The Fugitive 1993 one sheet poster image courtesy Heritage Auction Galleries
Director Andrew Davis and Warner Bros. delivered The Fugitive to movie theaters in 1993. Harrison Ford has the title role, with Tommy Lee Jones as his dogged U.S. Deputy Marshal pursuer.
Harrison Ford Stars in The Fugitive
The Fugitive is loosely based on the popular 1963-67 television series starring David Janssen as Dr. Richard Kimble. Created by Roy Huggins, The Fugitive produced 120 hour-long episodes, culminating in the riveting final two-parter “The Judgment,” in which Kimble confronts the one-armed man he had seen leaving his house on the night of his wife’s murder.
Jeb Stuart and David Twohy wrote The Fugitive for Warner Bros. Pictures. Chicago-born Andrew Davis (Above the Law, The Package, Collateral Damage) directed. James Newton Howard created the original music score and Michael Chapman served as cinematographer.
Harrison Ford (Dr. Richard Kimble) and Tommy Lee Jones (Sam Gerard) head the cast. Other players include Sela Ward (Helen Kimble), Julianne Moore (Dr. Anne Eastman), Joe Pantoliano (Cosmo Renfro), Andreas Katsulas (Frederick Sykes), Jeroen Krabbe (Dr. Charles Nichols), Daniel Roebuck (Biggs), L. Scott Caldwell (Poole), Tom Wood (Newman), Andy Romano (Judge Bennett), LaTanya Richardson (Savannah Cooper), Nick Searcy (Sheriff Rawlins), Dick Cusack (Walter Gutherie), Neil Flynn (Transit Cop), Gene Kelly (U.S. Marshal) and Mark D. Espinoza (Resident). Also look for Roland Burris, currently a United States senator representing Illinois, who goes unbilled as Smiling Black Man in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
The Fugitive Filmed in Illinois and North Carolina
Budgeted at $44 million, The Fugitive was filmed from February to May 1993. North Carolina locations included scenic Chenoa Dam (Tapoco), Great Smoky Mountains Railroad (Dillsboro), Blue Ridge Parkway (Blue Ridge Mountains) and the towns of Sylva and Bryson City. Illinois locations encompassed the town of Chester in the southern part of the state and a number of Chicago locations, including the Four Seasons Hotel, Richard J. Daley Memorial Plaza, Cook County Jail, City Hall, Cook County Hospital, Chicago Hilton & Towers, Merrill C. Meigs Field, University of Chicago and the 203 N. LaSalle Street Building.
The most difficult scene to shoot was the train accident sequence in Dillsboro, North Carolina. The oncoming train hit the prison bus at 42 miles an hour – slightly more than the 35 mph as originally anticipated – with the ensuing crash delivering one of the movie’s big special effects highlights.
Also impressive was the $2 million dam sequence, shot in two days, in which a cornered Richard Kimble takes a spectacular leap into the rushing waters below. Warner Bros. forked over a large fee to Alcoa, who operated the Chenoa Dam in North Carolina, for use of their fine facility. The Harrison Ford lookalike dummies crafted for the stunt weren’t cheap either, costing $7,000-12,000 each. Also employed were two U.S. Navy SEALS, used as consultants, who watched over Harrison Ford as he tread water following the dummy launch.
The Fugitive: I Didn’t Kill My Wife!
Dr. Richard Kimble, a prominent Chicago surgeon convicted of killing his wife, is on his way to death row. The bus carrying Kimble and his fellow prisoners is blindsided by an oncoming train, with an injured Kimble fleeing the chaotic scene.
Now on the lam, Kimble shaves his beard and dyes his gray hair, returning to Chicago where he hopes to locate the mysterious one-armed man he struggled with on the night of his wife’s murder. Pursuing Kimble is U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard and his team, who track Kimble as he travels around the Windy City.
The trail eventually leads to the one-armed Frederick Sykes, a former police officer who is involved with one of Kimble’s friends and co-workers, Dr. Charles Nichols. Dr. Nichols had faked the trial results for a new drug called Provasic in order to win FDA approval, with Kimble now in possession of that knowledge. Kimble later confronts Dr. Nichols at a medical symposium while the Chicago Police, believing that Kimble has killed a transit cop during his struggle with Sykes aboard an el train, have orders to shoot the fugitive on sight.
The Fugitive Release and Reviews
The Fugitive was released with great fanfare on August 6, 1993.
“Andrew Davis’ The Fugitive is one of the best entertainments of the year, a tense, taut and expert thriller that becomes something more than that, an allegory about an innocent man in a world prepared to crush him,” reported Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times (8/6/93).
Film Analysis: The Fugitive Cult
For those who like their action thrillers with a bit of cerebral humor, The Fugitive is just the motion picture. It’s a modern, high tech version of the cult TV series of the same name, with winding twists and turns punctuating Harrison Ford’s manic search for a one-armed man and the truth behind his wife’s murder.
Ford is outstanding as the frantic Dr. Richard Kimble, a victim of blind justice who is granted a reprieve of sorts when the prison bus taking him to death row is waylaid at a train crossing. Tommy Lee Jones excels in the “big dog” role as U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard, tossing out sarcastic one-liners while leading his troops in an all-out search for Kimble.
Windy City locations enhance the production, including an unscripted chase on Dearborn Street during the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Harrison Ford dons a green derby, turns up his coat collar and marches in the festivities as Tommy Lee Jones and his boys frantically scan the crowd.
The Fugitive Box Office, Oscar Nominations, Notes, DVD
- The Fugitive grossed $183.875 million at the American box office, earning the #3 spot on the list of the top moneymaking films of 1993.
- Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Jones, won), Best Cinematography, Best Original Music Score, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Effects.
- Alec Baldwin declined the role of Richard Kimble.
- Bernice Janssen, the mother of David Janssen (1931-1980), appears as a spectator in the courtroom scene where Kimble is found guilty.
- Tommy Lee Jones reprised his role of Sam Gerard in U.S. Marshals (1998).
- On DVD: The Fugitive/U.S. Marshals (Warner, 2007).
Harrison Ford: “I didn’t kill my wife!”
Tommy Lee Jones: “I don’t care!”
Run with the “big dog,” and don’t miss The Fugitive…