Saturday, August 10, 2013

Nary Anything Military About The Fugitive

At this very moment, The Fugitive is being broadcast on The Military Channel. In my opinion, The Military Channel is grossly misrepresenting itself and can claim no good reason to run this film. As Deputy U.S. Marshals, Tommy Lee Jones and his posse are law-enforcement agents under the aegis of the Department of Justice and are authorized to enforce federal laws and orders of the federal court system—they are not members of the United States military, nor, of course, are the film’s ancillary pursuers, the Chicago Police Department.

At no time, in fact, does The Fugitive feature any member of the U.S. military. (As can plainly be seen above, Dr. Richard Kimble is not being chased by soldiers, Marines, tanks, an F-16, a few drunk Coast Guardsmen, or even a measly Ticonderoga-class cruiser.)

That The Military Channel featured this “unmilitary” film is akin to the onerous act of individuals who falsely claim to have served in the armed forces or, worse yet, to have been decorated. And although The Military Channel’s action, technically, does not violate the Stolen Valor Act of 2013—which outlaws the “fraudulent representation about receipt of military decorations or medals ”—it transgressed the spirit, if not the letter, of the law.
Ironically, The Military Channel would have done better ethically to have aired a film as seemingly unsuitable as The Blues Brothers. Yes, these fine, Chicago-based films similarly feature outlaws hotly pursued by multiple law-enforcement agencies, tense moments on Lower Wacker Drive, and a riveting chase through Chicago’s Daley Plaza—however, unlike The Fugitive, John Landis’s raucous tale of two orphans on a mission from God makes a completely legitimate choice for Military Channel broadcast, because among Joliet Jake and Elwood’s myriad pursuers were a company of U.S. Army infantry, including military police and at least two Sherman tanks.*

* The Sherman had long been replaced in the U.S. Army—and is thus completely anachronistic—by the time The Blues Brothers was being filmed in 1979; however, it is not inconceivable that, in order to get heavy armor to the scene and apprehend the Blues Brothers as quickly as possible, tank crews would man a serviceable M4 Sherman if, for some reason, their current tank was not combat-ready.   

So jeers to The Military Channel for failing to air a film as worthy of America’s bravest as the exploits of Jake and Elwood Blues.

(Image of The Fugitive copyright Warner Brothers; images of The Blues Brothers copyright Universal Pictures.)

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