Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
The Chase (1966)
"Most likely they'll catch him and send him back and add to his sentence, and that's too bad because Bubber only had a few months to go. And I figured that Bubber isn't gonna… Well, he's got enough sense not to come back here, but if he calls, if you get in touch with him, you oughta try and talk him into going back."- Sheriff Calder (Marlon Brando)
Stars: Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda, Robert Redford, E.G. Marshall, Angie Dickinson
Other Stars: Janice Rule, Miriam Hopkins, Martha Hyer, Robert Duvall, Diana Hyland, Clifton James
Director: Arthur Penn
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult themes, violence)
Run Time: 02h:13m:43s
Release Date: 2004-02-24
DVD ReviewThe recipe for this film seems delicious, but The Chase is a perfect example of how a project can go wrong in Hollywood. Start with a hot director, Arthur Penn, on his way up. Add the writing talents of Horton Foote on the novel and Lillian Hellman on the screenplay. Mix in a cast of established stars and promising newcomers, stir well and you get... a bomb.
The film begins with the escape of two inmates from the state penitentiary. The older inmate kills and robs a traveling salesman, leaving the younger man alone on foot. The sheriff's office of a small Texas town receives a call that the local bad boy, Bubber Reeves (Redford), is one of the escapees. The news travels around town like wildfire as local residents all have reactions to Bubber's possible return. Vubber's wife, Anna (Fonda), is now having an affair with his former best friend, Jake (Fox). His mother and father bear the shame of being the parents of a convict. Sheriff Calder attempts to keep a lid on the cross currents of lust and betrayal that arise among the town's inhabitants as the long night goes on.
In the cast are Jane Fonda as Anna Reeves, following up her very popular performance in Cat Ballou, and Robert Redford, as Charlie "Bubber" Reeves, at a very early point in his distinguished career. The pair seem out of place in a gritty southern milieu and spend the entire movie as the most perfectly coifed white trash to ever hit the silver screen. E.G Marshall appears as local rich man Val Rogers, who seems to own almost everybody and everything in the town, in his return to the big screen following his run as Lawrence Preston in the television series, The Defenders. Angie Dickinson portrays the sheriff's wife and has some very nice scenes with American acting legend Marlon Brando, who is stolid, but has some interesting moments. His performance here is very much a textbook for Acting 101. As you watch the film, note how in every scene, he seems to be the only character doing anything. In his first appearance on the scene, Brando's Calder is cleaning his saddle. As he takes the phone from his deputy, he is wiping off the polish from his hands. Even though it is not a particularly challenging role for the actor, Brando was searching for a return to mainstream Hollywood at this point in his career, following a string of obscure roles. Brando was considered box office poison because of the dramatic failures of Mutiny on the Bounty in 1963 and the finger that was pointed directly toward him for its flaws. Following that, the actor who had received five Academy Award nominations and (one win) was reduced to a series of oddball and obscure roles that biographies have revealed to have been the result of bad business dealings. Although there are stories of his antics on the set, he gives a straightforward performance as a man who was forced to take a job as sheriff when the family farm was lost. The movie does include what seems to be an obligatory Brando beating, as local rednecks take out their frustrations on him in a long and bloody scene.
Other actors who portray their characters drawn in varying dimensions include Janice Rule and Robert Duvall as Edwin and Emily Stewart, James Fox and Diana Hyland as Jake and Elizabeth Rogers, character actor Henry Hull in his final film role as Briggs, and Jocelyn Brando, sister of Marlon, as his wife. Notable bit parts and cameos include Bruce Cabot, who was first mate John 'Jack' Driscoll in 1933's King Kong, as the bar owner Sol, a younger Clifton James (of Sheriff J.W. Pepper fame from James Bond films) appears as Lem, and a very young Paul Williams (yes, the singer) makes his film debut as Seymour.
It is difficult to really pinpoint what it is about The Chase that makes it far less than its potential. The acting is not terrible; there are some very good performances. The script is not terrible, although some characters are very cardboard and the plot is way too compressed. The direction by Penn seems very good, but this film comes off very poorly in comparison to his next project, the enduring classic, Bonnie and Clyde. Some have pointed to the usual excuse of the studio seizing control of the film, editing it to save money, and others have said that script re-writes led to a lack of focus for the final product.
With its tortured symbolism, attempts to tap into the civil rights changes that wracked the South in the sixties, and the altered sexual mores of the era, The Chase finally becomes a curiosity of another time, another way of thinking that could never quite be duplicated—and perhaps we are better for it.
Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C
|Aspect Ratio||2.35:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: It is good to see this film in its proper widescreen format, as director Penn uses some nice compositions that are ruined entirely in the full-frame version that has been seen over the years. The transfer is quite crisp although the film is very dark on occasion.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: The audio is remastered in Dolby Digital and sounds better than it ever has. Brando is still hard to make out and the music blares a bit, but otherwise it is quite listenable. The original sound design is not that memorable and there is really not much to work with, as far as it goes.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Japanese, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean with remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring In Cold blood, Mute Witness, Under Suspicion,
Extras Review: No extras for this edition of The Chase, despite the potential of the cast and the history of the film. Oh well, there are the trailers for other films that one might be interested in... which is something, I suppose.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsThe Chase is a southern potboiler that is mostly for fans of those involved, but probably not of interest otherwise. Not up to the level of William Faulkner or Tennessee Williams by any stretch, this film has a few intense moments, more than a few absurdities, and some bloody violence.
Jesse Shanks 2004-04-21