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Imperfect justice : Fritz Lang's Fury (1936) and cinema's use of the trial form

By Stella Bruzzi

Abstract

This essay examines Fritz Lang's portrayal and use of justice in his first Hollywood film, Fury (1936) a film in which the main character, Joe Wilson (played by Spencer Tracy) is mistakenly arrested for a crime he did not commit. Lang was one of many notable German émigrés who fled Nazi Germany for America and eventually Hollywood. He returned on several occasions to the theme of justice, which is my starting point for this article. Before analysing Fury in detail, in particular its final trial scene, the article compares the film briefly to other Lang films about the law such as Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. Lang's conception of justice differs from the dominant Hollywood view of the law, a realisation that is discussed in relation to other depictions of the law in Hollywood (such as Twelve Angry Men, To Kill a Mockingbird). In Lang's cinema, the law is not a fixed, stable and trustworthy institution, but rather one that is gullible and open to abuse. Lang places more faith in notions of personal moral justice, which win out in the end in Fury. This article also contextualises Fury and the work of Fritz Lang within existing discussions of the law and film, from which Lang is largely and notably absent

Topics: PN1993
Publisher: Hart Publishing Ltd.
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:3426

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