Screening on Film
Directed by Fritz Lang.
With Spencer Tracy, Sylvia Sidney, Walter Abel.
US, 1936, 35mm, black & white, 94 min.
Print source: HFA

It would be difficult to think of another Hollywood film to take such a corrosive view of American democracy as Fury. Begun a full year after Lang left Europe, the director’s first American film stars Spencer Tracy and Sylvia Sidney as innocent lovers whose lives are derailed when Tracy is mistaken for a kidnapper and pursued by a lynch mob. Lang precisely evokes the grotesque carnival atmosphere of the lynching, though the film finally settles into an unsparing study of the monstrous impulses of revenge. Tracy was the first of many Hollywood stars to complain about Lang’s dictatorial direction, and yet it is difficult to argue with the glowering performance that emerges as his character attempts to stage-manage the trial of his would-be lynchers. The key piece of evidence brought against the townspeople is a newsreel film identifying the assailants in the midst of their murderous rampage, an eloquent figure for Lang’s conviction in cinema as the privileged medium for revealing humanity’s darkest tendencies.

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The Complete Fritz Lang

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The Dark Worlds of Fritz Lang – Part Two

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