Friday, August 13, 2010
I think Fury is one of Fritz Lang's good films, but it hardly measures up to masterpieces like M or The Big Heat. Lang's first American production, Fury starts off a bit like Hitchcock's The Wrong Man. We get a picture of a man and a woman who are perfectly happy and getting ready to be married. But their relationship is jeopardized when the man is accused of a crime based on some suspicious circumstantial evidence. We know the man is innocent, but no one else does, and soon the town gets fed up with the uncertainty. A mob is formed and it makes its way to the city jail where it breaks down the door and swarms in like a group of termites. Acting under the usual mob mentality, the angry people burn down the jail, which supposedly kills the man. This major turn of events came across as slightly far-fetched, simply because I don't think the confusion warranted such a vicious attack. Why would the people get so angry? I know what causes mobs, but I still don't quite get why this was neccesary? Well, regardless, the man is thought to be killed in the fire and the members of the mob are put on trial for murder. The movie then becomes a courtroom drama, but we know that the jury won't decide if the mob should be convicted. Just before the trial, the man returns home and stays in hiding as the trial proceeds. The man, bitter and angry, wants to wait and watch the mob convicted of murder. Fury lives up to its title by evoking strong passion and anger not just in the mob, but the man who's ordeal is clearly beyond imaginable horror for him. My guess is that before the incident, he lived a pretty sheltered life. The man is played by Spencer Tracy, who's perfectly cast as a likable everyday working class American citizen. He's the most ordinary man thrown into the most extraordianry situation. The film's ending is obviously a result of Hollywood's need for closure. It's a neat, tidy, and happy conclusion and doesn't really work with the mood Lang has instituted. But Lang's American career was not completely compromised by the studios. Just look at The Big Heat. I think Lang worked best when he was not weighed down by studio manipulation. But even when he was, his work was still effective.