Fugitive, The: Special Edition of Actioner, Starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones in his Only Oscar Award Turn

Twenty years after it was made, The Fugitive is just as good as it was back then.

Andrew Davis’s big-screen adaptation of the 1960s TV series, created by Roy Huggins, is a thrilling and entertaining blockbuster, which succeeds on any number of levels.

Revisiting the movie two decades after it was made reveals how much the genre of action-adventure has changed, due to a series of technological innovations as well as audiences expectations of what constitutes a satisfying spectacle.

Among its many merits, the film has two strong characters and thus serves as a vehicle for two major actors: Star Harrison Ford, in one of his richest roles, and character actor Tommy Lee Jones, both well cast and in top form.

The Hitchcockian (wrongly accused man on the run) premise is rather simple: When Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford) is wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife, he escapes from custody. While setting out to prove his innocence, he is being relentlessly pursued by a team of U.S. Marshals, led by Deputy Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones ).

World premiering in late summer, the movie grossed over $368 million at the box office, a huge success considering its budget (rumored to be around $40 million).

Of all filmmakers who have worked with the very gifted Tommy Lee Jones, it was Andrew Davis who rescued him from obscurity and second-rate career in “The Package” (1989), which was followed by a stunning turn as the shadowy, decadent Clay Shaw in Oliver Stones’ controversial “JFK” (1991), for which he received his first Supporting Oscar nomination.

Lee Jones then brought panache to the mayhem in the actioner “Under Siege” (1992), again directed by Davis, in which he deliberately gave an over-the-top performance.

Andrew Davis was also responsible for casting Jones in his juiciest role to date in a film in which he is the motor that drive an implausible but engrossing tale.

Coolly malevolent, Jones gives a witty interpretation of a man who needed to be in command, underplaying the smart, sardonic investigator Gerard with strength and authority.

Jones eclipses the nominal hero, played by Harrison Ford, and won his first, Supporting Oscar. It was one of those borderline cases; Jones should have been nominated for a lead role, since he got co-star billing with Ford, and in fact has a larger part than Ford.

Mainstream Hollywood took notice and began casting Lee Jones in bigger pictures that made him more popular, but didn’t draw on his distinctive talent. He appeared in mindless actioners, such as “Blown Away” (1994), and in Joel Schumacher’s “The Client” (1994), in which the star was Susan Sarandon

Though he did not receive a Best Director nomination, this is undoubtedly Andrew Davis’ most fully-realized film to date.

Oscar Nominations: 7

Picture, produced by Arnold Kopelson
Supporting Actor: Tommy Lee Jones
Cinematography: Michael Chapman
Sound: Donald O. Mitchell, Michael Herbick, Frank A. Montano, and Scott D. Smith
Original Score: James Newton Howard
Film Editing: Dennis Virkler, David Einfer, Dean Goodhill, Don Brochu, Richard Nord, Dov Hoenig
Sound Effects Editing: John Leveque and Bruce Stanbler

Oscar Awards: 1

Supporting Actor

Oscar Context

The most nominated (12) picture in 1993, “Schindler’s List” competed for the top award with the action-adventure “The Fugitive (7 nominations), Jim Sheridan’s socially-conscious drama “In the Name of the Father” (7), Campion’s “The Piano” (8), and Merchant-Ivory production of “The Remains of the Day,” which, with 8 nods but o Oscars, became the biggest Oscar loser of the year.

Sweeping most of the Oscars, “Schindler’s List” won Picture, Director for Spielberg, Adapted Screenplay for Steven Zaillian, Cinematography for Janusz Kaminski, Score for John Williams, and Editing for Michael Kahn.

The Oscars for Sound and Sound Effects Editing honored the other film directed by Spielberg in 1993, “Jurassic Park.”