Fury ★★★★½

Lang's first American film is a taut, pointed thriller about a man who gets falsely accused of a crime while on the way to see his fiancée -- and if that's all you know going in, just leave it at that; despite this being 80+ years old I managed to go in cold and it amplified the emotions of the experience that follows. But even if you do know where this chilling look at mob mentality and misguided vengeance is headed, you'll still marvel at the righteousness of its messages and the clarity of its targets; it feels more relevant and modern than almost any other Hollywood film of the 1930s I can name. Spencer Tracy and Sylvia Sidney are both phenomenal, and they define their characters so well that the chronicle of their long-distance relationship in the first scenes is sufficiently compelling to have been a film of its own, masterfully providing information and laying groundwork for the body of the picture and fully investing us in whatever is to come. My only complaint is that some of the "townsfolk" are unconvincingly two-dimensional, and the Mamoulian-derived gossiping-neighbors-as-chickens joke really doesn't belong, but Lang proves adept at using the infrastructure of a studio (MGM, incredibly; I still kind of can't believe it) to craft something as distinctive and personal as any of his spectacular works at Ufa.

Probably paints me as very much an amateurish movie scholar (which is what I am, so that's fine) that I had never seen any of Fritz Lang's U.S. output until now, but I have to say it's wonderful to be able to experience something like this as a "new" film, to thereby find oneself surprised and excited by it.