Thursday, 7 August 2008

Fury (Fritz Lang, 1936)

Joe Wilson: I'll give them a chance that they didn't give me. They will get a legal trial in a legal courtroom. They will have a legal judge and a legal defence. They will get a legal sentence and a legal death.

Innocent Joe Wilson wants to have his revenge after he has almost been killed by an angry mob. The jury doesn’t know he’s still alive so the rioters may be sentenced to death…

At the beginning of the movie Joe Wilson (Spencer Tracy) is driving across the country to meet his girlfriend Katherine Grant (Sylvia Sidney). He is wrongly arrested as a kidnapper and held in a provincial town prison. Word spreads around town (its inhabitants are portrayed as greedy, intolerant hypocrites) that the criminal is in jail and an angry mob tries to lynch him and burn down the building.

Lang shows the people actually enjoying violence, burning the jail… It’s the hysterical mob that has escaped control… - it’s certainly an expression of the troubled times in the thirties…

However Joe’s girlfriend persuades him to show up in court:
Katherine: [to Joe] If those people die, Joe Wilson dies too; you know that, don't you? Wherever you go, whatever you do.

Critics state the MGM imposed a happy ending with Joe showing up and therefore the condemned mob avoided punishment.
However there seems to be no mercy for the villagers the from Lang. They don’t seem to have learned any lesson – the only relief when they see Joe alive is the relief of knowing they will not be condemned…