The Fugitive (1993) Poster

(1993)

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  • Noted Chicago surgeon Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford), wrongly convicted of brutally murdering his wife Helen (Sela Ward), escapes during transport and attempts to elude U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard () while trying to prove his innocence and find the one-armed man who really killed his wife.

  • The Fugitive (1963) was a TV series that ran from 1963-1967. It was created by American writer Roy Huggins [1914-2002]. It was rumored that Huggins based the show on the real-life story of Sam Sheppard, a doctor who was accused of murdering his wife and spent 10 years in the Ohio Penitentiary before his conviction was overturned, but Huggins has denied basing his series on Sheppard's case. Huggins has also said the series was loosely inspired by Les Miserables, with Kimble as the Jean Valjean character and Gerard as the Javert character. In fact, the name "Gerard" was chosen to be phonetically similar to Javert. The TV series was adapted for this movie by American screenwriters David Twohy and Jeb Stuart.

  • (1) The only fingerprints found on the gun belonged to Kimble, and his fingerprints were on the bullets that killed Helen. Kimble admits to owning the gun when questioned by the police. (2) Kimble's skin was found under Helen's fingernails. It was left there when she scratched him while he was trying to move her, presumably to put her in a better position to administer CPR. (3) There was no forced entry into the house like a burglar or murderer would have done to get inside. (4) Kimble himself is the sole beneficiary of Helen's life insurance policy. The police mention this fact to him during the questioning, but it isn't mentioned in the brief court scene. (5) The 9-1-1 call Helen made, which was recorded by the emergency service and was also recorded by the killer on the phone that Helen used to make the call. The prosecution is able to convince the jury that when Helen says, "There's someone in my house...Richard...he's trying to kill me," that she was talking about (not to) her husband.

  • No. Although Helen does say "Richard" during the 9-1-1 call, she was actually calling out to her husband to help her, perhaps having heard him just entering the house. Some have suggested that the One-Armed Man, Frederick Sykes (Andreas Katsulas), allowed her to make the call and may even have forced her to say Richard's name. Still, it's easy to see how the courts would think differently from the call.

  • In one of the commentaries, the director said there was a scene that was cut where Kimble goes into a drug store and buys the hair dye. They cut it because they figured most people would assume he bought it somewhere on the way to the truck stop.

  • Because it's true. Gerard's job is to catch fugitives, not to figure out their guilt or innocence. That's for the courts. He doesn't care that Kimble is innocent or not, he just needs to capture him. At this point, Kimble has only been missing for several hours. Gerard doesn't know what Kimble is innocent and has no reason to suspect that he is. Kimble plead not guilty at trial, but that's meaningless. By definition, anyone who actually goes to trial pleads not guilty. As a law enforcement officer, Gerard is probably well aware of guilty people who falsely claim innocence, especially prisoners. Gerard only begins to question Kimble's guilt later on, when Kimble has returned to Chicago. Gerard realizes that Kimble is taking crazy risks to look into aspects of his case. For a guilty man this would make no sense, and it gets Gerard wondering whether Kimble might actually be wrongly convicted.

  • She was just a nameless good Samaritan who offered him a ride. The very next scene has the Marshalls going to apprehend someone and commenting that "he's shacked up with a woman". The audience is meant to think they're talking about Kimble and the woman, but they're actually talking about another of the escapees. The scene with the driver picking him up is thus supposed to be a red herring.

  • As Kimble steps out of the line and starts walking away from the parade, you can see that the man walking next to him is carrying the coat in his left hand.

  • Joel (Joel Robinson)'s actual problem is never explained in the movie. The best guess, made by some viewers with medical training, is that he had a tear in his aorta. A tear like this would cause blood to spill into the chest cavity, causing severe breathing difficulties. The diagnosis of an aortic tear is further supported on the sheet where Kimble changes Joel's diagnosis. It appears to say "Depress Chest w/Poss FX" (fracture), and the diagram on the same sheet appears to say "Chest Trauma Poss Fx Sternum." When Kimble changes the order, he begins with the letters "AO" which are the first two letters of "aorta." An aortic tear requires immediate surgery. With all the havoc going on in the emergency room at the time, Kimble was probably afraid that no one would diagnose the problem correctly and get Joel into the OR in time to save him. While he watches the doctor examining Joel, Kimble mutters "Check the film...". He saw that the doc wasn't looking closely enough at the x-ray and misdiagnosed the boy. This diagnosis of a tear in the aorta is supported in the novelization.

