Kimble Meets Mrs. Gerard in a Classic Episode of The Fugitive

The Fugitive starred David Janssen Guest blogger Rick 29 writes:

Generally regarded as one of the best—if not the best—TV series of the 1960s, The Fugitive set a high standard for well-crafted, exceptionally well-performed drama. Although there are many outstanding episodes, my favorite remains the two-part “Landscape with Running Figures” from season 3—or, as it’s better known among fans, the one with Richard Kimble and Mrs. Gerard on the bus.

The opening gets off to a fast start when a co-worker at a 24-hour diner informs Kimble (David Janssen) that the police have been asking questions about him. It turns out that a weary Kimble signed his time card with his real name. With the authorities already alerted, Kimble knows the dragnet will tighten quickly. Meanwhile, police lieutenant Philip Gerard (Barry Morse)—Kimble’s “relentless pursuer”—has already arrived in town…with his wife Marie (Barbara Rush). When a fellow officer asks what the Gerards were doing, Philip replies: “Nothing special—just a vacation.”

It soon becomes apparent, though, that it was more than “just a vacation.” It was an attempt to repair a marriage weakened by Philip’s obsession with bringing Kimble to justice. In their hotel room, Philip explains that this time is different, that he could really capture Kimble. Marie, brushing her hair compulsively in the mirror, initially feigns interest and then remarks: “Life without Kimble…what a pretty dream that used to be.”

The subplots of Kimble’s escape and the Gerards’ marriage difficulties eventually intersect, taking the story in an unexpected direction. Although the two-parter’s length makes the proceedings more episodic than usual, there are some superb scenes.

One of the best has a hiding Kimble watching as Gerard tries to bribe a little boy into revealing the fugitive’s whereabouts. Seeing the kid looking at a chocolate bar in a vending machine, Gerard borrows a dime from a uniformed officer, puts it in the machine, and selects the desired candy. Kimble, who is literally locked in the adjacent room, can do nothing. But when Gerard pulls the knobs on the vending machine, nothing happens. The money slot has been jammed. Without the bribe, Kimble’s hiding place remains a child’s secret and Gerard’s frustration only mounts.

While much of the episode focuses on Kimble and Marie, it also fleshes out the character of Gerard. Most of Gerard’s appearances in the series serve little purpose beyond moving the plot forward. It’s a credit to Barry Morse that he lets the guarded Gerard occasionally flash the humanity hidden underneath his hardened resolve. In “Landscape with Running Figures,” though, Gerard’s relationship with his wife provides the means to openly explore the nature—and the limits—of the detective’s need to capture Kimble.

Barbara Rush gives a richly-textured performance as Marie, often content to let her expressions voice her emotions. In one of her strongest scenes, Marie calls Philip to tell him about an accident. His immediate response is to think it’s “some kind of test” to see if he would choose her over Kimble. Finally realizing something is wrong, Philip asks if she is okay. Marie, her face filled with disappointment and anger, states flatly: “It’s a little late to ask that.”

One of the strengths of The Fugitive was always Janssen’s and the writers’ willingness to let other performers take the spotlight. It’s not that Janssen doesn’t have the opportunity to shine in “Landscape with Running Figures”—he has several outstanding scenes—but this particular episode is really more about the Gerards. And, in the closing scenes, Marie and Philip Gerard each reveal, in different and surprising ways, how much they still care about one another. It’s a fitting end to one of the best episodes of The Fugitive.

Rick29 is a film reference book author and a regular contributor at the Classic Film & TV Café (http://classic-film-tv.blogspot.com/ and on Facebook). He’s a big fan of MovieFanFare, too, of course!

What’s your favorite episode of The Fugitive? Sound off in the comments!

  • mike jaral

    we would watch it every week without fail, but the only one I remember is the last. some network should start showing them again in sequence again.

  • Martin Stumacher

    I never missed an episode. David Janssen’s intensity and seriousness was classic of a good actor. I would rate the last two episodes as being the best way to end one of the finest series presented on television.

  • em

    “Landscape” is indeed an outstanding episode in a series that had so many terrific episodes. David Janssen perfectly embodied both the strength and the vulnerability of Dr. Kimble. Great acting, great writing, an all-around great series that still holds up.

  • Mark Townsend

    “mike jaral says:
    February 27, 2011 at 11:44 am
    we would watch it every week without fail, but the only one I remember is the last. some network should start showing them again in sequence again.”

