Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Fury (1936)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Fury (1936)

In director Fritz Lang's crime drama (his first American film) with a message about the dangers of mob violence:

  • the predicament: gas station manager Joe Wilson (Spencer Tracy) was wrongly-accused and arrested by Deputy "Bugs" Meyers (Walter Brennan) on child kidnapping charges in a different state - and jailed, because of circumstantial evidence - he had in his possession a $5 bill from the ransom money
  • the scene in which Joe's fiancee Katherine Grant (Sylvia Sidney) saw him behind flaming jailbars in a cell in the small midwestern town of Strand, that had been set on fire by a raging lynch mob, with Joe inside and screaming for his life; she fainted from fright
  • Joe had escaped death, revealed when he made a sudden, shadowy reappearance in a doorway at the apartment of his brothers Charlie (Frank Albertson) and Tom (George Walcott), where he recalled his escape from the jail when it was dynamited: ("I could smell myself burn"); he vowed to avenge his wrong-doing with a vengeful frame-up of the lynchers, while everyone continued to presume that he was dead: ("I'm burned to death by a mob of animals. I'm legally dead and they're legally murderers. That I'm alive's not their fault. But I know 'em. I know a lot of 'em and they'll hang for it, accordin' to the law which says if you kill somebody, you gotta be killed yourself. But I'll give 'em the chance they didn't give me. They'll get a legal trial in a legal courtroom. They'll have a legal judge and a legal defense. They'll get a legal sentence and a legal DEATH!")
  • he hid out during the trial as multiple lynch mob suspects (accused of Joe's first-degree murder) perjured themselves with dubious alibis; meanwhile, the real criminal kidnappers were caught, implying that Wilson was innocent all along
  • the moment after the reading of a special delivery letter (from an anonymous person) in the trial when Katherine saw the mis-spelled word "mementum" instead of momentum - convincing her that Joe was still alive
  • the prosecuting D.A. Adams (Walter Abel) projected newsreel film (via movie projector) to provide "stop-action" conclusive film evidence to identify the twenty-two individuals in the lynch mob who were complicit and guilty of the crime of the jail 'murder', after they had already given perjured testimony; newspaper headlines heralded: "IDENTITY OF 22 PROVED," "MOVIES IDENTIFY DEFENDANTS IN WILSON LYNCHING TRIAL," and "22 FACE DEATH"
Joe's Appearance at Trial of 22 Lynch Mob Members
Who "Murdered" Joe
Newsreel Evidence to Identify Guilty
Joe Speaking to Judge Before Guilty Verdict
  • the climactic ending scene when Joe realized that his frame-up had gone far enough and that he had become a vindictive, one-man 'lynch mob' himself; he strode into the courtroom and addressed Judge Daniel Hopkins (Frederick Burton) just before guilty verdicts were to be read for the 22 convicted individuals - in the film's final lines of dialogue: "I know that by coming here, I saved the lives of these twenty-two people, but that isn't why I'm here. I don't care anything about saving them. They're murderers. I know the law says they're not because I'm still alive, but that's not their fault. And the law doesn't know that a lot of things that were very important to me, silly things maybe, like a belief in justice, and an idea that men were civilized, and a feeling of pride that this country of mine was different from all others. The law doesn't know that those things were burned to death within me that night. I came here today for my own sake. I couldn't stand it anymore. I couldn't stop thinking about them with every step and every breath I took, and I didn't believe Katherine when she said... Katherine is the young lady who was going to marry me. Maybe someday after I've paid for what I did, they'll be a chance to begin again, and then maybe Katherine and I..." - he turned to kiss and embrace Katherine as the film ended on a hopeful and optimistic note

Katherine's Fearful View of Her Wrongly-Accused Fiancee Joe 'Dying' in a Flaming Jail

Thought to be Dead, Joe's Sudden Reappearance

Joe's Vow to Seek Revenge

Special Delivery Letter - A Clue That Joe Was Alive


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