the village's spiritual leader, but is now being pursued by the police, who are acting on government orders to eradicate all religious figures. Although the law forbids public religious acts, the priest tells Maria he will baptize her illegitimate baby as well as all the other unbaptized babies in the village. The ceremony is well attended by candle-bearing worshippers, and many children, including Maria's, are baptized. At the port city of Puerto Grande, meanwhile, American fugitive James Calvert, known as "El Gringo," disembarks with a satchel of stolen money. While Calvert, who is wanted for murder, fades into a crowd, a police lieutenant confers with the local chief of police about the priest. The chief shows the lieutenant a photograph of the priest, who is the only remaining padre in the country, and the zealous lieutenant vows to kill the priest before the "rains come." To achieve his goal, the lieutenant plans to take and kill hostages from every village until the priest is turned over to him. Leading an army of men, the lieutenant, who believes that religion exploits poor people, then descends on the priest's village. Although the priest offers himself, the lieutenant fails to recognize him and insists on taking a married man as his hostage. Terrified, the priest heads for Puerto Grande, intending to leave the country on the next boat. Along the way, he is accosted by ... +


In a Latin American village, a priest dressed in ragged peasant clothes seeks shelter in an abandoned church and is discovered praying by Maria Dolores, an Indian. The priest confesses to Maria that he used to be the village's spiritual leader, but is now being pursued by the police, who are acting on government orders to eradicate all religious figures. Although the law forbids public religious acts, the priest tells Maria he will baptize her illegitimate baby as well as all the other unbaptized babies in the village. The ceremony is well attended by candle-bearing worshippers, and many children, including Maria's, are baptized. At the port city of Puerto Grande, meanwhile, American fugitive James Calvert, known as "El Gringo," disembarks with a satchel of stolen money. While Calvert, who is wanted for murder, fades into a crowd, a police lieutenant confers with the local chief of police about the priest. The chief shows the lieutenant a photograph of the priest, who is the only remaining padre in the country, and the zealous lieutenant vows to kill the priest before the "rains come." To achieve his goal, the lieutenant plans to take and kill hostages from every village until the priest is turned over to him. Leading an army of men, the lieutenant, who believes that religion exploits poor people, then descends on the priest's village. Although the priest offers himself, the lieutenant fails to recognize him and insists on taking a married man as his hostage. Terrified, the priest heads for Puerto Grande, intending to leave the country on the next boat. Along the way, he is accosted by a beggar, who discovers a poster with the priest's photograph printed on it and pursues him. The beggar insists on accompanying the priest and, while the padre sleeps in a cave, drinks his consecrated wine. Unnerved by the beggar, the priest runs off and eventually arrives in Puerto Grande. As he is about to board a ship, however, a young boy asks him to say mass for his dying mother. Reluctantly the priest misses the boat to attend to the woman, but is unable to say mass because he has no wine, which is illegal. Accompanied by the boy, the priest sets out to buy wine on the black market and is soon negotiating with the governor's cousin. The cousin and a corrupt police sergeant insist that the priest join them for a drink, and before long, the bottle is emptied. In a panic, the priest grabs a bottle of brandy and rushes into the street, where he is caught by the police and jailed. Once again, the lieutenant fails to recognize the priest, and the governor's cousin sets him free. Having seen the hostage being marched to a firing squad, the priest returns to his village and is hounded by the beggar. Maria advises the priest to cross the mountains to safety but, exhausted, he falls asleep at the cantina where she works. When the police arrive, Maria dances for them to give the priest time to flee. The lieutenant, who is the father of Maria's child, then rides up and chases both the priest and Calvert into a corn field. Calvert engages the police in a gunfight, enabling the priest to escape to a sanctuary state while being wounded himself. Soon after, the beggar turns up with a note he claims was written by a dying Calvert, asking the priest to hear the criminal's confession. Although the priest doubts the beggar, he follows him back across the border. In his hideout, Calvert denies writing the note, and the priest is captured by the police. The lieutenant offers the priest his life on condition he renounce his faith, but the priest refuses. While being led to the firing squad, the priest tells the guilt-ridden beggar to give his ill-gotten money to the poor and faces his death with newfound courage. As the priest is shot, the lieutenant clutches his chest in repentant sorrow, unaware that back in the priest's church, another man of God has come to pray. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.