Most everyone in town thinks that Sheriff Calder is merely a puppet of rich oil-man Val Rogers. When it is learned that local baddie Bubba Reeves has escaped prison, Rogers\' son is concerned because he is having an affair with Reeves\' wife. It seems many others in town feel they may have reasons to fear Reeves. Calder\'s aim is to bring Reeves in alive, unharmed. Calder will have to oppose the powerful Rogers on one hand and mob violence on the other, in his quest for justice.
Marlon Brando ... Sheriff Calder
Jane Fonda ... Anna Reeves
Robert Redford ... Charlie \'Bubber\' Reeves
E.G. Marshall ... Val Rogers
Angie Dickinson ... Ruby Calder
Janice Rule ... Emily Stewart
Miriam Hopkins ... Mrs. Reeves
Martha Hyer ... Mary Fuller
Richard Bradford ... Damon Fuller
Robert Duvall ... Edwin Stewart
James Fox ... Jason \'Jake\' Rogers
Diana Hyland ... Elizabeth Rogers
Henry Hull ... Briggs
Jocelyn Brando ... Mrs. Briggs
Katherine Walsh ... Verna Dee
\"The Chase\" is a powerful and underrated drama. It has most of the ingredients that are required for a solid dramatic picture: exceptional acting (particularly by Brando), careful directing, well-drawn characters and good production values. The first half meanders a little, but in the second half the tension mounts and the film becomes constantly more and more involving and moving. So why does it have such a low reputation? Maybe because of all those reported production problems. But who cares? They\'re certainly not evident in the film! Recommended for mature viewers.
With all of the talent involved in the making of \"The Chase\" you would think that you would have had a better picture. Based on Horton Foote\'s play of the same name and adapted for the screen by no less than Lillian Helman, Director Arthur Penn gives us nothing but an expensive soap opera where everyone is either \"loving thy neighbor\", a drunk or both.
The story centers around the escape from prison of \"Bubber\" Reeves (Robert Redford) and the lives he affects as he makes his way back to his home town. His wife Anna (Jane Fonda) has taken up with rich man\'s son Jake Rogers (James Fox). Rogers father Val (E.G. Marshall) is the town banker and the richest man in town. His two vice presidents the milquetoast Edwin Stewart (Robert Duvall) and flamboyant Damon Fuller (Richard Bradford) court his favor. Stewart\'s wife Emily (Janice Rule) is having an affair with Fuller, while fuller\'s wife Mary (Martha Hyer) is a boozy flirt.
On his birthday he and his ditsy wife (Diana Hyland) host a party. The town sheriff, Calder (Marlon Brando) and his wife Ruby (Angie Dickenson are invited. Across town Stewart is hosting a party of his own. Word comes down that Bubber has escaped and is headed towards town and may have committed a murder. Everyone begins to scramble.
Bubber\'s parents (Miriam Hopkins, Malcolm Atterbury) ask where did we go wrong? Town snoop Briggs (Henry Hull) and his wife (Jocelyn Brando) stroll around town laying a guilty conscience upon the town.
Calder tries to keep order and find Bubber before the trigger happy town rednecks, Fuller, Lem (Clifton James) and Archie (Steve Ihnat) do. Anna and Jake examine their own situation and agree to help Bubber escape if they can. Val Rogers tries to win his son back. Finally Bubber reaches town and....................................
Brando mumbles his way through yet another role. Although he is beholding to Val Rogers, we are never sure why. Dickenson in a colorless role, is wasted as Brando\'s wife. Fonda and Redford were just hitting the big time and would star together in \"Barefoot in the Park\" the following year. Redford to me, is just not convincing as a hardened criminal. Duvall as well, was just emerging and would go on to appear with Brando in \"The Godfather\" (1972).
Miriam Hopkins gives the best performance in the film as Bubber\'s guilt laden mother. She has a powerful scene with Brando where she begs him not to hurt her son. Others in the cast include Bruce Cabot as Sol, Anna\'s stepfather and ex \"B\" cowboy star Monte Hale, Grady Sutton, Eduardo Cianelli and Ralph Moody in smaller roles. Jocelyn Brando was the sister of Marlon.
