Review: The Chase

Blu-ray & DVD: The Chase (1966)

Bubber Reeves (Robert Redford) and another more violent prisoner, escape from jail, and while escaping the other prisoner kills a local policeman, pinning the blame on Bubber. In the town Bubber comes from lives ‘honest’ Sheriff Calder (Marlon Brando), and his wife Ruby (Angie Dickinson). Bubber’s wife Anna (Jane Fonda) also continues to reside above the bar her stepfather owns. Anna is having an affair with Bubber’s best friend and son of local millionaire businessman Val Rogers (E.G Marshall).

What an odd film The Chase is, chock full of A list film stars, with a famous Director (Arthur Penn) and produced by Sam Spiegel (who apart from being well known for his films is also equally well known for sticking his tongue down starlets throats and threatening to ruin their careers if they didn’t fuck him). Yet is it relatively unknown, and at the time of its cinema release in 1966 seen as a total disaster.

However, despite having a few gaping plot holes and a bit of a weird ‘how come they didn’t get arrested’? vibe, this is a really interesting film. At the time of filming Brando was well known to be totally fed up with Hollywood and acting and just wanted to cause problems for any contractual films he had to make. But his performance is a real ‘powerhouse’, in one scene he is beaten by 3 drunk men and in all honestly it’s difficult to watch as it’s so realistic.

The townspeople, mainly made up of white blue collar workers, including hostile and horrible Emily Stewart (Janice Rule), who openly ruts and rubs herself against an almost demonically racist Damon Fuller (Richard Bradford) in front of her husband, Edwin (Robert Duvall).They are all having affairs with each other and seem to be constantly pissed, and on finding out Bubber has escaped, they wait like a pack of rabid animals for his return so they can kill him. It’s never explained why…why do the town hate Bubber with such vehemence?

We also see the posh part of town, including ‘honourable’ Sheriff Calder at Val Rogers’s birthday party, where his son Jake (James Fox) leave early to see his lover, and Bubber’s wife Anna. She loves him; she blames him for holding his love from her, forcing her to marry Bubber. He’s rich, she’s poor. How will they tell Bubber? Will he actually care? Robert Redford, probably one of the biggest stars of that time… is absent for long periods onscreen.

Back in the town at Edwin’s impromptu party, the drinking and quarreling intensify, and surprisingly for 1966 three men from the party, led by Fuller, racially and physically abuse two separate black men, and considering what was actually happing in America at the time of filming, I find this not only astonishing but incredibly brave of the film makers to make this an integral part of the film.

Bubber sneaks into town, hiding in an auto junkyard. Anna and Jake set out to help him get away from the town, but literally all the townspeople follow, turning the event into a drunken revelry and setting the junkyard on fire, causing an explosion which mortally wounds Jake. A LOT happens in this film, not all of it makes sense, for example, why did Bubber want to escape? And some of it is quite strange, like the absence of the star, the fact that 3 townsmen can do whatever they want with no recriminations and the overall immaturity of all the characters to the point of annoyance, excluding the sheriff and his wife. But I did enjoy it, even at 2 hrs 15 minutes and a few plot holes, it held my attention.

What adds to the experience of this film is the fantastic extras in this package. I haven’t heard the commentary but the documentaries viewed after the film added another layer to the ‘meaning’ of it, while the interview with James Fox on the making of the film is particularly interesting.

    • 4K restoration from the original negative
    • Original mono audio
    • Audio commentary with film historians Lem Dobbs, Julie Kirgo, and Nick Redman
    • Step Back and Let Him Go: Arthur Penn on ‘The Chase’ (1996, 26 mins): previously unseen interview footage from Paul Joyce’s documentary Marlon Brando: The Wild One
    • Cut to ‘The Chase’ (2017, 24 mins): a new interview with renowned actor James Fox, conducted by Richard Ayoade
    • Matthew Penn on ‘The Chase’ (2017, 9 mins): a new interview with director Arthur Penn’s son
    • Super 8 version: original cut-down home cinema presentation
    • Isolated Score: experience John Barry’s original soundtrack music
    • Original theatrical trailer
    • Image gallery: on-set and promotional photography
    • New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
    • Limited edition exclusive booklet with a new essay by Christina Newland, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and historic articles on the film
    • UK premiere on Blu-ray
    • Limited Dual Format Edition of 3,000 copies

The Chase is released on 25th September 2017 and you can buy it by clicking HERE. ALL money raised by purchasing from Amazon via our website is given back to our listeners and followers in upcoming competition prizes. The more people buy, the bigger our prizes!

Review by Tina (co-host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Powerhouse Films.