aka The Sound of Fury
This flavorful “B” film from producer Robert Stillman and director Cyril Endfield packs a wallop and it’s stark location shoot and non-movie star faces that flood the background only add to it’s overall impact and authenticity. The opening scene of a street preacher is up close and eerie, easily setting the tone for what is to follow.
Taking the lead role is Frank Lovejoy as a down on his luck worker trying to secure a job. He has few prospects and a pregnant wife and young son at home that he is struggling to support. After another spat over their lack of funds, he storms out and seeks solace at the local bar/bowling alley. It’s here we’re introduced to a well dressed, brash and cocky Lloyd Bridges.
Also sitting at the bar by chance is Richard Carlson who will figure more prominently in the plot as it approaches the final reel.
Bridges begins to take Lovejoy in to his confidence, he’s a success, has money to burn and nothing but the best clothes on his back because he robs corner stores. Needs a driver and Lovejoy is the perfect pigeon in need of a job. “Relax,” Bridges tells him as they pull up to a late night gas station. There’s been a rash of these robberies and it’s Carlson who is the reporter doing the newspaper articles covering them. Bridges’ swagger and ego shines brighter as he reads his own clippings.
While Bridges is full of life and fire, Lovejoy is the opposite. Guilt is eating away at him and the lies he tells his wife at home. Things are going to get a whole lot worse when Bridges concocts a kidnapping scheme that goes violently wrong. The duo kidnap a young man whose father is well to do. It isn’t long before Lovejoy finds himself an accessory to murder as Bridges kills their captive in a gruesome fashion that one wouldn’t normally see in most 1950 films other then perhaps the strong Noir films that Anthony Mann had been steadily putting out.
Thus the duo’s fates are now tied together.
Bridges acts as is nothing has changed, he’s stil the confident ladies man while Lovejoy drowns his sorrows in a bottle which will ultimately lead to their downfall. Once the killers are incarcerated, it’s newsman Carlson’s articles that send the readers over the edge bringing chaos and misguided judgement to the proceedings.
Not wanting to spoil the finale, I will say that when Bridges realizes his impending doom is upon him, he lets loose like I’ve never seen him do in his many films and TV appearances and it’s the highlight of the film.
This may be a stylish film but it’s definitely downbeat. The script was written by Jo Pagano that he adapted from his own novel The Condemned. Lovejoy and Bridges do very well with their roles though the characters are worlds apart. We’ve seen many partners in crime films like this since where one is the dominant force and the other is weak and easily preyed upon. One has no conscience while the other cannot live with his guilt.
It adds up to a rather somber film but considering the era in which it was produced, it proves to be a bit ahead of it’s time. The copy I have if you are looking for one is an old VHS release but thankfully we can all upgrade now as it’s been given a proper blu ray release from the fine people at Olive Films who continue to spotlight some long forgotten gems.