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Snakes in Movies
 
U.S. Marshalls (1998)
 
Spoiler Alert !

Some of these pictures and descriptions may give away plot details that you might not want to know before watching the film.
 
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This is a followup to The Fugitive (1993). Since that movie was so successful and got a bunch of Academy Awards nominations, with Tommy Lee Jones winning one for his performance, Hollywood did what Hollywood does best and brought back some of the cast to re-make the movie with a fugitive who escapes from a plane crash instead of a train crash. Tommy Lee Jones is the same U.S. Marshall, Samuel Gerard, who undertakes another massive state-wide manhunt for an innocent fugitive. It's not as good as the Fugitive, but it hits a lot of the same notes so if you liked the first one, it's worth a watch. And there's a very short snake cameo with a species of snake that I've never seen before in a movie.

After a plane full of prisoners crashes in the Ohio River and Sheridan (Wesley Snipes) escapes, he hijacks a truck and makes his way south to a cypress swamp somewhere south of Illinois. (The movie was filmed in northwest Tennessee, where there is a cypress swamp, so belive it or not, the location is actually consistent with the plot and Sheridan's journey. Sheridan steals a boat so Marshall Gerard rounds up a bunch of local men and their boats to search the swamp. One of the local law enforcement officers says to Gerard that it doesn't matter that he's in a boat "That fella's gonna be dead from snakebite by dark." (My subtitle incorrectly wrote "snakebites" but he says "snakebite.")

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We see a shot of Gerard and the men about to get into their boats which is followed by a shot of a snake shown on a tree branch over the swamp just as Sheridan rows by in a boat. The camera rack focuses from the snake in focus, blurring the snake and Sheridan, then focuses on Sheridan as he rows past.

That's it, blink and you'll miss it, but I was excited to see a glamour shot of a nicely-posed live Red-bellied Mud Snake. It's even a species of snake that is actually found in that swamp so I can't complain about that, but it's a harmless species, not a venomous snake. All snakes are supposed to be deadly in movies, so you can't blame them for wrangling a harmless one instead of trying to deal with a dangerous snake. Since it's a species that could be found at the location where they were filming, I wonder if someone caught the snake there and decided to hang it on a branch and use it for the scene, instead of being put there by someone hired to bring a captive snake to the location. Mud snakes are almost entirely aquatic and they're not known to be climbers, but it's probably not impossible to find one sunning itself on a low branch like water snakes do.

It is a bit disappointing that after the comment about Sheridan being killed by venomous snakes they show a harmless snake. I have to admit that I was also disappointed that we did not see a thousand deadly snakes rain down on one of the manhunters. (I knew it wouldn't be Sheridan since the movie wasn't even half over.) As much as I don't like unrealistic lurid snake scenes, I also miss them when I don't see them.