Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Son of Fury|
Actors: Leonard Carey, John Carradine, Harry Cording, James Craven, Harry Davenport
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama
Entitled to inherit his deceased father's estate and title, child aristocrat Benjamin Blake (Roddy McDowall) is instead kept as a bond-servant to his villainous uncle ( George Sanders). When Blake, now a young man (Tyrone... more »
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SON of FURY: A Lesson in Anger Management
Joseph T. Rodolico | 09/02/2007
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"Son of Fury heralds the dawn of Tyrone Power and Gene Tierney as a romantic duo that would later become legendary. Beautifully photographed and acted, director John Cromwell kept this classic well within the boundaries set by the script. The film, however, does challenge other boundaries: those of compassion, tolerance and love as the antidote to anger. Son of Fury is the story of one man's quest for justice, vindication and liberation from the cruel bonds of oppression, for himself and others.
Benjamin Blake (Tyrone Power) fights to claim the estate and title, stolen by usurper Sir Arthur Blake (George Sanders) his uncle, which rightfully belong to him by inheritance. Beginning in childhood, Benjamin is forced to work in the manor's stables as a bonded servant, and subjected to repeated beatings and humiliation. Benjamin and Sir Arthur mirror each other perfectly; Benjamin appearing an outwardly, gruff-looking, smelly stable boy, but inwardly compassionate and noble, while Sir Arthur, scheming and cruel, wears the guise of a polished, perfumed, well-mannered aristocrat. Both characters succumb to fits of fury; one due to outrage at injustice and brutality, the other due to envy, lust for power and privilege. But, Ben possesses an indomitable spirit that Sir Arthur attempts to break time and time again. His nobility is intrinsic, while Sir Arthur's is the labor of violence and fraud. Ben's courage and determination must spell final ruin for the imposter. Rage serves neither of them well; for Ben is always being slapped down, or hounded by the authorities, while Sir Arthur's never succeeds in breaking him.
Sir Arthur, a true champion in the blue blood boxing ring, does not hesitate to engage in unsportsmanlike conduct when he deems it necessary in defending his other purloined title; no Marquis of Queensbury rules here. On one occasion, he escorts his rival to the stable, and challenges the now grown-up, highly insubordinate Ben to a contest in the manly art of self-defense. As the two remove their jackets, Sir Arthur catches the unsuspecting lad off-guard with a sucker punch; hardly a sign good-breeding. Upon gaining the initiative, Sir Arthur goes on the offensive, and proceeds to pummel the real heir mercilessly. Sensing that fists are inadequate tools of punishment for the intensity of his rage, he horse-whips poor Ben into unconsciousness, and in the process -- nearly passes out himself -- from delirium brought on by the shear fury of the thrashing. Sir Arthur expends his physical and spiritual energy to exhaustion in the course of abusing Ben; a condition observed by those intervening on the young man's behalf. It must be noted that in today's cinema, it is often the protagonist who employs underhanded means to gain the better of an opponent; be it the sucker punch or a shot below the belt (a sign of rage?). At the hands of Sir Arthur, Ben experiences the insufferable tyranny inflicted on the lower classes by high-mind aristocrats, and learns of the need for kindness and humane treatment of his fellow beings regardless of breeding, social status or race.
By now, Benjamin has had enough, and, risking imprisonment and death decides to escape the estate, and sail away to make his fortune. While fleeing from the long arm of the law, he is sheltered by Bristol Isabel (Elsa Lanchester), a member of the lower class and a woman of questionable repute. Sensing the underlying nobility and kindness within him, being the kind of woman who knows men well, she quickly befriends Ben, and assists him in evading police capture. Elsa Lanchester is lovely, utterly charming; and sparkles in this wonderful performance. Pity, she is mainly remembered for her role as the bride of Frankenstein.
Benjamin finally gives the police the slip, and signs on to the crew of a merchantman bound for the far side of the world. After more rough treatment on the long voyage at the hands of a surly crew, he jumps ship with Caleb Green (John Carradine), while in sight of a tropical island in the Pacific. Initially, the two receive a rather frosty welcome for such a warm, sunny place. It seems that the natives, none of whom speak English, or any other European language for that matter, have been suffering from white-man fatigue as a legacy of whippings, beatings and plunder from previous visits by seafaring "traders." But, one look at Blake's scarred back is enough to convince the chief that his people and these strangers share a common bond, so he embraces them. At the time this film was released, war in the Pacific was raging. American forces found Pacific islanders eager to cooperate in intelligence operations, for Japanese occupation had left a very bitter taste in their mouths.
With his feet on terra firma once again, Blake plans to return to England, and oust Sir Arthur. But first, he has to make his fortune by diving for pearls. The shoals around the island, stacked with oysters, yield a rich harvest, however they reveal more than just pearls. Surfacing after one dive, Ben discovers the most beautiful gem, enchanting Gene Tierney, perched on a rock, a "human mermaid," his Eve. Tierney is utterly captivating as the native girl who seduces Blake. During a night-time, gala celebration, she performs a dance that begs to be played over and over again - thank goodness for DVD! In loving her, Blake breaks the racial taboo of miscegenation in an era of intolerance, not only, for the time period of the film, but for audiences of 1942, when war hysteria and xenophobia were whipped up to the fullest. Loyal Americans of Japanese ancestry, among other groups, were incarcerated in US concentration camps for the duration of the war.
As characteristic of films shot in the pre-dawn years of small screen TV, Son of Fury moves along at a brisk pace, thanks to the adept hands of a talented film editor, and contains none of the time-burning, close-ups and long, idol-worshipping shots so prevalent in later Hollywood films. The cast and crew of this film, possessed with a marvelous sense of equilibrium, did an exceptionally good job of combining all the elements of moviemaking into a well-balanced work. Son of Fury is a splendid example of the economical mastery of media characteristic of great artists. Every shot is a masterpiece of cinematography, every part exquisitely played to the fullest, but never overdone. The quality of video and audio is very good, and does final justice to the story of Benjamin Blake.