Simmering Southern Tensions Power “The Chase”

Powerhouse Films presents The Chase on limited edition dual format DVD & Blu-ray with a 4k restoration of the original negative and an array of excellent, never before seen special features…

This is a plot line has been told a million times but never with actors. Featuring Robert Redford in a supporting role alongside Jane Fonda, Marlon Brando and Robert Duvall, The Chase is social cinema made during a period of civil unrest in America. Primarily filmed at night by legendary director Arthur Penn who had already directed Warren Beatty in Mickey One, it is anchored by an understated Marlon Brando performance.

Playing Sheriff Calder he is the single bastion of authority in a town slowly descending into anarchy. Civil rights undertones, rumblings around American involvement in Vietnam and Martin Luther King’s civil rights movement all feed into The Chase. There is a sultry Southern, tension-fuelled backdrop to this simple story of an escaped convict returning home. Featuring a very young James Fox, it is, however, Brando that your eye goes to whenever he is on screen. Allegorical scenes of old and new generations living side by side feel spoon fed and slow, but those moments between Brando, Fox, Fonda and Redford carry this film beyond the conventional.

Already pegged as a future star, Redford is underused but literally fills the screen. Fonda similarly works hard as Redford’s convict love interest in a role done sometime after Barbarella and before Klute. Her ability to convey character is perfectly in tune with Fox and Redford, while she holds her own against a towering but subtle Brando. Physicality, presence and quiet confidence form the bedrock of Sheriff Calder, while issues of racism and social unrest are all addressed within this powder keg piece of cinema.

Hidden away within the special features is a conversation with Penn who laments how his film was eventually cut. He claims that great moments of acting were left on the cutting room floor which gave Brando’s performance more breadth. Only having a chance to see The Chase after eight reels had already been edited, Penn is visibly upset by the creative slight inflicted on him by producer Sam Spiegel. An essential insight that ultimately points to The Chase’s flaws.

It is a film filled with truly great actors giving good performances yet it feels rudderless. Scenes in the junk yard are overly long and resolutions noticeably fragmented meaning that tension diminishes. This only lasts for ten minutes but nonetheless detracts from what came before. Beyond that each of these characters irrespective of screen time or star power are given ample development. Each has an agenda, all have other intentions and care little for the disruptions caused. Worth watching for key performances as well as minor character moments, The Chase represents a forgotten gem, both topical, potent and socially important as a snapshot of America during this time.

the chase, four stars, film review, Top 10 Films

Written by Martin Carr

Directed by: Arthur Penn
Written by: Lillian Hellman
Starring: Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda, Robert Redford, E. G. Marshall, Angie Dickinson
Released: 1966 / Genre: Drama
Country: USA / IMDB

More reviews: Latest | Archive

Top 10 Films reviewed The Chase courtesy of Powerhouse Films. The film was released September 25 on limited edition DVD and Blu-ray formats.

Powerhouse Films’ Indicator Limited Edition Dual Format release provides a pleasing 4k restoration of the original negative alongside some excellent special features including an audio commentary with film historians Lem Dobbs, Julie Kirgo, and Nick Redman and previously unseen interview footage from Paul Joyce’s documentary Marlon Brando: The Wild One. Filmmaker, writer and television personality Richard Ayoade also conducts a brand new interview with James Fox about The Chase. A new interview with director Arthur Penn’s son and a presentation of the super 8 version of the film is also included.

About the Author
Film blogger. Writer. Novelist. Singer. Living the dream. Isle of Wight based. Chipping away at the rockface. Leaving a mark...well trying anyway... See More at:

Related Posts

Leave a Reply