For the Love of Film Noir Dame Medium Size

This month I’m participating in the For the Love of Film (Noir) Blogathon. I caught on to last year’s too late to participate, but eighty-one other film bloggers raised $30,000 in donations and matching funds for film preservation. Two early shorts were saved.

This year’s beneficiary is the Film Noir Foundation. Headed by Eddie Muller, the foundation promotes the “cultural, historical, and artistic significance of film noir as an original American cinematic movement.” They organize screenings and festivals like Noir City, and they fund film restoration and preservation.

I’m excited to help a local organization restore a film, which probably will screen at the Castro Theatre when done.  The blogathon’s organizers (Ferdy on Films and The Self-Styled Siren) have announced which film everyone’s efforts will save. It’s The Sound of Fury (aka Try and Get Me). My husband and I watched this noir on a VHS tape via inter-library loan a couple of years ago, and the film has stuck with me despite seeing it in that diminished state.

For one thing, the plot is based on a true story that occurred not far from where we live. Back in the thirties, a department store heir was kidnapped and then gruesomely murdered. The real life incident outraged the public, and many formed an unruly mob outside the county jail where the suspects were being held. They wanted vigilante justice; they wanted to lynch the murderers.

I don’t want share further details in case you want to be surprised by the film’s ending, but I’ll tease you with this next tidbit. Director Cy Endfield filmed some of the most terrifying, fictionalized mob sequences I’ve ever seen. Those scenes will stay with you and stick in your mind.

So will Lloyd Bridges‘s portrayal of sociopath Jerry Slocum. If you’re a fan of Robert Mitchum‘s portrayals of Max Cady (Cape Fear) or Harry Powell (Night of the Hunter), then Bridges work in The Sound of Fury will impress you as well.

Though he’s better know for his TV work or his stints in the Airplane! series today, the Sound of Fury shows he had a great cinematic presence, especially when given material that worked his acting chops. Slocum is not a buy-the-numbers villain. Bridges shows what extreme narcissism can do to a man’s psyche, how it can detach him from others, how it can lead him to pleasure seeking and easy money, how it can lead him to mercilessly pursue that lifestyle, and how it even can lead to murder. Bridges pulls no punches, and he never once shows the weakness of rationalizing a killer or making him likable. Bridges is riveting as Slocum because Bridges shows how easy it is to be evil.

If I have not worked you up enough for the blogathon, then watch its commercial below. It’s full of sexy, seamy, smokey, slap-happy scenes of film noir.

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