Climbing out of the same cot as Three Men And A Baby, this could more properly be called Two Men And A Tyke, presenting a similar mix of good-natured guys, cute kiddie crises and general wholesomeness. Nolte is a 14-times convicted bank robber who, on his first day out of jail, makes the mistake of walking into his local downtown branch just before Short, the worlds most incompetent stick-up artist, makes with a gun and threats. Bungling the robbery, Short makes his escape by taking Nolte hostage only the police think its the other way around.
A lot of chasing, cursing and collar grabbing ensues with Nolte attempting and failing at every turn to get rid of his gormless companion (Asshole he calls him affectionately) and establish his innocence. Then theres Shorts little girl (Doroff) who strangely hasnt spoken since Mommy died. The little girl likes Nolte and ever so surprisingly soon reveals her tonsils. Dont go she says, so he doesnt and from then on its a case of mismatched pals comically against the world.
Given such a cloying and utterly predictable plot, it's surprising that Three Fugitives works as well as it does. Nolte, all big shoulders and bashfulness shows a pleasant self-deprecating talent and copes very well with the array of humiliations ranged against him: Short shoots him in the leg, medical treatment comes from a vet who treats him literally like a dog and to cap it all the police chief calls him Rover. Always just on the right side of sickly, midway through things become very seriously contrived with the old man-in-womans clothes routine, but theres a solid ration of laughs and Shorts overheated antics are only occasionally tiresome. It could have been worse. Much worse.