  • Because he was beginning to suspect that Provasic, the new wonder drug being developed by the Devlin MacGregor Pharmaceutical Company, was not so wonderful at all. Kimble was seeing more and more of the patients in the Provasic research program coming to surgery with severely damaged livers. The very night of Helen's murder, in fact, Kimble was called to perform surgery on yet another Provasic patient. The claim that the drug worked with no side effects, which Kimble was going to challenge, would have halted the release of the drug for general use and cost the drug company millions.

  • By checking the hospital records he gets a list of men who had the same type of prosthetic that Helen's killer did. He then methodically tracks down and eliminates the men as suspects. When he breaks into Syke's apartment he recognizes Sykes as the killer from a photograph. Checking through Syke's things he sees paychecks from Devlin MacGregor and photos of Sykes with Lantz, a doctor who Kimble knew was working on Provasic. This causes Kimble to remember how much Devlin MacGregor was pushing Provasic and about his own discovery that Provasic may have been causing liver failure. Since he and Helen had no other connection to Sykes, he surmises that Provasic was the reason for the murder attempt.

  • Kimble walks into the conference room where Nichols is speaking about the virtues of Provasic. Kimble confronts Nichols with the fact that he changed the liver samples after Lentz died (he was the only one with access). As Nichols leaves the room, Kimble says to the crowd, "He falsified his research so that RDU-90 could be approved and Devlin MacGregor could give you Provasic." Kimble pursues Nichols onto the roof. A fight ensues, and they both end up falling through a skylight and landing on an elevator, which starts to descend. Nichols comes to consciousness before Kimble and stops the elevator on the laundry floor. Just as the elevator door is closing, Kimble shoves his hand through, opens it, and follows. Gerard and Deputy Cosmo (Joe Pantoliano) follow the elevator to the laundry room, looking for Kimble. Nichols hits Cosmo with a swinging girder, Cosmo goes down on the floor, and Nichols takes his gun. Now it's just Kimble, Gerard, and Nichols. Gerard calls out to Kimble that he knows Kimble is innocent and that it was Sykes who killed his wife. When Nichols steps out from cover and aims the gun at Gerard, Kimble hits Nichols with a pipe, and he's out for the count. Gerard puts down his gun, and he and Kimble look at each other. "They killed my wife," Kimble says, and Gerard replies, "I know it, Richard. I know it...but it's over now. Whew! You know, I'm glad. I need the rest." In the next scene, Cosmo is being wheeled out on a gurney, talking about taking a holiday. Gerard leads Kimble, who is handcuffed, to a squad car while the reporters fire off questions. When they're in the car, Gerard takes the handcuffs off Kimble and hands him an icepack. Kimble says, "I thought you didn't care." Gerard laughs, and says, "I don't. Don't tell anybody, ok?" The car drives off. The end.

  • In the novelization, it was stated that Sykes killed Lentz. However, it's not explained in the movie whether Lentz was murdered or he died in a real accident. All we know from a scene where Cosmo is looking over Lentz's background, is that he was driving along Lake Shore Drive when a speeding car sent Lentz into Lake Michigan. The important thing is that, on the day Lentz died, all of the fake tissue samples were approved. The question now becomes: Did Lentz die accidentally and Nichols took the opportunity to approve the samples or did Nichols have Lentz killed so that he could approve the samples? What happened is open to interpretation.

  • Gerard was trying to demonstrate to Kimble that he was out of options. He could either trust him, give up peacefully, and take the chance that Gerard would help him—or he could keep running and trying to get away (thus proving he was guilty) and Gerard would be forced to shoot him.

  • Standard procedure. Although Gerard believed Kimble to be innocent at this point he was still a wanted fugitive who had already escaped custody once.

  • There were many ambulances operating in that area, but what allowed Gerard to single out Kimble's ambulance was that it was not responding to radio calls, driving recklessly (like around downed grade crossing gates), and operating outside its designated service area.

