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Home » Culture and Criticism

Poppy-Fields Movie Couch Of Fame: The Fugitive

Submitted by on July 31, 2014 – 9:40 AM13 Comments

Photo: Warner Bros.

Our next PFM nominee comes from Bill D., and it’s a great one: The Fugitive.

Harrison Ford’s spluttered “Ppprrovasic” is one of my favorite things in film. What’s Bill D. got to say?

My favorite Poppy-Fields Movie has long been, and continues to be, The Fugitive. I’ve seen at least parts of it probably 100 times, but I still leave it on whenever I encounter it on cable (which is frequently). It’s the perfect background movie, but I’ll also still sit and watch it through to the end.

  • lengthy? A comfortable 2 hours and 10 minutes.
  • familiar/frequent? I think it’s been on cable every weekend for at least the last year. Ion seems to run the hell out of it.
  • classic/award-winner? Tommy Lee Jones’s well-deserved Best Supporting Actor win, but I also forgot that this [was nominated for] Best Picture (as well as Best Sound and Best Cinematography).
  • “Greetings, Professor Falken” (big payoff/long-shot victory a la WarGames)? “I didn’t kill my wife.” “I know it Richard. I know it.”
  • “Wanna have a catch?” (Pavlovian tear-jerk; anything with dads opens the ducts for this guy)? Not really any tear-jerking per se, but I always love when Gerard asks how the boy’s doing, and Julianne Moore says, “Saved his life.”
  • quote-fest? “I didn’t kill my wife!” / “I don’t care!”; “Where’s he going in an ambulance?”; “every henhouse, outhouse and doghouse” etc.
  • caper-ish or -adjacent camaraderie? It’s very satisfying to watch Kimble be such an excellent detective, with the fake ID, and tracking down the killer through his prosthesis, and the liver samples.
  • “forget you, melon farmer” (you own it, but will still watch bowdlerized TV verzh) Not a lot of cursing on this one, but I own the DVD and the Blu-ray and I’ve probably watched each once, versus the 8,000 times on TV (with commercials).

Thanks, Bill. I’m a hundred behind you on this; I love everything about this movie. The Chicaaaaago accent on the landlady’s son, the “hinky” conversation, “I’ll call the press” / “no press!” / “no press,” Krabbe as the villain — it’s solid entertainment. Great pacing, great performances, and a Hey, It’s That Guy!-fest of epic proportions.

Bill: You’ve won a shirt from the TN store; thanks so much for submitting.

Update, 8/25/14: I think this one’s a yes.

The Poppy-Fields Movie Couch Of Fame is here. To nominate your own PFM, email bunting at tomatonation dot com with a rundown of the criteria and your argument for why it deserves a cushion. If I use your entry, free loot shall be thine.




  • Sue says:

    My favorite parts are the discussion of the El train in the background of the recording, and Tommy Lee Jones’ repetition of “lad” from the newspaper article, and when he tells the kid to think him up a chocolate donut with sprinkles.

    So good. And actually filmed in Chicago (with only minor continuity issues).

  • Rae says:

    ‘Care to revise your statement, sir?’
    ‘Do you want to change your bullshit story, sir?’

    One of those movies I’ve seen about a hundred times as a kid with my parents and about a hundred times now that I’m an adult. I love all of it- the parade, the improbable jump off the dam, the goofy hat that one marshal wears when he goes undercover, the sweeping synth score.

    I also enjoy the Scrubs episode it inspired.

  • One of the unusual things about this movie is just how little dialogue Harrison Ford has, and yet he’s still able to carry the movie.

    Also, there’s been some revisionism thinking about how Jones didn’t deserve his award because (a) he’s given the same performance over and over again (as well as done it before), and (b) his competition deserved it more. I’ll grant his competition was terrific that year, and I would have been happy with any of them winning (though in a perfect world, Jones would have shared his award with Ralph Fiennes for Schindler’s List). But there’s more to Jones here than just the bluster. There’s the intelligence (also the fact his colleagues are smart as well; none of them hold the Idiot Ball, except maybe Newman for allowing himself to be taken hostage, and he’s relatively new), the fact he changes his mind about Kimble without telegraphing it to us (the closest is the scene Bill mentioned, when Julianne Moore tells Gerard Kimble saved the boy’s life; the expression on Gerard’s face speaks volumes), and the way he’s able to communicate how much he cares about his colleagues without being sentimental (as in my two favorite lines of the movie after “I don’t care”; “I…don’t…bargain” and “And don’t let them give you any shit about your ponytail”).

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    He can really wear a pair of Levi’s, too. Just saying.

  • Rbelle says:

    Love this one sooo much. I don’t have cable anymore, and I only own the VHS, so it’s been a while. But I would watch any part of this movie at any time. One of the things that gets me about it is that despite the sense of adventure, and ultimate justice, and everything exciting that comes from it, it’s still in its way unbearably sad. He’s vindicated at the end, but he still doesn’t have his wife, and she was still murdered in a brutally horrible way that he couldn’t save her from. I never stop wishing that the next time I watch it, he’ll get there in time and she *won’t* die.

    On a lighter note, I regularly respond (in my head) to the question “What are you doing?” with “Eatin’ oranges, and makin’ fake IDs).

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    “Every time I look in the mirror.”

  • Josh says:

    Oh, I still love this one so much. GREAT choice.

    I especially love the bit in the tunnel where they’re searching through the cars after they’ve pinned the ambulance in the tunnel and come up empty.

    “Whatdya got?”
    “I got nothin’ whatdya got?”
    “You gotta be kidding me! You gotta be kidding me!!!”


    Tommy Lee Jones and Harrison Ford own the movie, but the rest of the ensemble really lifts them. The late, great Andreas Katsulas as the one-armed man, Joey Pants being awesome, the criminally underrated Daniel Roebuck (“How about bullshit, Sam?”), man it’s a great bunch!

    This is one I can’t resist when it’s on, it almost always sucks me in.

  • attica says:

    Aww, I love Newman and his ponytail.

    It’s hard to remember, but Julianne Moore was still largely known as a soap actor back then.

    I’ve heard it said that Oscars are given more for the character than the performance. Which I think is true here. Gerard is awesome; Fiennes’s Goeth is horrid. Fiennes’s job was a bigger lift, undoubtedly, but: Gerard is awesome.

  • Sandman says:

    “And don’t let them give you any shit about your ponytail” is one of my favourite lines, too. So flinty and affectionate at the same time.

    It seemed like Jones had a bit of a Poppy Fields franchise going for a while. U.S. Marshalls isn’t in the same league, but the character in Double Jeopardy might as well be named Sam. I agree with Josh that the ensemble is uniformly strong, and makes the material work better than it ought to, maybe.

  • Cora says:

    It’s the little bits that are unneeded to move the plot but give the audience a sense of the characters’ no-diva policy, isn’t it? I’m thinking of when Kimble escapes into the tunnel sewer, and that self-important jerk with the potbelly and the mullet comes out of his truck all, “Whadda HELLZ goin on hyah?” and the squad is totally polite and businesslike in shutting him down.

  • bristlesage says:

    Middle-cushion, directly-in-front-of-the-tube, however-else-you-want-to-say-“first-ballot” no-doubter. YES.

  • Mingles' Mommy says:

    I fell madly in love with Tommy Lee Jones after this movie. MADLY :).

    In other news, it really is exceptionally well done on all levels.

  • DensityDuck says:

    The movie did also give us the bit in “Wrongfully Accused” where a diesel locomotive hides behind a tree to stalk Leslie Nielsen.

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