classified PG

When Europe Made Hollywood: From Sunrise to High Noon


Please note: This was screened in July 2022

Fritz Lang
Sylvia Sidney, Spencer Tracy, Walter Abel, Bruce Cabot
92 mins, 1936, USA
Primary language

“Fritz Lang's first American film, made in 1936, remains one of his most powerful and fully achieved; the pitiless overhead camera angle, which carries such force in many of his other films, has a particular impact here when it appears in an impromptu documentary, a film within the film, of a near lynching that is used as courtroom evidence.” Jonathan Rosenbaum

After fleeing Nazi Germany in the early 1930s shortly after The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (screening on Sat 23 July 15:30) was completed and banned, Fritz Lang wanted to get a sense of American culture and society and took a road trip where he came across alarming contemporary stories of mob rule.

Set in a fictional small town and based on a true story, Fury becomes a searing indictment of mob justice and lynching which chillingly still resonates with last year’s storming of the US Capitol. The film is given tremendous intensity by the naturalistic performances of leads Spencer Tracy, as the man unjustly accused, and Sylvia Sidney as his fiancé, enhanced by Joseph Ruttenberg's deliberately expressionistic lighting. Lang, a great social observer, recognised the parallel between German’s complicity in Hitler’s rise to power with that of people in small American towns who became complicit in the lynchings. Fury is still a striking cautionary tale.

Presented in collaboration with Film Noir UK.