I just watched a powerful film noir. Made in 1950 it features some great locations and an outstanding performance by Lloyd Bridges. For my money this is one of his best. He plays an amoral killer named Jerry and he steals the show.
Is This The Same Alley Where The Dude Would Learn To Bowl?
We start out following the story of Howard Tyler( Frank Lovejoy). he’s an out of work regular schmoe whose wife is pregnant and who owes the grocery store and the landlord. He can’t get a job to save his life and when his wife starts bawling he grabs his coat and hits the street. Unfortunately for him he drops in at a local bowling alley for a beer and bumps into Jerry Slocum (LLoyd Bridges). If only he hadn’t gone into that particular bowling alley at theat particular moment. But it’s a Noir Universe our schlubby hero has fallen into and as such, he’s Out Of Luck.
Don’t go in there! Get out while you can!
Howard watches Jerry roll a strike and they start talking, within instants Jerry is ordering Howard around. ” Get My shoes, will ya.” He tantalizes the poor schnook with the offer of a potential job and Howard is hooked like a trout in a lake.
The Reporter and The Incipient Criminal coincidentally rub elbows at the Bowling Alley Of Destiny.
Meanwhile in the very same bowling alley Gil Stanton (Richard Carlson), Ace Reporter for the local paper is kibitzing with the barkeep. His story is told in parallel with Howard’s although you don’t know why until later. So by now Jerry has Howard back at his flat where he proceeds to show off his expensive wardrobe and treat Howard like his personal valet. ” That’s real silk! Feel it. Those cufflinks are platinum, button’em up for me.”
The composition of this Shot says it all!
Jerry plays Howard like a fish and when he tells Howie the job he has in mind for him is driving the getaway car while Jerry sticks up gas stations, Howard gets cold feet. But Jerry gets mad, calls Howard a loser, throws 10 bucks at him and tells him to beat it. It plays out like a seduction and Lloyd is amazingly good at it. His character is so well drawn, so true, it’s a mind blower.
The 1st Stick-Up
The heat builds and Jerry and Howard pull off a kidnapping. This is the big score, they can make some real money now. Unfortunately Jerry smashes the trussed up young rich guy’s head with a rock before the horrified Howard’s eyes.
Murder Most Foul!
Sensationalistic Journalism, Go Peddle Your Papers
Just before this happens the reporter has a change of heart, due partly to an emotional visit from Howard’s wife. He tries to change his latest bloodthirsty editorial but the greedy publisher just wants to sell more papers and he’s not about to change his headline!
The Wife’s Best Scene, where she confronts the rabble rousing reporter
Howard is carried like Jesus to Golgotha!
It also hit home for me on a personal note. I had a friend , a very nice guy, he was a musician. Like a lot of musicians he augmented his income by dealing drugs, pot, then blow. He turned a big rock star onto some coke and the guy reciprocated by turning my pal onto some high grade heroin. My buddy got strung out in no time flat. The rock star had to suddenly split and my pal was cut off, no dope. He was cracking up. He told me he drove a getaway car for a stickup guy, a junkie like himself, just to get some money so he could score drugs. Now this was a guy who wouldn’t hurt a fly. He was an artist, peaceful, really a great guy. So when I see Howard roped into crime because of need, I flash on my pal. I could see how it could happen. My buddy’s dead by the way. He straightened up, got sober, got married and then found out he was HIV positive from sharing needles.
Sound Of Fury was directed by Cyril Endfield. He ended his days in England, forced to move there after he was blacklisted in the 50’s for being a Commie. This story was concerned with Society and the different types of people interacting in it, and how they viewed their morality , their responsibility to society, their identity. Cy Endfield later directed the excellent Zulu, the film that launched Michael Caine’s career. And if you think about it, Zulu is about a microcosm of society, a regiment of soldiers, hopelessly outnumbered, that perseveres through working together, a great story for a Socialist to tell.
Also of note, this film was written by Jo Pagano, based on her novel. I’d like to find out more about Ms. Pagano. A woman writing this ultra violent noir in the 50’s? She sounds pretty unique to me.
After writing the above line I captured this frame, it says based on his novel, so I guess Jo Pagano was a man. Although there is some confusion on the IMDB.