Spencer Tracy, Sylvia Sidney, Walter Brennan, Bruce Cabot. An ethical young man becomes hardened by the mob rule that controls his town when he wants to marry his sweetheart but he doesn't have the money. An outstanding Fritz Lang drama. 1936/b&w/93 min/NR/fullscreen.
"Fury" was legendary German director Fritz Lang's first American film. He spoke English, but not well enough at the time to write fluid dialogue, so Lang worked on the script with writer Bartlett Cormack, who did the actual writing. Lang and Cormack based this morality tale of mob psychology and revenge on a story outline by Norman Krasna entitled "Mob Rule", but they incorporated some elements of a real lynching case that had recently occurred in San Jose, California. Lang's intention was to give the film a realistic, documentary feel. "Fury" gives the impression of looking at the laws and customs of the United States through foreign eyes, which, of course, it is, but I don't know if Lang meant that to be so evident.
Joe Wilson (Spencer Tracy) is a man very much in love with his fiancée Katherine (Sylvia Sydney). The couple are eager to get married but don't yet have enough savings. Katherine takes a job in another city to earn more money, while Joe works hard in Chicago. After over a year of this arrangement, Joe has saved enough money to marry Katherine, and he sets out in his new car to join her. But he is intercepted by police en route and arrested on suspicion of being part of a kidnapping gang. He is held in a small town jail pending further investigation, but gossip spreads of the arrest, and an angry mob descends on the jail. When the mob is unable to break into the cells, they burn and dynamite the jail. Joe is thought to have died in the fire. But he escaped and is determined to avenge his attempted murder by seeing that the lynch mob is prosecuted for murder.
"Fury" isn't the least bit subtle in its message. It states its morals outright, but that doesn't undermine its power.Read more ›
A very unusual M-G-M film from 1936: because of its theme of social consciousness, it seems much more a likely candidate for Warner Brothers. It's a dilly with an outstanding performance by Tracy as the wrong man: En route to see his fiancee, Katherine (Sylvia Sidney) Joe Wheeler (Spencer Tracy) is arrested as a suspected kidnapper and is jailed pending trial. The evidence against him is strickly circumstantial: he possess a bill from a ransom statement. Then a mob forms around the jail, but Sheriff Ellis (Walter Brennan) manages to disband them & send them home... And that's all I'm going to give out plot-wise. Obviously, there is a whole lot more to this famous film in which Fritz Lang made is American directorial debut. This was Lang's favourite American film - and rightfully so: it demonstrates his directorial genius in wasting NOT A FRAME of film, telling his story with sharp cross-cutting between victims and tormentors, while unravelling the mindless and murderous passion of a mob out of control. Sylvia Sidney is excellent as usual as Katherine: this was her sole role for M-G-M. The film awakened America to what the reality of mob violence means. The original working titles for the film were THE MOB & MOB RULE. For a great companion piece, view the excellent Lang production YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE with Henry Fonda and Sylvia Sidney made the next year, in 1937: it's available on video.
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The film begins as a fairly routine romance: Spencer Tracy and Sylvia Sidney fall in love, are forced to separate for a time, and plan their reunion. All goes well until Tracy is arrested on a kidnapping charge. When Tracy is taken to the small-town jail, the local gossip begins. From this point, the film becomes a gritty, raw study of mob violence. The direction and action are relentless. Watching Tracy's reaction to the happenings around him is one of the pleasures of the film. Compare the way the local people act to the recent acts of violence we see today. (Have things changed much?) FURY is powerful, forceful, and memorable.
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Are people essentially good or evil? This is an age old question that Fritz Lang's movie tries to explore. But it's a difficult question to answer. Take a look throughout history and it seems to be filled with violence, wars, and assassinations. But then an event like 9\11 or hurricane Katrina happens and we see an outpour of goodwill and generosity. And again we must ask ourselves are the fundamental impulses of man good or evil?
"Fury" tells the story of Joe Wilson (Spence Tracy) a man who is about to get married to Katherine (Sylvia Sidney). Katherine has found a high paying job in another town and has agreed to take it so she can save up enough money for the two to get married. Joe promises once he gets enough money as well he will travel out to Katherine. A year goes by and the two are still apart. But through Joe's hard work he finally has enough money to marry Katherine.
Early on in the film the theme of right and wrong is presented. Joe is a nice guy. Always trying to do the right thing. When we first meet his brothers, who he lives with, one of them is doing work for the mob (though this is never really played out) and the other brother comes home drunk. Joe strongly protest their behavior. Joe even saves a stray dog in another scene.
Now when Joe drives out to Katherine he is pulled over and suspected to be involved in a kidnapping scandal that has affected the small town. Things are made worst when the find out Joe eats peanuts, because so does one of the kidnappers. And of course there can only be room for one person in the world to eat peanuts. I wonder if peanut sales went down after the release of this picture? And Joe is found with a five dollar bill that matches the serial number on one of the bills that was given for the ransom.Read more ›