Anna was always basically unhappy shooting here. She missed Italy, she missed her child. She never really learned English and would have to work with a coach learning her part phonetically. So all that was left was a magnificent temperament and a volatile talent.
New York, July 1960
No vague, symbolic metaphor obscures Tennessee Williams‘ philosophy in this film. With agonized (and sometimes boring) clarity he says: brutality and evil will sure enough conquer the world, there’s no use fighting it. All we can do— in helplessness and nostalgia — is to value the few rare wild birds who fly into our world now and then, flutter their wings courageously against the downdraughts of evil and then die — violently, and in vain. The bird in The Fugitive Kind is Marlon Brando. He wears a snakeskin jacket, carries a guitar (his life’s companion) and drifts, at thirty, into the life of storekeeper Anna Magnani. Anna is a bitter woman who never recovered from the fact that her father’s house and grounds were burned out by unknown hoodlums of this very town. She’s married to cruel Victor Jory who’s just come home from the hospital to die. All of Williams‘ characters (except Brando and the ineffectual Maureen Stapleton) feel like victims and make no effort to get out of the muck they’re in. Joanne Woodward can react to her life only by becoming a defiant tramp; she is always around looking like an unkempt ghost) to lure Marlon back to his old ways. Resisting her (it isn’t hard), he gives in to Anna‘s great need for warmth. Anna plans to open her “confectionery” — an outdoor cafe — on the very night that Jory is dying. By this time Brando is caught. Like a bird he flutters to fly away, but the forces of evil embodied by the town sheriff, the dying husband, the pervasive smell of rot, the strangling grip of town history, all serve to destroy him.