An altruistic department-store owner hires ex-convicts in order to give them a second chance at life. Unfortunately, one of the convicts he hires recruits two of his fellow ex-convicts in a plan to rob the store.
Based on the story "Mob Rule" by Norman Krasna. Joe Wilson and Katherine Grant are in love, but he doesn't have enough money for them to get married. So Katherine moves across the country to make money. But things go disastrously wrong for Joe when he stops in a small town and is mistaken for a wanted murderer. Through the course of the movie, Fritz Lang shows us how a decent and once civilized man can become a ruthless and bitter man. Written by
Andre'a M. Thompson <email@example.com>
This was Fritz Lang's first film in Hollywood and he wasn't accustomed to labor laws that require meal breaks. Shortly after filming began, Lang ate a quick lunch between set-ups and resumed filming. Some of the crew members wondering about their lunch break asked Spencer Tracy, who in turn pointed out to Lang that it was "1:30 pm and the crew had yet to take their break". Lang replied that it was his set and that "I will call lunch when I think it should be called". Tracy then smeared his make-up with his hand, knowing that it would take at least 90 minutes to fix it, yelled "Lunch!" and promptly walked off the set with the crew. See more »
When the newsreel of the attempted lynching is run during the trial scene, the frame of the newsreel is frozen several times, in order to show the defendants as having taken part in the crime. But while the newsreel projector is supposed to have stopped, the ticking of the projector continues in the background, as if the film were still running. See more »
Horribly melodramatic, but psychologically complex, well-directed and excellently edited. Spencer Tracy is an innocent man assumed guilty by a mob and "lynched." Making this 1936 film still-timely are the growth of the mob and its trial, conviction and execution of Tracy based only on speculation and emotion instead of on evidence and reason. Also, the line, "I will remind the jury of the easy habit of putting on foreigners events that disturb our conscience" comments on a tendency that still exists today (just listen to talk radio here in Massachusetts!). The story touches on many issues - morality, humanity, patriotism, law, politics, media, etc - and, as such, raises many issues for discussion. Teachers might consider showing this film in class as a start-point into exploration of today's issues. Spencer Tracy gives an appropriately melodramatic performance, but Edward Ellis as the town sheriff gives the best (albeit small) performance. For entertainment value, I'd give this film 6/10; but for fans of any of the stars, the director, or for advocates of civil rights and justice, this film is worth about 8/10; finally, as a tool for teachers, 10/10.
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