Spencer Tracy was likely a great actor. There’s plenty of evidence out there that says this was so. Many awards… and Katharine Hepburn said so. Even though I still give her credence in spite of their romantic involvement, this is something I want to see with my own eyes. I first came across Tracy in the excellent Libeled Lady with William Powell, Myrna Loy and Jean Harlow and was surprised to learn that Tracy wasn’t just some guy that time forgot. The second film I saw him in was Woman of the Year, a comedy with Katharine Hepburn that mostly forgot to be funny. It was as if it was building up to something… but fizzled out. It was certainly watchable and entertaining but… much as I tried to like it, the shrugging legions of indifference had overcome me by the end. Tracy was only workmanlike in that film as well, so the quest to see him act continues…

Justice. It’s something that can get us all animated, particularly where it hasn’t been done. Reacting with a hot head in the blind pursuit of justice can often lead to further injustice, with important things like the the right to a fair trial forgotten. People are accused of wrongdoing every day, even the innocent. Trial by media has become a more terrible thing in recent years seeing as it’s no longer a spectator sport – everyone can join in. All they need to do is bring their anger and indignation and check their reason at the door. En masse, this kind of thing can lead to witch hunts and McCarthyism.

Fury is about justice. It’s from director Fritz Lang (of Metropolis and M fame). It’s well-made and features good performances from Sylvia Sidney, Spencer Tracy and Walter Abel (the district attorney). Sidney’s melodramatic turn shades Tracey’s this time around, especially since she seems to get more screen time. These things make it a good film – one that holds your attention and entertains. There is something a little too contrived and facile about it, though. Perhaps if it was a comedy it might get away with this but it never could be. Back on the plus side, it’s never pompous and always likeable. I have a feeling this will be the case with many Tracy films. This one may be crudely set up and lacking in depth, but it’s a set-up that delivers enough acting and production value to make its ninety-two minutes worthwhile. Its message is something that everyone should have drilled into them in some form: think before you act and do not draw conclusions without any evidence. Everybody thinks they’re the good guy but even a little introspection and self-criticism may reveal otherwise. Beware the Justice Squad, no matter who they are: we’re all very right and very wrong in so many ways every day of our lives. Always think: which is it this time?

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