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TRY AND GET ME (aka: THE SOUND OF FURY) (director: Cy Endfield; screenwriter: from the novel The Condemned by Jo Pagano/Mr. Pagano; cinematographer: Guy Roe; editor: George J. Amy; music: Hugo W. Friedhofer; cast: Frank Lovejoy (Howard Tyler), Kathleen Ryan (Judy Tyler), Richard Carlson (Gil Stanton), Lloyd Bridges (Jerry Slocum), Katherine Locke (Hazel Weatherwax), Adele Jergens (Velma), Art Smith (Hal Clendenning), Renzo Cesana (Dr. Vito Simone), Donald Smelick (Tommy Tyler), Irene Vernon (Helen Stanton), Cliff Clark (Sheriff Demig); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Robert Stillman; Republic; 1950)
“One of the most powerful statements ever from a Hollywood film about the class divide in America.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Cy Endfield’s brilliant crime thriller Try and Get Me, originally titled The Sound of Fury, is based on the novel The Condemned by Jo Pagano. Mr. Pagano based it on a factual episode that occurred in 1933, when two men were arrested in San Jose, California, for kidnapping and murdering Brooke Hart. The suspects confessed and were lynched by a mob of locals. Endfield’s social consciousness film hits hard at uncontrolled violence in small-town America in much the same way as did Fritz Lang’s Fury (also based on the same factual episode). The director was soon after making this film blacklisted due to his leftist positions on social and political issues. It’s a superb characterization of America’s thirst for crime and violence; one of the most powerful statements ever from a Hollywood film about the class divide in America and the yellow rag press that incites the public with poisonous newspaper coverage to sell papers (in modern times think NY Post or Fox cable TV). It calls attention to something about the ‘cowboy attitude’ in Americans that they don’t like to acknowledge about themselves, but Europeans are quite aware of how uncivilized Americans can be.

World War 11 vet Howard Tyler (Frank Lovejoy) is depressed because he’s unemployed and can’t support his pregnant wife Judy (Kathleen Ryan) and his young son Tommy. He moved from Boston, Mass,, to Santa Sierra, California, in the hope his rotten luck would change, but he can’t find an honest job. With that in mind, he lets his guard down when a big-spending stranger he meets in a bowling alley, Jerry Slocum (Lloyd Bridges), tempts him to be his driver in nighttime stickups of grocery stores. Slocum turns out to be unbalanced, and ups the ante in the petty crime spree by kidnapping the young adult son of a wealthy family for the ransom money and in a panic unnecessarily kills him.

The third act becomes a humanist plea for sanity in a world filled with hatred. Italian professor, Dr. Vito Simone, a guest in the home of the American reporter Gil Stanton (Richard Carlson), lectures him on his part in falsely stirring up the public in order to sell papers and not caring about the consequences of his poisonous words. Stanton’s stinging articles about the crime wave irresponsibly sensationalized the events and enraged the crowd so much they were in a mood for a lynching, and when the two were arrested after Howard confessed the small jail was stormed and the prisoners were beaten to death. The European scientist insists such criminal problems must be solved by reason and not hate. His plea for a world morality based on humanism is seen as an anti-McCarthy plea for reason. Though the film made its point well before the professor delivered his lecture, reducing this message to being unnecessary, nevertheless this awkward moment doesn’t ruin the power of this relevant and tension-filled film noir.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”