The Chase has one of the best casts ever assembled. At least three generations of Hollywood are represented here from Miriam Hopkins and Henry Hull, to Marlon Brando and Angie Dickinson, and finally to up and coming stars like Robert Redford and Jane Fonda. I\'m still trying to figure what all the fuss was about.
The film opens with the luckless Robert Redford escaping from a Texas prison with another convict who murders a passing motorist and then takes off stranding Redford. He\'s guilty even if he didn\'t do the actual killing.
Poor Bob has no luck, his wife Jane Fonda is not staying faithful and true, but she\'s been carrying on with James Fox, the son of the local kingpin E.G. Marshall.
Marlon Brando is the sheriff who people think takes his marching orders from Marshall. He\'d like to bring in Redford alive, but for reasons I\'m still trying to figure out, everybody has this real hatred for Redford and no one talks of anything else. It all ends rather badly for a few of the cast.
Arthur Penn directed Lillian Hellman wrote the screenplay and with the cast they assembled you\'d think something better would have emerged. Brando who sometimes is accused of mumbling his lines, does so with a vengeance and looks bored and the rest of the cast follows suit.
I don\'t think Marlon Brando\'s most devoted fans would particularly like this one. Skip it by if it\'s broadcast unless you\'re a stargazer like me.
* The casting director rejected Faye Dunaway, telling her she wasn\'t pretty enough for movies and should stick to theater.
* Producer \'Sam Spiegel (I) had acquired the property that became \"The Chase\" in the 1950s and wanted Marlon Brando originally to play the role of Jason \'Jake\' Rogers and Marilyn Monroe to play his lover, Anna Reeves. By the time production began in 1965, Brando was too old to play the role of the son, and took the part of Sheriff Calder instead. Brando was paid $750,000 and his production company Pennebaker was paid a fee of $130,000. (Brando\'s sister Jocelyn Brando also was cast in the small role of Mrs. Briggs).
* Producer Sam Spiegel was quite fond of Brando, who had won his first Best Actor Oscar in the Spiegel-produced Best Picture winner On the Waterfront (1954), according to his biographer Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni. When casting Brando in \"The Chase\", Spiegel was worried that Marlon, a motorcycle enthusiast, would wind up killing himself like James Dean had, in an accident. (Brando had badly lacerated his knee while biking before filming began.) Spiegel constantly queried \"Chase\" director Arthur Penn as to whether Brando had brought his motorbike with him to the filming. When Brando got wind of this, he had his motorcycle brought over to the set to play a joke on Spiegel, who quickly arrived at the shooting to see that Brando didn\'t drive it. When Spiegel found out it was all a joke, the normally taciturn producer laughed heartily.
* Marlon Brando did not like the part of Sheriff Calder, and complained that all he did in the picture was wander around. He began referring to himself as \"The Old Lamplighter\".
* Producer Sam Spiegel wanted Peter O\'Toole, who had had to sign a 7-year contract with Spiegel to get the part of T.E. Lawrence in Spiegel\'s Oscar-winning Lawrence of Arabia (1962), to play the part of Jake, but he turned it down. O\'Toole, who was furious that his contract with Spiegel prevented him from accepting the lead role in \"Lawrence of Arabia\" director David Lean\'s production of Boris Pasternak\'s Doctor Zhivago (1965), thought the screenplay was a \"ghastly\" \"lifts-the-lid-of\" potboiler akin to Grace Metalious\'s Peyton Place (1957). James Fox was signed to the role after he proved he could play a Texas accent.
* Producer Sam Spiegel brought Lillian Hellman into the project, but had her script rewritten. He then refused to show her a final cut before the film\'s release. He was also responsible for signing the then relatively unknown Robert Redford as Bubber and lighting cameraman Joseph LaShelle, who replaced Robert Surtees after he dropped out due to illness. The Academy Award winner Lashelle and director Arthur Penn, who was not consulted by Spiegel, did not have a harmonious working relationship, which Penn thought hurt the film. Later, Spiegel did not allow Penn to edit the film himself, which Penn believed ruined the rhythm of the film, which he had wanted to suggest hysteria. Released with great expectations due to all the talent involved, \"The Chase\" proved a critical and financial disappointment and signaled the beginning of the end of Spiegel\'s success as a film producer.