For the Love of Film (Noir) Blog-A-Thon: The Sound of Fury (1950)

The For the Love of Film (Noir) Blog-A-Thon began yesterday, and it’s my turn to jump in. The monster-sized Lloyd Bridges stomping on a panicked populace gives my subject away: The Sound of Fury (aka Try and Get Me!, 1950).  This whole event is raising money for the Film Noir Foundation’s efforts to restore it (Donate here!). Cy Endfield’s 1950 scorcher about a botched kidnapping job and the mob frenzy that follows is available to watch now on Netflix Instant, so everyone can see how important it is to get pristine 35mm prints of this back into circulation.

BROOKE HART

Jo Pagano adapted his own 1947 novel, The Condemned, into the screenplay, which is a fictionalized version of the  murder of Brooke Hart in 1933. The same incident was also the basis for Fritz Lang’s Fury (1936). Hart was the son of a successful department store owner in San Jose, California.  Thomas Harold

Thurmond and John M. Holmes drove Hart to the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge, hit him over the head with a concrete block, and tossed him into the San Francisco Bay. They then called Hart’s parents, demanding $40,000 for his release. After they were caught, the local papers spread the news that Thurmond and Holmes would plead insanity, enraging the populace. The Lindbergh Baby fiasco occurred the previous year, part of a wave of ransom kidnappings that hit Depression-scarred America, and people were in a vengeful mood. On November 27th, an angry mob stormed the jail, pulled out Thurmond and Holmes, and hung them until they were dead.

The Sound of Fury centers the story on one of the kidnappers, here named Howard Tyler (Frank Lovejoy). In Cy Endfield’s hard-bitten world, everyone is in it for the money. Howard is an out-of-work father, who moved his family to California with the hopes of hitting it big. Instead he drinks by himself at a bowling alley bar in the afternoon, where he spies Jerry Slocum (a styling Lloyd Bridges) knocking down pins. Jerry, smelling desperation, hooks Howard with the promise of a job offer. In a scene of startling homoeroticism, Jerry brings Howard to his apartment and shows off his rippling pectorals, urges him to feel his silken shirts, and then drops the offer to be his wheelman on some gas station robberies.

Howard reluctantly agrees, with the shadow of poverty inching over his unshaven visage. He starts coming home flush with cash, promising his wife a TV of their own and a full bag of potato chips for his son, who is startled at such abundance. It soon becomes clear that Jerry is equally desperate, running on cologne fumes and his own braggadocio. He’s filled with class resentment, a clotheshorse who can’t afford the best.   He comes up with the kidnapping scheme, partly out of greed, but also malice. When their victim says he gets his suits tailored in NYC, the look of apoplectic rage on Bridges’ face is overwhelming. Later, when he snaps and smashes a guy’s face in with a cinder block, it’s no surprise.

These two petty thieves are contrasted with Gil Stanton (Richard Carlson), an upwardly mobile newspaper columnist whose outdoor BBQ would feed Howard’s family for weeks. It’s his columns that stoke the city’s rage regarding Jerry’s crime, including their possible insanity defense. Endfield’s repeated emphasis on economic issues makes Gil’s world almost grotesque. He only agrees to cover the case because his editor promises him a bonus, and the editor is chasing the story because blood moves papers. Everyone is corrupted, but because of his upbringing Gil doesn’t have to choose between crime and starvation.

Once Howard and Jerry are imprisoned, the film’s POV shifts to Gil, who undergoes a moral conversion upon seeing the violent rage his columns have provoked in the public. This section is problematic, simply a series of moralizing speeches about the humanity of everyone, even killers. The rich atmospheres of the first two-thirds give way to Gil’s tasteful living room. Endfiled was clearly not as invested in Gil’s milquetoast character, or the middle-class milieu he inhabits. The richly drawn, neurotic characters of Jerry and Howard are let go for cardboard cut-outs of moral propriety.

