Valentine "Snakeskin" Xavier, a trouble-prone drifter trying to go straight, wanders into a small Mississippi town looking for a simple and honest life but finds himself embroiled with problem-filled women.
Having fled New Orleans to avoid arrest, the undeniably alluring Valentine "Snakeskin" Xavier (Val), a trouble-prone guitar-playing drifter, wanders into a small Mississippi town aiming to go straight and lead a quiet, simple life. He gets a job in the dry goods store owned by a sexually-frustrated middle-aged woman named Lady Torrence, whose sadistic elderly husband, Jabe, is dying. With an obscure past and passions of her own, Lady finds herself attracted to Val, pulsating with passion anew, as he presents an arousing antidote to her bitter marriage and small-town hum-drum life, but also vying for Val's attention are the alcoholic, sex-crazed Carol Cutrere and the unhappily-married Vee Talbot. Each bring their share of problems into Val's plans, himself equally tempted by these women though he succumbs to the charms of Lady. But the jealous Jabe is friends with Sheriff Talbot, who's also Vee's wife - things can't possibly end well for Val and Lady. The screenplay by Meade Roberts ...Written by
Of the cast of the 1957 Broadway production, Maureen Stapleton and R.G. Armstrong made the transition to the screen. While Armstrong reprised his role as Sheriff Talbott, Stapleton took the supporting role of Vee Talbot. Interestingly, Stapleton also was the original Serafina in Tennessee Williams' "The Rose Tattoo," a role that also was played by Anna Magnani on-screen. See more »
Juking? Oh! Well, that's when you get in a car, which is preferably open in any kind of weather. And then you drink a little bit and you drive a little bit, and then you stop and you dance a little bit with a jukebox. And then you drink a little bit more and you drive a little bit more, you stop and you dance a little bit more to another juke box! And then you stop dancing and you just drink and you drive. And then, you stop driving.
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While The Fugitive Kind suffers from inconsistent pacing and some over-blown dialog, it is worth watching for the peerless performances delivered by Anna Magnani and Victor Jory. Magnani's desperate vulnerability and passionate need for love and vindication are so powerfully and truthfully portrayed that even the great Brando seems pale and insubstantial beside her. Without Jory's vilely hateful depiction of the dying husband, however, even Magnani's powerhouse performance couldn't save the film. Seldom has such wanton cruelty been so effectively captured on screen. Brando is a bit mannered at times but the sheer animal magnetism he possessed at this point in his career transcend the script's pretensions. Woodward wrings more than could rightfully be expected from her over-written part. R.G. Armstrong as the corrupt sheriff and Maureen Stapleton as his kind-hearted wife shine in supporting roles, but it is Magnani and Jory who transform the film into a riveting cinematic experience.
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