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>
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 »
When a stone is thrown through the window at the jail house the sheriff goes over to check it out. There are bars on the window when he first looks out; after they pan back from the people outside, the bars are clearly no longer on the window. See more »
If those people die, Joe Wilson dies too; you know that, don't you? Wherever you go, whatever you do.
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Where we see how injustice always breeds more of the same.
Eighty years after its first release, this story of mob violence in USA is a savage indictment of the American system of mob "justice" from the 1880s to the 1960s. The fictional events of this movie, based upon a true incident, took place in the 1930s. Produced by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, directed by Fritz Lang, it stars Spencer Tracy and Sylvia Sidney in the key roles; with an excellent supporting cast, this is a story that stands the test of time.
I won't comment much on the plot and the story, both of which have been adequately addressed by the storyline on the main IMDb page, and a ton of detailed reviews here.
However, without Lang and Mankiewicz on this production, the dramatic irony would not, I think, have been as effectively portrayed - for two reasons. First, Lang coming from a Germany where Nazism was ascendant, knew all too well what injustice was all about and how people can prostitute their principles for what is perceived as justifiable retribution. Second, Mankiewicz was a highly experienced actor/producer/director who has shown, throughout his career, that injustice in all its forms must be shown for the evil it is. With such a combination at the reel wheel, this movie was guaranteed to be hard-hitting.
Lang's direction is very much on form, using lighting and shadow for full effect; using close up, quick editing in mob scenes; using the camera in extreme close up to ensure viewers note a particular item; and cross-cutting and inter-cutting scenes to heighten suspense. Not the first director to use those techniques, but Lang was a master at it.
For the most part, the script and dialog are excellent. My only critique centers upon the courtroom scenes and dialog which, by today's standards, are somewhat stagy; the repartee, between the prosecution and defense counsels, is particularly so, too often for this viewer. And the very last scene, seemingly preachy and even corny, which involves a long verbal exchange between the judge (Burton) and one of the main characters, can only be fully appreciated in the context of the times: a long history of lynching across the USA, an economy in the midst of a Great Depression and a nation on the cusp of another world war.
For Lang enthusiasts, Fury is a must see movie, despite the presence of a couple of handy coincidences, an improbable result with the use of dynamite and a glaring loose end - at the very end. Still, this is a movie that should be seen by all, and one I heartily recommend. Eight out of ten.
April 24, 2015
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