The Fugitive (1947)

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A Fugitive: I have a question, Lieutenant. When did you lose your faith?

 A Lieutenant of Police: When I found a better one.

The film For Greater Glory has reminded me of director John Ford’s forgotten The Fugitive (1947).  Very loosely based on Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory (no priest in an American film in 1947 was going to have the moral failings of Greene’s whiskey priest) the film did poorly at the box office and soon fell into oblivion, except among film critics who regard it as one of Ford’s more interesting works.  Ford said it was  his favorite film.

The film is set in a nameless country, obviously Mexico where the movie was filmed, where religion has been abolished by the government.  Henry Fonda is the last priest hunted by a police lieutenant, played maniacally by Pedro Armendáriz.  Armendariz is a whole-hearted convert to atheism, and views the capture of Fonda as a noble task.  

Henry Fonda is executed at the end, betrayed by a police informer who summons him to provide the last rites to a dying man.  The police lieutenant who has pursued him throughout the film cannot bring himself to view his execution.  The people of the village react with profound grief at the death of the last priest, and it is obvious that the execution has done nothing to kill their faith in God.   A new priest arrives immediately after the execution, which has killed a man but not the Church.

All in all, an interesting film.  However, I wish Ford’s main leading man, John Wayne, had been cast in the role of the fugitive priest.  While he is on the run he rounds up a hard riding band of Cristeros.  In the climactic fight scene he leads the Cristeros in liberating the village, taking out the police lieutenant in a mano a mano epic fight, and ends the film saying mass for the newly liberated villagers!  Whatever the critics might have said in after years about the film, I guarantee it would have been a smash hit at the box office!

7 Responses to The Fugitive (1947)

  • Yeah, this is the film I meant! It’s got some gorgeous, gorgeous scenes in it.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen the beginning of the movie, though, because TCM was always airing it at weird times.

  • “All in all, an interesting film. However, I wish Ford’s main leading man, John Wayne, had been cast in the role of the fugitive priest. While he is on the run he rounds up a hard riding band of Cristeros. In the climactic fight scene he leads the Cristeros in liberating the village, taking out the police lieutenant in a mano a mano epic fight, and ends the film saying mass for the newly liberated villagers! Whatever the critics might have said in after years about the film, I guarantee it would have been a smash hit at the box office!”

    Yea, Donald, and I wish that Mel Gibson would have had the lead in The Passion and led the apostles and his followers in a violent revolt against the Romans like in Braveheart and instead of being captured and killed at the end he would have cut off all their heads like he and Homer Simpson cut off the heads of all the other senators when they remade Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

    With all your militaristic ramblings Donald . . . do you get the point of the Gospels.

  • Glinda, how long have you suffered the dreadful malady of being humor impaired, and have you sought treatment for this grave affliction?

  • Glinda,

    What you write about what happened during Christ’s first coming is absolutely correct. Below is what is going to happen when He comes again, and it is going to make the Cristeros’ rebellion against an evil and vicious atheist dictator look like a child’s game of Cowboys and Indians. Buckle up, “baby”, because the wrath of God is going to come. He will not indefinitely tolerate baby murdering to the tune of 1 million per year in this country, and the heretical nuns who give assent and approval for the same. His justice is the other side of the coin whose head is love; and He loves babies, He loves His Church, He loves righteousness and holiness.

    11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:

    KING OF KINGS AND
    LORD OF LORDS.

    17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, 18 that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.”

    19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.

    Revelation 19:11-21 [ Did you read that, Glinda? - it's agonna be horrible because that's what sin does. ]

  • Mr. McClarey, thanks for the heads-up. I’d never heard of this film before,
    and I’ll be sure to check it out.

  • I think you will enjoy it Clinton. It is a film that is worthy of careful examination since, at least in my case, there are nuances that flew right by me the first few times I watched it.

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