Film - Feature | June 30 | 7 p.m. | Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
Langs first Hollywood film after fleeing Germany is a vivid social melodrama with many visual elements of Expressionism-turned-noir. Spencer Tracy, a stranger in a small town, is bizarrely charged with kidnappingimplicated by a bag of salted peanutsand becomes the object of a mob who burn down the jailhouse and, they think, him with it. From his position as a dead man he follows the trial of twenty of the towns citizens for his murder, and as he does so, wronged innocence becomes embittered righteousnessin a word, fury. The opening scenes of Tracy and fiancée Sylvia Sidney are etched in ominous fog, and it never gets any better for them. Like Lang, they become aliens in their own country. The damning dialogue picks up in America where Lang left off in Germany: In this country, it is bruited, people dont land in jail unless theyre guilty. Cinema itself is Langs closing statement: newsreel footage convicts the murderous mob.