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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Try and Get Me! (The Sound of Fury) (Blu-ray)
Try and Get Me! (The Sound of Fury) (Blu-ray)
Olive Films // Unrated // April 19, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Stuart Galbraith IV | posted April 25, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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Try and Get Me! (1950), originally titled The Sound of Fury, is an excellent, virtually unknown film noir-social commentary film from director Cy Endfield. A former theater director and member of Orson Welles's Mercury Theater/Mercury Productions, Endfield made this and another great noir, The Underworld Story, almost back-to-back, but was blacklisted the following year and fled to England. There, he continued making impressive films in varied genres, including Hell Drivers (1957), Mysterious Island (1961), and the epic Zulu (1964). Like Orson Welles, Endfield was a practicing magician and in later years worked to develop pocket-sized computers.

Try and Get Me! is quite unusual. The first half plays like an antecedent to In Cold Blood (1967), while its even grimmer second half (spoilers) resembles a present-day Ox-Bow Incident (1943), here more from the perspective of yellow journalists. It's heavily stylized in the manner of classical noir but in other ways naturalistic. It has no stars in the usual sense but several outstanding performances. As Leonard Maltin writes in his TV Movies review, it deserves to be better known.

Olive Films' Blu-ray of this United Artists release and licensed from Paramount (via their Republic Pictures library, perhaps), looks outstanding though has no extra features.

Working-class everyman Howard Tyler (Frank Lovejoy), his wife, Judy (Kathleen Ryan), and son, Tommy (Donald Smelick), have relocated from Boston to the American Southwest, but he's unable to find work, growing increasingly depressed. She's pregnant again but they can't afford a doctor, they're behind in the bills, and impose upon their neighbors for help.

At a bowling alley Tyler meets a charismatic drifter, Jerry Slocum (Lloyd Bridges), who offers Tyler a job as a driver for a series of small-time, roadside robberies. Reluctant but desperate, Tyler finally agrees and is soon flush with money, though he lies to his wife by claiming to working a third-shift job and, riddled with guilt, begins drinking heavily.

Slocum ups the ante by kidnapping the adult son of a wealthy local, but when their remote hideout turns out to be occupied by young lovers, Slocum murders the man in cold blood and with Tyler's help disposes the body. Tyler is further horrified when Slocum plans to send a ransom note regardless, carefully mailing it from a town many miles away. As cover while visiting the town to mail the ransom letter, Slocum arranges a double date with his moll, voluptuous Velma (Adele Jergens), and her lonely spinster companion, Hazel (Katherine Locke).

The film was based on the same incident adapted by Fritz Lang into the more optimistic Spencer Tracy film Fury (1936). (More spoilers) In 1933 Brooke Hart, the 22-year-old son of a department store owner, was kidnapped and murdered. Two men, Thomas Harold Thurmond and John M. Holmes, were charged with the crime but before their trial, spurred on by lurid newspaper and live radio accounts, a crowd of between 3,000-10,000 stormed the courthouse and a mob (consisting mostly of college students) lynched the men before an audience that included women and children.

The latter half of the picture is shocking and realistically done while condemning the kind of sensational crime reporting commonplace in 1950 as it was in 1933. In the movie, Richard Carlson (It Came from Outer Space) plays Gil Stanton, a breezy reporter who thinks the two suspects are getting what they deserve, until Tyler's wife reads a moving letter written by Tyler after his arrest, describing his guilt, urging her to forget him and to start over. For Stanton, Tyler's letter humanizes the reporter while never excusing Tyler's participation in the crimes.

Part of the success of that scene is due to the sensitive performance of Kathleen Ryan, one of the great Irish beauties, like a more demure, less fiesty Maureen O'Hara, and best known for the great British-made Irish thriller Odd Man Out (1947). The daughter of Séamus Ryan (a member of the Irish Senate and a Republican activist in the Irish War of Independence), she made relatively few films, but was immortalized in Louis le Brocquy's famous portrait, Girl in White (1941).

Lovejoy had a great radio voice, and at the time starred on the popular series Night Beat. He flirted with stardom in the early 1950s, with The Hitch-Hiker and House of Wax (both 1953) being the most famous, but he was neither handsome in the traditional Hollywood sense nor craggy or rugged enough to stand out like a Humphrey Bogart or Robert Ryan. He's fine in Try and Get Me!, however, particularly in his squirmily tense scenes with Locke's Hazel. She's attracted to him to the point of being clingy, he's uncomfortable with having to lie to her about his marital status. Drunk and consumed with guilt besides, he 's even worse off than the degrading miseries he'd suffered while poor. Like Ryan, Locke made few films, and was primarily a Broadway actress, who famously had played Ophelia in Hamlet. Lloyd Bridges was still relatively unknown at this point in his career. He tends to overact as Tyler's cocky, remorseless partner, but near the end, with the mob outside the courthouse ready to lynch him at any moment, he's like an insane caged animal, very effective.

Mostly shot on location in Phoenix, the picture is very naturalistic in the sense that the art direction and so forth is down-to-earth and believable, and the dialogue Tyler has with his wife especially has real emotional verisimilitude. At the same time Endfield couples typically noir camera iconography (Dutch angles, etc.) with much originality, more or less becoming increasingly expressionist as Tyler's boozing and nightmares about his crimes overwhelm him. Endfield seems particularly interested in showing his characters play out scenes in reflections (mirrors, pools of water) and uses a pounding audio motif, a reminder of Slocum's murder of the young man. The movie opens with a pre-titles sequence that later is revealed as a flash-forward, and then, highly unusual, the movie opens in real time under the opening titles, complete with dialogue and action, getting the show rolling at once.

Indeed, Try and Get Me! would be nearly perfect if not for the superfluous moralizing of Stanton's Italian-immigrant mathematician friend (Renzo Cesana), who in what plays like tacked-on scenes lays it all out for audiences unable to grasp the obvious.

Video & Audio

Try and Get Me! looks razor sharp throughout, with only title elements and a few dissolves looking less than perfect. Presented in its original 1.37:1 aspect ratio, the black-and-white film bears the Try and Get Me! title. Whether any changes footage-wise were made when, during its run, The Sound of Fury was retitled, is unknown, but it appears that version no longer exists. The DTS-HD Master Audio mono is fine, and optional English subtitles are offered. The disc is region A encoded and includes no Extra Features.

Parting Thoughts

Bleak but riveting, Try and Get Me! is a great unknown noir, almost revelatory, and a DVD Talk Collector Series title.

Stuart Galbraith IV is the Kyoto-based film historian and publisher-editor of World Cinema Paradise. His documentary and commentary, for the British Film Institute's Blu-ray of Rashomon, as is his commentary track for Arrow Video's Battles without Honor and Humanity. boxed set.

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