But thankfully this is just an interim, for the kicker is the nerve-jangling lynching scene, shot with little dialogue and unflinching brutality. In roiling chiaroscuro, the mob tears through the ineffecutal puffs of tear gas and battles their way into the jail cells. Lloyd Bridges wrenches his face into a beaming psychotic grin, an act of stunning bravado in the face of certain death, as the lynch mob ranges closer. Frank Lovejoy, as Howard, had played it quiet and morose throughout, as if he were already beaten in the opening frame. When they drag him away, past the mute, beaten faces of Gil and the police officers, there is no one left to help, and no cash to set him free.

27 Responses For the Love of Film (Noir) Blog-A-Thon: The Sound of Fury (1950)
Posted By tom : February 15, 2011 3:45 pm

It’s times like these I would kill for Netflix to expand to the UK. I will have to seek it out another way to see what all the fuss is about!

Posted By tom : February 15, 2011 3:45 pm

It’s times like these I would kill for Netflix to expand to the UK. I will have to seek it out another way to see what all the fuss is about!

Posted By cinemafanatic : February 15, 2011 4:07 pm

I definitely need to see this one.

Posted By cinemafanatic : February 15, 2011 4:07 pm

I definitely need to see this one.

Posted By Ferdy on Films : February 15, 2011 5:25 pm

[...] Morlocks’ R. Emmet Sweeney provides a vital post on the film we’re raising money for: The Sound of Fury. Please read this post-haste to see what all this fuss is all [...]

Posted By Ferdy on Films : February 15, 2011 5:25 pm

[...] Morlocks’ R. Emmet Sweeney provides a vital post on the film we’re raising money for: The Sound of Fury. Please read this post-haste to see what all this fuss is all [...]

Posted By suzidoll : February 15, 2011 6:23 pm

Nice post RES. I will be participating in the For the Love of Film Noir Blog-a-thon tomorrow on the Facets blog at http://facetsfeatures.blogspot.com/. It’s a really good cause.

Posted By suzidoll : February 15, 2011 6:23 pm

Nice post RES. I will be participating in the For the Love of Film Noir Blog-a-thon tomorrow on the Facets blog at http://facetsfeatures.blogspot.com/. It’s a really good cause.

Posted By Joe Thompson : February 16, 2011 12:19 am

I need to look for this one. The lynching of Thurmond and Holmes was the last to-date in California. The case ruined the reputation of Governor Sunny Jim Rolph who had been mayor of San Francisco for many years. He refused to send the National Guard to protect the jail, and he praised the lynchers after they killed the kidnappers.

Posted By Joe Thompson : February 16, 2011 12:19 am

I need to look for this one. The lynching of Thurmond and Holmes was the last to-date in California. The case ruined the reputation of Governor Sunny Jim Rolph who had been mayor of San Francisco for many years. He refused to send the National Guard to protect the jail, and he praised the lynchers after they killed the kidnappers.

Posted By Jenni : February 16, 2011 12:35 am

Part of me thinks it would be fascinating to see Lloyd Bridges portray a nasty character, but the ending sounds like such a downer. On the fence about this one…

Posted By Jenni : February 16, 2011 12:35 am

Part of me thinks it would be fascinating to see Lloyd Bridges portray a nasty character, but the ending sounds like such a downer. On the fence about this one…

Posted By dukeroberts : February 16, 2011 1:01 am

Jenni- true noir is supposed to be a downer. It sounds awesome. I will be checking this out on Netflix as soon as I finish The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.

Posted By dukeroberts : February 16, 2011 1:01 am

Jenni- true noir is supposed to be a downer. It sounds awesome. I will be checking this out on Netflix as soon as I finish The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.

Posted By Jenni : February 16, 2011 11:52 am

I recently saw Pick Up on South Street, and yeah, it had it’s “downer” moments, but it had a happy ending. I would imagine it’s not the only noir with a similar ending, but probaby only a few have such.

Posted By Jenni : February 16, 2011 11:52 am

I recently saw Pick Up on South Street, and yeah, it had it’s “downer” moments, but it had a happy ending. I would imagine it’s not the only noir with a similar ending, but probaby only a few have such.

