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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

THE FUGITIVE premiered 15 years ago today

One of my all-time favorite movies, The Fugitive, came out fifteen years ago today, on August 6th, 1993.

(How much is it one of my favorites? Well, it's on my iPod, for one thing...)

Starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones, The Fugitive was based on the 1960s television series about Dr. Richard Kimble, a physician who is wrongly convicted of murdering his wife, then escapes and goes on a cross-country search for the real killer: a one-armed man. Complicating matters is Phillip Gerard, a law enforcement agent obsessed with recapturing Kimble.

The movie took a number of liberties with the story from the television show. But it also benefited from enormous production values and a very strong cast which also included Sela Ward, Joe Pantoliano, and Julianne Moore in one of her first film roles. Also among the cast, playing Frederick Sykes (AKA "the one-armed man") was Andreas Katsulas, who soon afterward gained international acclaim for his portrayal of G'Kar on Babylon 5. The Fugitive became one of the biggest hits of 1993 and a defining motion picture for the next decade and beyond.

Wanna know something really cool? I have, in my possession, some pieces of the prison bus that gets hit by the train!

How'd that happen? Not many people know this but The Fugitive, although it takes place in the state of Illinois, had a lot of filming done for it in the mountains of North Carolina. Especially in and around Sylva. Some years ago I was visiting my sister when she was a student at Western Carolina. While I was waiting for her to get off work I went around town and took pictures of the various sites used in The Fugitive. I got to visit Taylor Auto (where Kimble steals the clothes) and found the street that he's walking along when he sees the hospital sign. A short distance away in Dillsboro is the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. If you know where to look, you can see the train and bus wreckage from the main road. Well, I just asked, and the nice folks said that I could go spend a few minutes getting a close-up peek at the bus and train. There were two buses they used to make that scene, and there was busted-out glass all over. I picked up a few shards and wrapped them in some Kleenex that I happened to have on me. Maybe someday I'll figure out a good way to display 'em...

(Yeah I have pictures to back all this up too, but don't have 'em handy at the moment.)

Harris Regional Hospital in Sylva was used extensively in the movie. That's the place where Kimble treats his wound and shaves off his beard and mustache. I've heard that the hospital made a lot of nice improvements to the place for the dough they got from the producers in exchange for it being used as a filming location. The very famous dam sequence was shot at Cheoah Dam in Graham County (although some internal scenes were filmed back in Chicago in some abandoned freight tunnels).

Think I'll honor the occasion later tonight by watching this awesome movie again. After I finally finish my review of The Dark Knight 'course... :-)


Unknown said...

Where is Taylor Auto located?

Obviously the wreck/movie props are completely cleaned up by now but would be fun to explore.

B.J. Milgate said...

Taylor Auto no longer exists but there is a Hispanic market in its place. It is on US 23 in Sylva next to the bridge over Scott River.