    If you buy the DVDs you don’t have to be dependent upon a TV station running them — plus, DVDs don’t have commercials! ;-)

  • Charles Billodeaux

    I have seen all the episodes and consider THE FUGITIVE one of the best programs ever aired. “Landscape..”is a classic, but my all time favorite is the 2-parter: “Angels Travel on Lonely Roads” which has excellent humor, drama, and suspense as Kimble travels with a Nun in a broken down car across mountain roads… the epilog: “Two fugitives: one who has lost faith in her strength to cross a mountain , the other who must cross it in order to live. Sister Veronica turns to Richard Kimble for help. The road is long the mountain is high!”

  • Carl

    The Fugitive is my all-time favorite drama series. Although many episodes could be considered favorites, The Ivy Maze stands out. When you have Kimble, Gerard and the one-armed man within feet of each other, it always makes for high drama.

  • Richard Finn

    The series begin and ended while I was in medical school and I had little time for TV. But I often heard about it. A friend who had been born in Portugal, told me once when he was visiting family there he attended a bull fight. Suddenly there was a commotion at one end of the viewing stands and he looked up to see David Janssen entering. The crowd had come to their feet, and were cheering, “El Fugativo, El Fugativo”. Again, another series that could be shown again, and it would be a marked improvement of what the networks air today!

  • ekim smada

    We never missed an episode. It was a great show. It type cast Janssen though. When he turned up in “The Green Berets” with John Wayne he looked out of place. I think he did a good job in that film. It wasn’t his acting that seemed strange it was, “whats’ Richard Kimble doing in Viet Nam?”

  • james

    I have every episode on DVD and watched it as a kid…Later in life I was even taken as a close look alike to David Janssen!!! Although it was a somewhat thin script, he was the star of “Warning Shot” during or just after the series ended in 1967…He played a police detective trying to clear himself of manslaughter with a great supporting cast. I didn’t think of him as Kimble in it either. He was also great friends with Clint Eastwood and Martin Milner when they were all virtual unknowns in the early to mid 1950′s! He starred with Clint in “Lafayette Escadrille” (1958) and did one episode of “Route 66″ with Marty, etc.

  • robert pezzullo

    THE ULTIMATE FUGITIVE EPISODE IS WHEN DR RICHARD KIMBLE CAUGHT THE ONE ARMED BANDIT WHO KILLED DR KIMBALLS WIFE AND PUT DR KIMBALL ON THE LOOSE FROM LT.GERARD .I NEVER MISSED AND EPISODE WHAT HAPPENED TO SHOWS LIKE THIS THAT’S WHAT GOOD TV WAS ALL ABOUT .GOOD COP TV NOT ALL THIS NONSENSE OF TODAY .THERES MORE VIOLENCE NOW THEN WHEN I WAS GROWING UP AS A KID.

  • mike melson

    I have seen every episode but my personal favorite is “angels travel on lonely roads.” In it, both Kimble and a nun ended up running from something. Kimble is running from the law and the nun is running from God. Throughout the episode, it seems as if God intervenes time and time again and rescues them and in the end, the nun returns to the convent and Kimble survives another day and has his faith in God restored.

  • ALICE

    I LOVE THIS SERIES I DID NOT MISS ONE I HOPE IT WILL BE FOR PURCHASE SOON

  • harlem_rocker

    Top notch drama, the best of the 60′s and in the top ten TV shows of all time. One aspect to note is the great guest stars-actors like Richard Anderson, Ed Asner, Bruce Dern, Slim Pickens- talk about the icing on the cake! The character of the fugitive possessed an underlying decency and resilience that actually became a role model for me when I was young. One of my favorite episodes was when Kimble and Mrs. Gerard got stuck together in a town abandoned due to an imminent flood. Every episode is very good, some are fantastic, and only twice in the series did the writers ever ‘drop the ball’ near the ending, imo.

    Also, this show is a great way to teach history- show an young person the series and they can get a good picture of what life was like in America circa 1965 ( The cars, phones, gender roles, clothing, police procedure, medical technology, etc). This was back in the day when a grown man could innocently interact with a strange child in order to help or instruct. This was an era when women embraced their femininity without ambivalence, this was a time when men worked and they would be deeply ashamed if they tried to ‘beat the system; to avoid working,, etc..)