Posted By dukeroberts : February 16, 2011 9:24 pm

Lots of noir films have happy endings, but the “noiriest” of noir films end not so happily.

Posted By dukeroberts : February 16, 2011 9:24 pm

Lots of noir films have happy endings, but the “noiriest” of noir films end not so happily.

Posted By Wendy T. Merckel : February 17, 2011 6:11 pm

The Richard Carlson section sounds like Five Star Final, with Edward G. Robinson experiencing a moral conversion after his newspaper articles ruin an innocent family.

Posted By Wendy T. Merckel : February 17, 2011 6:11 pm

The Richard Carlson section sounds like Five Star Final, with Edward G. Robinson experiencing a moral conversion after his newspaper articles ruin an innocent family.

Posted By Hilary : February 17, 2011 6:14 pm

This has one of the most shocking endings in all film–not just noir. It’s as if the studio drama gives way to a you-are-there documentary crime in progress–it’s that striking.

Posted By Hilary : February 17, 2011 6:14 pm

This has one of the most shocking endings in all film–not just noir. It’s as if the studio drama gives way to a you-are-there documentary crime in progress–it’s that striking.

Posted By morlockjeff : February 17, 2011 11:50 pm

I’m also a fan of Enfield’s HELL DRIVERS (1957) with Stanley Baker, Patrick McGoohan & a young Sean Connery and have been wanting to see TRY AND GET ME for years. I will donate via PayPal for this but I would like to see – for a change – some of the big name Hollywood moguls who have become billionaires off the film industry step forward and make a conspicuous donation in the name of film preservation instead of just the fans as usual footing the bill. Meanwhile, Kudos to the Film Foundation for their perseverance in times where money for art or our culture/history is at the bottom of the list.

Posted By morlockjeff : February 17, 2011 11:50 pm

I’m also a fan of Enfield’s HELL DRIVERS (1957) with Stanley Baker, Patrick McGoohan & a young Sean Connery and have been wanting to see TRY AND GET ME for years. I will donate via PayPal for this but I would like to see – for a change – some of the big name Hollywood moguls who have become billionaires off the film industry step forward and make a conspicuous donation in the name of film preservation instead of just the fans as usual footing the bill. Meanwhile, Kudos to the Film Foundation for their perseverance in times where money for art or our culture/history is at the bottom of the list.

Posted By R. Emmet Sweeney : February 18, 2011 10:40 am

I agree with you wholeheartedly, Jeff, but the studios haven’t been totally absent. 20th Century Fox just funded the restoration of John Ford’s UPSTREAM. But of course they could be doing much more.

Also, HELL DRIVERS is quite wonderful, yes, with some starkly violent chase scenes. Endfield is a guy that requires far more investigation, and I should have noted he was blacklisted in 1951, a year after the blacklist allegory of THE SOUND OF FURY. I was too caught up in the strength of his style to give his work its proper context in my post.

And Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation is doing incredible work, but let’s also thank the Film Noir Foundation for pushing this particular restoration forward. And from what I’m reading on Facebook, they are lagging behind in donations, so if anyone has any spare cash around, please contribute.

Posted By R. Emmet Sweeney : February 18, 2011 10:40 am

I agree with you wholeheartedly, Jeff, but the studios haven’t been totally absent. 20th Century Fox just funded the restoration of John Ford’s UPSTREAM. But of course they could be doing much more.

Also, HELL DRIVERS is quite wonderful, yes, with some starkly violent chase scenes. Endfield is a guy that requires far more investigation, and I should have noted he was blacklisted in 1951, a year after the blacklist allegory of THE SOUND OF FURY. I was too caught up in the strength of his style to give his work its proper context in my post.

And Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation is doing incredible work, but let’s also thank the Film Noir Foundation for pushing this particular restoration forward. And from what I’m reading on Facebook, they are lagging behind in donations, so if anyone has any spare cash around, please contribute.

Posted By Surf : January 17, 2016 6:48 pm

Sea Hunt is regaining popularity. I found a great old Sea Hunt episode on

http://www.icineflix.com

Other great old Sci-Fi films also….

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