Son of Fury: The Story of Benjamin Blake (1942)

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Bold Swooping Tremendous Adventure!

Perhaps it should have been marketed as “Tepid Mediocre Uninspired Travelogue!” Son of Fury is a rather nondescript film. Nondescript doesn’t mean poor- it just doesn’t stand out; it never really reaches the viewers initial expectations. Coming after A Yank in the R.A.F. in the Tyrone Power catalog, Son of Fury tells the classic tale of a young man cheated out of his family name and fortune. Here the young man Benjamin Blake is played by Tyrone Power who has been disinherited in favor of his half brother Sir Arthur Blake, played by George Sanders.

sonoffury-00-14-24997His girlfriend in England – and incidentally the daughter of Arthur- helps him to make his escape. Played by Frances Farmer (in her last role before being institutionalized) she makes a return appearance on Ben’s return to England. Surprisingly this hint at incestuous behavior escaped the censors at the time of the film’s initial release. She is, after all, his half-cousin.

After a dispute with Sir Arthur, Ben must make his escape and he does so…to the South Seas to make his fortune. There he meets and presumably marries a native girl named “Eve” and portrayed by Gene Tierney. After making his fortune in pearls Ben returns to England.

Here he reclaims his name and title to the family estate and ousts his half brother. After giving his estate to the staff he returns to the islands and his Eve and the curtain falls.

Surprisingly this film is included in 20th Century Fox’s recent “Tyrone Power Swashbuckler Collection” even though it does not really fit into this category. An adventure movie yes- but a swashbuckler no. Barring a fist fight at the conclusion of the film there is extremely little action- mostly the film is a travelogue of Ben’s travels around the world.

sonoffury-00-22-41793The supporting cast is excellent but has little to do with the exception of George Sanders. Incidentally it was while rehearsing a swordfight for Solomon and Sheba that Power collapsed, suffered a heart attack, and died. He truly steals the film and even though he is the villain here it is great fun to root for him anyway. For Sanders Fury is sandwiched between films in his Falcon series.

sonoffury-00-03-23436Character actor Harry Davenport of Gone with the Wind fame (Dr. Meade) plays Ben’s benevolent grandfather who comes to his aid several times during the picture. You’ll also spot John Carradine and Roddy McDowall in light duty. McDowall plays a Ben as a child who somehow transforms into Tyrone Power as an adult.

Power’s performance is adequate with the material that is given him. However it would deepen his character if he emoted more strongly. He seems not to have the burning desire for revenge which one would expect in such a situation. Perhaps he has just graduated from a ten step course in anger management. His demeanor is so restrained and controlled as to be almost lifeless.

sonoffury-01-00-38001John Cromwell’s directing is adequate if uninspiring. Most shots are quite tightly framed making the job of the cinematographer rather unneeded. Even situations which would be ideal for strong shots – Ben’s arrival on the island (either time) or return to England – are allowed to be imagined by the audience. They all happen off screen for the most part.

It is unfortunate that due to wartime restrictions the film could not be done in Technicolor. The island scenes in the middle third of the film would definitely benefit.

All in all not a classic by any means, but a solid film of escapism and average entertainment. It does not make the TV rounds often but it is available as a single disc DVD and also as part of 20th Century Fox’s Tyrone Power Swashbucklers box set.

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