HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Thursday, April 14, 2016

TRY AND GET ME! -- DVD Review by Porfle

One of the more emotional film noirs I've seen, 1950's TRY AND GET ME! (aka "The Sound of Fury") is alternately tragic and terrifying, and altogether absorbing from start to finish.

Suffering from a jobless malaise that must've afflicted many returning WWII vets, Howard Tyler (Frank Lovejoy, HOUSE OF WAX, SHE'S BACK ON BROADWAY) is so desperate to improve the hardscrabble living conditions of his pregnant wife Judy (Kathleen Ryan) and young son that he falls in with small-time stickup man Jerry Slocum (Lloyd Bridges) as his getaway driver. 

Howard's basically a kindly, decent sort who dearly loves his family, making his rapid descent into the "dark side" all the more tragic.  Things inevitably escalate beyond his control when Jerry's big kidnapping scheme turns brutally lethal, at which point he not only finds his family slipping away from him but also sees himself portrayed by ambitious young local newspaperman Gil Stanton (Richard Carlson) as one of society's most vile monsters in a series of lurid and inciteful articles.

Much of TRY AND GET ME! is a wallow in richly-photographed film noir that can be appreciated by those who love a good black-and-white movie.  As Howard's situation worsens, the film takes on the anxious inevitability of a nightmare that's awash in deep shadows. 

Added to this is director Cyril Endfield's (ZULU DAWN, MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, TARZAN'S SAVAGE FURY) use of techniques such as Dutch angles, shooting from inside moving vehicles, and, in the final scenes, a stark, almost documentary style that heightens realism while reflecting a growing sense of fear and disorientation.

Frank Lovejoy's realistic, sincere performance perfectly conveys Howard's likable everyman qualities as we helplessly witness each stage of his growing despair and eventual downfall.  We feel his loving devotion to his family, and can almost forgive him when he falls in with Jerry Slocum in order to improve their lot. 

Lloyd Bridges, on the other hand, is perfect as the wiry, hyperactive, narcissistic sleazeball Slocum, a petty criminal itching to move up into kidnapping and extortion.  Interestingly, his courting of Howard to join him borders on the sexual--he almost seems to seduce Howard into his "alternate lifestyle" of crime, luring him back to his apartment and posing shirtless for him while he preens in the mirror and flaunts his indulgent fashion accessories.  

The rest of the cast is fine including Adele Jergens (ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE DAY THE WORLD ENDED) as the ideal blonde goodtime girl-slash-moll who thinks Jerry is "nature's gift to women."  In a touching performance, Katherine Locke is Hazel, a "lonely hearts" type to whom Howard reaches out for comfort and who sees him as potential soulmate material until his shocking secret comes out. 

THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON'S Richard Carlson is effective as well in one of his best non-monster-movie roles.  Sharp-eyed viewers may spot Joe Conley (Ike Godsey of "The Waltons") as a lynch mob extra and Yvette Vickers (ATTACK OF THE FIFTY-FOOT WOMAN) as a dancer in a nightclub where Joe E. Ross appears as an abrasive burlesque comic.

The script by Endfield and author Jo Pagano, who wrote the original novel "The Condemned", contrasts the darker material with nostalgic glimpses of a time long past in which bowlers tipped the pinsetter by rolling coins down the alley and people gathered in a neighbor's darkened livingroom to watch his television together. 

The unrelieved tragedy which ensues is like a slow-motion trainwreck that can't be avoided, and ultimately is almost as downbeat and disheartening in its own way as EDEN LAKE.

At roughly the halfway point, the film is almost marred by a sudden lapse into preachiness when a new character, Dr. Vito Simone (Renzo Cesana), begins to pontificate about the damage caused by Gil Stanton's rabble-rousing, sensational news articles. 

The story's main theme is thus stated: "Violence is a disease caused by moral and societal decay," and we should not be quick to judge. (Although Bridges' character is such an evil little rat bastard that I doubt he was shaped by such esoteric influences.)

In a way this reminded me of IN COLD BLOOD, another bleak black-and-white "true crime" drama that is fascinating in itself but expects the viewer to draw certain conclusions from the story that he or she may find arbitrary.

Such concerns, however, are largely overwhelmed by the searingly powerful final sequence in which the two accused men are trapped in their cells while a frenzied lynch mob of hundreds lay siege to the courthouse.   

It's here that TRY AND GET ME! most resembles a horror movie along the lines of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD--with its army of zombies finally forcing their way into the house where the living have barricaded themselves--but with the added impact of being based on a real-life event and populated by the very people we see every day.

The DVD from Olive Films is in 1.33:1 widescreen with Dolby 2.0 sound and subtitles in English.  No extras. 

At a time when message movies were coming into vogue, TRY AND GET ME!'s "nurture, not nature" theme may occasionally seem a bit heavy-handed.  But that matters little when compared to the film's overall impact.  It starts out as a genuine tear-jerking tragedy and ends up--almost before we even know what hit us--like a slow-motion punch to the gut. 

Buy it at


No comments: