THE FUGITIVE TV show and film Print
Written by Double Dragon
Thursday, 29 July 2010 20:26

THE FUGITIVE TV show and film

Writing copyright D. S. Brown. Images copyright QM Productions.

THE FUGITIVE TV series follows the travels of Dr. Richard Kimble (played by David Janssen) as he tries to stay one step ahead of Lt Philip Gerard (played by Barry Morse) and seemingly every cop in USA. Kimble was falsely convicted of murdering his wife. He occasionally picked up the trail of the real murderer, a one armed man. Most of the time Kimble was primarily occupied with solving problems for people while simultaneously trying to survive the latest complicated situation he found himself in.

From 1963 to 1966 THE FUGITIVE was filmed in black and white. The cinematography suited the film noire atmosphere of many of the scripts. While often cynical, the show didn't take away all hope. Kimble's strength of character overturned the self serving motives of others who often manipulated his plight. When the fourth season began in Sep 1966 the show was shot in color which didn't quite match the somber atmosphere of the show.

Prior to this time, most shows usually went off the air without ceremony or explanation leaving the situations open ended. ROUTE 66 (which is also profiled in ROAD TRIP MEDIA) had a 'summary' final 2 episodes when they went off the air in 1964 but they were the exception to the rule. The final FUGITIVE two part episode in 1967 provided resolution to Kimble's flight. Later series such as M*A*S*H* (1972-83) and DALLAS (1978-91) generated large audiences by adopting the 'wrap-up episode' approach that garnered such huge ratings for THE FUGITIVE.

Kimble mainly travelled by bus, but often hopped freight trains or hitch hiked around the USA, hitting the major cities where he could blend in with a crowd. He occasionally drove cars but many scripts emphasized his reluctance to drive in case he got pulled over by the police for something routine.

Kimble also worked odd jobs in small towns that were unique and isolated from the rest of the country. The series occasionally did location shooting, but not to the same degree as ROUTE 66, which was running simultaneously.

David Janssen's non verbal, often abrupt acting style worked perfectly for the Kimble character, absorbing the audience in his dilemmas. Janssen was born David Harold Meyer March 27, 1931 at 10:00 AM in Naponee, Nebraska. His mom moved him to Hollywood following her divorce. David took on his new stepfather's last name Janssen. David was in a home for children from age 9 to 12. He was a high school athlete before focusing on acting. He became a success with the TV series RICHARD DIAMOND, PRIVATE DETECTIVE from 1957-60. Janssen's tightly wound chain smoking, heavy drinking personality lent itself well to the character of Kimble who never completely conceals the inner turmoil brewing within.

Janssen's later TV series roles reverted to straightforward hero roles as O'HARA, U.S. TREASURY and HARRY O.

Barry Morse played Lt Gerard as a clinical perfectionist who goes overboard in attempting to rectify his failure when Kimble escaped his custody. Morse was born on the morning of June 10, 1918 in London, England. With 3,000 roles on stage, TV and radio under his belt Morse was a character actor who put a lot of thought into the backstory behind Gerard. Morse was able to imply complexity of character despite appearing only occasionally throughout the series in 37 episodes. Morse directed the April 11, 1967 episode "The Shattered Silence".

Morse is also well known for his regular role on SPACE:1999.

Gerard's boss Captain Carpenter was played by Paul Birch. Birch was born Jan 13, 1912 as Paul Lowery Smith in Atmore, Alabama. He played President Grant repeatedly on TV before landing the role of Carpenter. His questioning of Gerard's zeal forces Gerard to articulate the reasons behind his obsession with Kimble as well as providing insight into his methods.

Bill Raisch portrayed the elusive one armed man in several episodes. The one armed man is usually known as Fred Johnson although this is likely an alias. Johnson is a minimalist thug drifting from place to place with quick wits and brutal self preservation skills. Carl William Raisch was born April 5, 1905 in North Bergen, New Jersey. His early career as a dancer was interrupted by service in WW II where he lost his right arm. He was in several movies (most notably in the fight scene in LONELY ARE THE BRAVE) before landing his recurrent role in THE FUGITIVE.

Kimble occasionally meets up or calls his sister who named Donna Taft, played by Jacqueline Scott as a caring, supportive figure still living in their hometown of Stafford, Indiana. Although she is emotional when the chips are down Donna is able to hold her own in confrontations with Gerard. Jacqueline Sue Scott was born Jan 1, 1932 in Sikeston, Missouri and embarked on an incredibly long career in film and TV from a young age.

The series also had consistently good guest stars and writers.

Below is a picture of the cover of a book adaption based on the script to the first episode. Some of the copies made it out to the general public before the books were recalled. The books were taken off the shelves and destroyed due to the fact that it was an unauthorized adaptation.

the fugitive fear in a desert town book


the fugitive fear in a desert town book back

The show originally ran from 10 PM to 11 PM Tuesday nights. In reruns it was shown late at night and in the wee hours of the morning here and there. Given that the show itself was shot mainly in night sets and random locales, the hit and miss late night reruns seemed appropriate. In the 1990s the show enjoyed a second wave of popularity when A & E network brought the show into the light. A&E ran the show in daylight hours with regular timeslots. In the mid 1990s, this comprehensive series book was sold to viewers through a mail order ad run during commercial breaks.

/the fugitive recaptured

Because of the popularity of the reruns, a movie version of the TV series was made. In the 1990s theatres were full of old TV show adaptations. THE FUGITIVE movie (Aug 6, 1993) stood up on its own merits as a thriller, but had to forego most of what made the TV series so great. Richard Kimble's four year adventure living under assumed identities in offbeat jobs and in unique situations and places couldn't possibly fit into a two hour film.

Harrison Ford's action image made the movie Richard Kimble's feats of daring seem a natural extension of his personality. Contrast this with Janssen's desperate moves in the TV series. Janssen came across as muted, paranoid and submerged in anxiety, avoiding confrontation. When he suddenly exploded into action it caught viewers off guard as much as the characters onscreen.

Below is a picture of the novel based on the film script. The book was actually authorized and didn't need to be recalled as did the novelization that came out in the 1960s.

the fugitive movie tie in book

The film is readily available in VHS, DVD and even Laser Disc. Below are some covers from back when the film was first available for home viewing.



the fugitive vhs

The FUGITIVE movie spawned a sequel which had nothing to do with Richard Kimble. US MARSHALS (March 6, 1998) followed the further adventures of Gerard as played by Tommy Lee Jones.

us marshalls vhs

The original TV series has been released on VHS and DVD. Covers are reproduced below and are copyright to the issuing companies. The VHS series selected some of the better episodes, all from the Black and White years.


As you can see from the back, the COLLECTORS ANTHOLOGY didn't present these episodes in chronological order, but rather chose the more popular episodes from the series and teamed up episodes sometimes from different seasons on the same tape.


This series is not the only VHS series out there, but was the most ambitious in that they produced a run of ten volumes= 20 episodes.













Finally, the complete series of 120 episodes is available on DVD in chronological order. When you insert the first DVD into the player you are transported back to the first episode which aired Sep 17, 1963 at 10:00 PM. William Conrad's introductory narrative tells us that Kimble has been on the run for 6 months at this point. The closing spiel adds 2 weeks to this time frame.

Kimble states in FEAR IN A DESERT TOWN that he escaped about 18 months after the murder meaning the murder happened Sep, 1961. This is contradicted in NEVER WAVE GOODBYE when the wrong one armed man is 'cleared' of being a suspect because he was in a psychiatric institute during '1960'. In the final episode, THE JUDGEMENT it is revealed that the murder happened Sep 19, 1961.

Sep 19 is a significant date for this show. Roy Huggins' original concept for the show was first typed up Sep 19, 1960. In that outline, the escape was set on July 2. The first few episodes were aired out of the order that they were shot and Kimble's time at large varies between 8 months and 'over a year' by the time SEE HOLLYWOOD AND DIE is aired. By the time this episode aired Kimble has become expert at evading suspicion, covering his tracks and anticipating police methods.

The given amount of time Kimble was at large varies from episode to episode, but the implication is that by the time we start to follow his adventures, Kimble has become adept at being a fugitive and Gerard has studied him and his methods in great detail. Gerard always says, "I know Kimble!"

the fugitive dvd season 1 vol

the fugitive dvd season 1 vol 1back

In case you were wondering why his jacket changes color from still to still, the images shown on the DVD covers are B&W stills that have been colorized. The series was in B&W for the first three seasons.

When the series returned for a second season, the format was changed slightly. The opening sequence was condensed and consisted of stills flashed from various episodes, instead of the live action train sequence used to introduce the first season episodes.

the fugitive dvd season 1 vol 2.

the fugitive dvd s 1 vol 2 back

At the end of each episode the still from NIGHTMARE AT NORTHOAK of Kimble running into a blind alley appeared with a voice over: "The Fugitive!"

the fugitive dvd season 2 vol 2

the fugitive dvd season 2 vol 2 back.

the fugitive dvd season 3 vol

the fugitive dvd season 3 vol 1 back

/the fugitive dvd season 3 vol 2

the fugitive dvd season 3 vol 2 back

There was no need to colorize the DVD photos for the fourth season out takes because the final season was filmed in color. Prior to each episode, a changing band of color with an animated running figure flashed across the screen and a narrator told you this was: "The Fugitive... In Color!" The end photo from NIGHTMARE AT NORTHOAK was retained and colorized but the narrator voice exclaiming, "The Fugitive!" was dropped.

the fugitive season 4 dvd

the fugitive season 4 back dvd



































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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 03 May 2017 00:26 )