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Fury (1936)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 5 June 1936 (USA)
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When a wrongly accused prisoner barely survives a lynch mob attack and is presumed dead, he vindictively decides to fake his death and frame the mob for his supposed murder.

Director:

Fritz Lang

Writers:

Bartlett Cormack (screen play), Fritz Lang (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Sylvia Sidney ... Katherine Grant
Spencer Tracy ... Joe Wilson
Walter Abel ... District Attorney
Bruce Cabot ... Kirby Dawson
Edward Ellis ... Sheriff
Walter Brennan ... 'Bugs' Meyers
Frank Albertson ... Charlie
George Walcott ... Tom
Arthur Stone ... Durkin
Morgan Wallace ... Fred Garrett
George Chandler ... Milton Jackson
Roger Gray Roger Gray ... Stranger
Edwin Maxwell ... Vickery
Howard C. Hickman ... Governor (as Howard Hickman)
Jonathan Hale ... Defense Attorney
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Storyline

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 <athompso@ziggy.st.hmc.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

TWO LOVERS...VICTIMS OF MOB VIOLENCE! (original 1936 window card poster)


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 June 1936 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mob Rule See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Fritz Lang threw smoke bombs into the riot scene to rile up his actors. One of them struck Bruce Cabot, who had to be physically restrained from punching the director. See more »

Goofs

When Joe is shown standing looking into a flower shop window imagining his future life without Kathleen he turns around but the next shot shows him standing in front of a haberdashery. See more »

Quotes

District Attorney: [after several witnesses had lied on the stand] I wonder if I haven't been calling the defense witnesses by mistake.
See more »


Soundtracks

There's No More Trouble for Me
(uncredited)
Composer Unknown
Sung a cappella by Edna Mae Harris
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Mob Momentum
12 May 2005 | by BrandtSponsellerSee all my reviews

Famed German director Fritz Lang's first American film, Fury, is loosely based on a story by Norman Krasna, "Mob Rule", which itself was based on the tale of California's last public lynching, in 1933, of Thomas Harold Thurmond and John M. Holmes, the kidnappers and murderers of Brooke Hart, the "son" in San Jose's L. Hart and Son Department Store. Fury is a fine exploration (although not an analysis) of the mentality of vengeance, whether from a mob, as in the first half of the film, or from an individual, as in the latter half. It is loaded with fine acting and an unusually constructed script by Lang and co-writer Bartlett Cormack, although it is not without flaws.

Joe Wilson (Spencer Tracy) is deeply in love with Katherine Grant (Sylvia Sidney). Wilson lives in the Chicago area in a small apartment with his two brothers, Charlie (Frank Albertson) and Tom (George Walcott). Wilson wants to marry Grant, but they're short on money. Despite the relationship hardships it will entail, Grant returns to Texas to work--she'll be making good money there, while Wilson tries to improve his lot in Illinois. Wilson finally manages to buy a gas station with his brothers, and earns enough to buy a car and take a road trip, with his dog Rainbow in tow, to meet Grant so they can get married. When he's almost there, Wilson is suddenly stopped by a sheriff's deputy in the small town of Strand. They question him about a kidnapping. Two minor details make him more suspicious, and so they decide to hold him in the town jail while the D.A. looks into his background. Rumors makes their way around the town and things go horribly wrong, bringing us to mob mentality, lynchings and vengeance.

Lynchings were an emerging social problem in the early 1930s. There were 60 known lynchings in the U.S. between 1930 and 1934. Beginning in 1934, the earliest of the "anti-lynching" bills was presented to the U.S. Congress, and that number grew to 140 different bills by 1940. The visual arts also voiced in on the issue--one museum held "An Art Commentary on Lynching" exhibition in 1934. So Fury was certainly pertinent to our culture at the time, and was one of many films to come, such as Mervyn LeRoy's They Won't Forget (1937) that centered on strong anti-lynching sentiments (believe it or not, there were also pro-lynching films, such as Cecil B. DeMille's This Day and Age, 1933).

It's interesting to note that although lynching was primarily a "racial"-oriented phenomenon, Lang was not allowed to comment on that very much. There are a couple shots of blacks in the film, but they are extremely innocuous. Anything even more slightly controversial was excised at MGM's (and specifically Louis B. Mayer's) behest.

Fury's structure is very unusual, contributing even more to its unpredictable, captivating nature. It begins as an almost bland romance while Lang sets up the characters and their slightly exaggerated innocence, turns into an interesting hardship film, briefly becomes a road movie, switches gears again when Wilson is arrested, and actually presents a profoundly impactful climax at the midway point--it seems as if the film could end there. The second half makes a major u-turn as what could be seen as an extended tag/dénouement becomes an in-depth courtroom drama that builds to a second climax. The second half allows Lang to explore the same vengeance mentality as the first half, except from an individual rather than the previous mob perspective.

Although the second climax denotes a fine work of art on its own--there are some very moving performances and developments towards the end of the courtroom stuff, the star attraction is the gradually building mob material in the middle. What begins as an annoyance for Wilson turns into widespread tragedy as the rumor mill gears up and easygoing conformism rears its ugly head. Of course it is well known that Lang came to America to escape Nazi Germany, where he had been asked to act as Hitler's minister of film, so Fury, although sometimes criticized as a commercial film for Lang, certainly had personal poignancy for him. Lang shows rumors gradually distending in a game of "Telephone" with serious consequences, and inserts a humorous shot of chickens to symbolize "clucking women". He shows how easily a situation can go from those kinds of increasingly misreported claims to dangerous action due to conformism. Most folks are shown as all too eager to go along with the crowd and avoid local conflict.

For a few moments, the mob mentality leads to a situation that presages John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13 (1976). And overall, Fury is sometimes said to have anticipated film noir. However, despite some highly stylistic shots, such as the early, shimmering reflections of rain soaked windows on opposing walls, or the almost comically exaggerated action/reaction shots of the mob in full force (some of the more poignant material in the film), much of Fury's cinematography is more pedestrian. In his interview with Peter Bogdanovich that serves as the bulk of the DVD's "director's commentary", Lang states that he prefers simple, straightforward cinematography, to emphasize realism, or "truth". That may sound odd coming from the man who gave us Metropolis (1927), but at least for Fury, it is consistent.

But this isn't a flawless film. A few dramatic transitions are awkward, including two very important ones--the initial "capture" of Wilson, which is fairly inexplicable, and the final scene of the film, which leaves a significant dangling thread. But the underlying concepts, the performances and more often than not the technical aspects of the film work extremely well, making Fury an important film to watch.


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