  • After the manhunt for Kimble begins, there is noticeably no reference to Copeland (Eddie Bo Smith Jr.), whom the sheriff at the crash site had written off as dead. Perhaps the most likely explanation is that the authorities presumed that Kimble was the only inmate to survive. They only realized that Copeland also escaped when they failed to find his body in the wreckage. Copeland is not brought up until after the scene where Kimble accepts a ride from another woman. As he climbs in and she drives off with him, we cut to the U.S. Marshals' Chicago field office. Cosmo tells Gerard, "We've got him - shacked up with some babe over in Whiting", who "left work tonight and took him home". This is intended to be a red herring: the audience is led to believe that they have a tip on Kimble getting picked up and that the marshals are going to get him. The next morning, Gerard and Noah Newman lead a raid on the house, where Newman is grabbed by Copeland (hiding out at his girlfriend's house). Copeland takes Newman hostage with his own gun and threatens to kill him unless he is given a car. Gerard shoots and kills Copeland with two shots from point blank range from his Glock 17, because, as he later whispers into Newman's deafened ear, "I don't bargain." We later see him being reprimanded over the phone for his actions.

  • The film doesn't say what happens to Kimble after the film, but it would be safe to assume that he received a new trial. Based on the amount of evidence collected by both him and Gerard, a testimony from Gerard, and the capture of the true culprits, he could easily be found innocent. Whether or not he could resume his former life practicing vascular surgery is unknown.

  • When Kimble first contacts Nichols he probably helps him in order to stay above suspicion and avoid a scene. He probably assumed that Kimble would be caught soon by the police and, in fact, when questioned by Gerard he readily offers up all the information he has about Kimble. This is in contrast to some of Kimble's other friends, who actually attempt to stall the Marshals. Later on, Nichols doesn't really offer any help to Kimble. All he does is tell him that Lentz is dead. It's possible that Nichols hoped that this would put Kimble off the Provasic theory of the crime.

  • Those who have seen both the movie and the TV series say that the movie's plot—Dr Richard Kimble is convicted of murdering his wife Helen (who was really killed by a one-armed man); Kimble escapes from custody and goes searching for him, all the while pursued by Lieutenant Gerard—is consistent with the TV series. The main difference is that the TV series took four years to resolve the situation, whereas the movie took 130 minutes. During those four years, Kimble ran all over the country helping people, searching for the One-Armed Man, and trying to stay one step ahead of Inspector Gerard, who himself searched for and questioned approximately 80 one-armed men, with no success in finding the killer. Another notable difference is that the One-Armed Man in the TV show had no connection to Kimble, didn't kill his wife to frame him, and there was no Provasic or RDU-90 involved. Also, the murder went down differently in the TV series. Richard and Helen had argued over adoption (in stark contrast to the film, where they were clearly depicted as a loving, happy couple), and Richard had left the house. When he came back, he nearly ran over the One-Armed Man in front of his house, unlike in the movie where he enters and struggles with him. A few minor differences include the fact that Gerard's first name in the TV series was Philip (not Samuel), and he was a Lt. Detective (not a U.S. Marshal). In the TV series, the One-Armed Man's name was not Sykes, he was just a drifter, and he had no prosthetic. Also in the series, Richard was actually on the train being taken to prison to die in the electric chair when it derailed.

  • Kimble is no killer, so the gun isn't any use to him. Having it on him could also lead to further charges if he was apprehended. So he wanted to get rid of it. But if he just threw it on the ground or dumped it in a trash can it could be found by someone else and used for a crime. By dumping it in the mailbox, Kimble made sure that it wouldn't be found by anyone other than the postal worker who came to collect the mail.

Spoilers

The FAQ items below may give away important plot points.

  • Actually, it was Dr. Kimble that was the intended target, not Helen. Sykes had been hired by Dr Charles Nichols to kill Richard. Pay close attention: at the fundraiser, Nichols gives Richard back the keys to his car after having borrowed it. The events of the rest of the night are assumed when Gerard is looking over the phone records: Nichols phones Sykes from Kimble's car and then stops at the house to unlock the door. The plan was to kill Richard after he and Helen came home from the benefit. Unfortunately, Richard is called away to assist at a surgery. When Sykes gets there, Helen is the only one at home. Why Sykes kills Helen instead is unknown. Did she walk in and surprise Sykes? Did Sykes decide to frame Richard for murder? Or did he plan on killing both Helen and Richard to eliminate any potential witnesses? The answer is never revealed. Later in the movie, when Kimble asks that same question, "Why Helen?", he gets no answer either.

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