The Sound of Fury (aka Try and Get Me!, US, 1950)

The-Sound-of-Fury-1950-1

Katherine Locke as the ‘wallflower’

Blimey!

In my trawl through films noir I haven’t seen The Sound of Fury is a real find. A short Internet search shows me that it is (relatively) well known but there doesn’t seem to be a video copy available (I saw it on FilmFour).

It’s based on Joe Pagano’s novel (and adapted by him) The Condemned which was derived from real events that happened in San Jose in 1933. The film starts off following family man Howard (Frank Lovejoy) who is desperate for work. He falls in with ‘wide boy’ Jerry (played with demented vigour by Lloyd Bridges) who leads him off the ‘straight and narrow’. Some of the early scenes have a documentary feel emphasising that Frank’s predicament was experienced (and still is) by many; even though he is a good guy trying to provide (this was the patriarchal ‘50s) for his wife and kid, society gives him nothing. As things spiral out of control director, Cyril Endfield goes expressionist as guilt, booze and the attentions of a desperate ‘wallflower’ (Hazel) send him over the edge.

Hazel’s played by Katherine Locke who was better known as a stage actor; here she is simply sensational. I mentioned a few posts back the impact Claire Trevor made in a small role in Dead End; Locke is even better. She conveys the desperation of a woman who feels her looks are fading and her chance of ‘love and romance’ hang by a thread. She manages to convey her fears and hopes in her facial expressions with dazzling speed as she tries to believe that Frank (who is only with her for an alibi) might be the ‘one’.

The climax of the film is truly terrifying and brilliantly staged by Endfield who is better known as Cy Endfield the director of Hell Drivers (UK, 1957) and Zulu (UK, 1964). He was blacklisted by HUAC, directed under a pseudonym for a number of years and moved to Britain. The mob scene at the end has a newsreel quality that makes it even more effective. It’s rare to see a film that mixes so many visual styles and it works brilliantly.

Truly terrifying

The only false note the film strikes is through the character of a visiting lecturer who mouths the social message. However, maybe Pagano was right that the audience for the film at the time needed to be explicitly told that mob rule is wrong. Richard Carlson plays the newspaper man guilty of whipping up the violent fervour and he does well even though the role is slightly underwritten; his sensationalism could have been made clearer.

That said, The Sound of Fury is a great film. Fritz Lang’s 1936 Fury was based on the same events and it would be interesting to compare them. I haven’t seen the Lang for nearly 40 years; I doubt it’s better than this. Further reading here.

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3 Responses

  1. This certainly sounds worth seeing. It has an amazing cast. I’ve seen Frank Lovejoy recently in Ida Lupino’s films and he’s the police detective in In a Lonely Place, along with Art Smith who plays Bogart’s agent and also a role in Try and Get Me! The casting of the Irish actress Kathleen Ryan as Judy Tyler is odd. She was in Carol Reed’s Odd Man Out in 1947 but this is her only American film (until an obscure title in 1969). I think the link is HUAC. Ryan was cast in Give Us This Day (1949) the film Edward Dmytryk made in the UK after running away from the HUAC hearings. Perhaps he recommended her to Endfield? When she returned to Ireland, Ryan appeared in Sirk’s Captain Lightfoot (1955).

  2. […] The Sound of Fury (aka Try and Get Me!, US, 1950) […]

  3. […] Cy Endfield, who directed The Sound of Fury, Joseph Losey found himself in Britain after being blacklisted by HUAC. That Losey fell foul of […]

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