Three Fugitives

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Three Fugitives
Promotional film poster
Directed by Francis Veber
Written byFrancis Veber
Produced by Lauren Shuler Donner
Cinematography Haskell Wexler
Edited by Bruce Green
Music by David McHugh
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution (United States)
Warner Bros. (International) [1]
Release date
  • January 27, 1989 (1989-01-27)
Running time
96 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$40.6 million [2]

Three Fugitives is a 1989 American crime comedy film, written and directed by Francis Veber, starring Nick Nolte and Martin Short, with supporting roles by Sarah Doroff, James Earl Jones, Alan Ruck, and Kenneth McMillan in his final film appearance. It is a remake of Les Fugitifs , a 1986 French comedy starring Gérard Depardieu and Pierre Richard also directed by Veber.


The film was popular at the box office, grossing more than $11.9 million its first two weeks of release, [2] [3] despite receiving a general negative reception from critics.

The film follows a former notorious bank robber who, on the day he gets out of prison, is randomly taken hostage by another inexperienced bank robber while trying to cash his prison check, leading the police to assume he is behind it. A series of amusing situations ensues as the squabbling pair tries to evade capture.


Daniel Lucas has been in prison for armed robbery. On the day he is released, he gets taken hostage by Ned Perry, an incompetent, novice criminal who robs a bank (to get money for treatment for his ill daughter, Meg) at the moment Lucas just happens to be there.

Detective Marvin Dugan assumes they must be in it together and sets about tracking them down. Several chases, an accidental shooting, treatment from a senile vet who thinks Lucas is a dog and other capers follow, all the while Lucas trying to ditch his idiotic companion and prove his own innocence.

Whilst avoiding the law, the two form an unlikely partnership to help cure the silent Meg and make good their escape. They rescue Meg from the care home she is in (with Ned nearly ruining the whole affair with his clumsiness) and flee for Canada, pretending to be a married couple with a son.

Ned later enters a Canadian bank to change some currency only to find himself taken hostage by a different bank robber in the same manner he originally kidnapped Lucas. Because of this unexpected development, Lucas does not need to say goodbye to Meg, with whom he has formed a bond.



Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 14% based on 14 reviews. [4] On Metacritic it has a score of 40% based on reviews from 18 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". [5]

Variety says the "Clever premise starts pic off on a roll" but "As for the Nolte-Short pairing, it'll do, but it’s no chemical marvel. Nolte, not really a comic natural, gruffs and grumbles his way through as hunky straight man to Short's calamitous comedian." [6]

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  1. "Three Fugitives (1989)". BBFC . Retrieved 29 July 2021.
  2. 1 2 "Three Fugitives". Box Office Mojo .
  3. "Three Fugitives (1989)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films . Retrieved 9 March 2023.
  4. "Three Fugitives". Rotten Tomatoes .
  5. "Three Fugitives". Metacritic .
  6. Variety Staff (1 January 1989). "Three Fugitives". Variety .