This film is completely mistitled; Brando, the sheriff of a small Texas town whose financial overlord is banker Marshall, does very little chasing after escaped con Redford. Wasted are Fonda, stepdaughter of gin-joint owner Cabot, and Duvall, the meek, cuckolded vice-president of
Marshall's bank. His wife, the slatternly, hip-swinging Rule, is having affairs with every male in town. Brando appears sporadically in his squad car to quell threats to blacks from the local bully-boy whites, a stupid spinning of wheels for a great talent. Redford is hardly seen at all as he
makes his way back to see his woman, Fonda, and to square scores in the hometown that railroaded him into prison. Much of the film dwells on a wife-swapping party where Rule just about rapes any available male; she plays a southern trollop with such verve and hokey abandon that her role becomes a
grotesque burlesque of the type. Dickinson is Brando's long-suffering spouse who encourages him to stand up to his sponsor, Marshall. The banker is hosting a party while Redford is running about in the dark and Brando is shooing drunks home. All Brando wants is to make enough money to buy back his
father's lost sharecropper's farm, an ambition that makes one doubt his sanity. "I hate this job," he constantly moans to Dickinson, who nags him about having children. "I ain't raisin' no children over a jail," he snarls. Of course, he is the only decent white person in town, and one isn't too
sure that the unseen Redford isn't better than he is. When Brando bucks Marshall, the banker's goons show up and beat the sheriff to a bloody pulp. Redford finally shows up to meet with Fonda and Fox, the latter being his onetime friend who covets Fonda in a friendly manner and resents his
father's (Marshall's) power and money. The three are caught in the town junkyard by Marshall's bullies who shoot into the wrecked cars and hurl Molotov cocktails at the fugitive. Fox is killed and Redford is brought to the local jail by Brando, but the fugitive is murdered on the jail steps by a
thug whom Brando pulverizes. Brando and Dickinson leave town the next day, utterly disillusioned by the corrupt humanity surrounding them.
THE CHASE is a terrible disappointment, a jumbled, disjointed film directed feebly by Penn, whose talents have been overrated--as was his so-called masterpiece, BONNIE AND CLYDE. It is a production without purpose or basic interest, since its characters are so stereotyped as to be predictable
before each line is spoken or step taken. It is OUR TOWN gone wrong, but the corrupting elements are so fragmentary and ill-presented that there is no sense of jeopardy or apprehension. Redford was so little used that he had to introduce himself to fellow cast members every time he set foot on the
set. He met director Penn only a few times, spending most of his time running through rice fields in Chico, California, with a second unit recording his on-the-run exploits. Penn later denounced the film, complaining that producer Spiegel barred him from participating in the final editing and that
Spiegel interfered with the production from beginning to end. He was to say: "I have never made a film under such unspeakable conditions. I was used merely to move the actors around like horses." And it shows, swayback horses and all.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: This film is completely mistitled; Brando, the sheriff of a small Texas town whose financial overlord is banker Marshall, does very little chasing after escaped con Redford. Wasted are Fonda, stepdaughter of gin-joint owner Cabot, and Duvall, the meek, cuc… (more)