Son of Fury: The Story of Benjamin Blake
Son of Fury: The Story of Benjamin Blake is a 1942 American south seas adventure film directed by John Cromwell and starring Tyrone Power. The film was adapted from Edison Marshall's 1941 historical novel Benjamin Blake. It is notable as the last film Frances Farmer appeared in before her legal problems and eventual commitment to psychiatric hospitals until 1950.
|Son of Fury: The Story of Benjamin Blake|
|Directed by||John Cromwell|
|Produced by||Darryl F. Zanuck|
|Screenplay by||Philip Dunne|
|Based on||novel by Edison Marshall|
|Music by||Alfred Newman|
|Cinematography||Arthur C. Miller|
|Edited by||Walter Thompson|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$1.6 million (US rentals)|
The story is set during the reign of King George III, in Bristol, England, where young Benjamin Blake (Roddy McDowall), son of the deceased Baronet of Breetholm is taken from his commoner grandfather, gunsmith Amos Kidder (Harry Davenport), and forced to serve his vengeful uncle, Sir Arthur Blake (George Sanders). Arthur inherited the title and land from his brother Godfrey, and fears that Ben may not have been born out of wedlock and might claim his inheritance. He compels the boy to become his ward and bonded servant, giving Arthur life-and-death power over the lad. Ben runs away to his grandfather, but rather than force the old man to live a life on the run, returns to Breetholm, vowing to endure whatever he must in order to one day prove himself a "true Blake" and recover his birthright.
Ben, now a young man (Tyrone Power), has fallen in love with Isabel (Frances Farmer), his cousin and Arthur's haughty and scheming daughter. Arthur discovers the relationship and thrashes Benjamin with his fists, knowing that he dare not resist. Ben confronts Arthur that night, but is threatened with jail for breaking into his room to assault him, a hanging offense. Ben flees arrest but his grandfather is imprisoned for helping Ben escape. Ben stows away on a ship bound for the South Seas, where he can make his fortune, prove his claim, and release his grandfather from prison. Ben is forced to join the ship's crew, but joins shipmate Caleb Green (John Carradine) in jumping ship at a Polynesian island. There he wins the trust of the native islanders, finds fortune (pearls), and takes a new love, a native girl he calls "Eve" (Gene Tierney). When a Dutch ship happens by, allowing them to fulfill their ambitions, Caleb discovers that the idyllic life in the islands is worth more than the pearls they have amassed, but Ben remains true to his vow and his imprisoned grandfather.
With their combined treasure, he returns to England under an assumed name to prove his birthright with the help of noted "man of influence," Bartholomew Pratt (Dudley Digges). Ben is betrayed after he goes to Breetholm to see Isabel, and is convicted by jury for the earlier offenses. Just as his death sentence is about to be pronounced, he is saved by Pratt, who proves that no crime was committed by showing that Ben's father and mother were married aboard a ship to India, and that "Sir Benjamin Blake" was in law the rightful baronet at the time. Ben discovers that it was Isabel who betrayed him and also repays the beating he received from Arthur. He emancipates the bonded tenants of Breetholm and divides the estate among them, deeding the manor house to his grandfather. Ben then returns to the Polynesian island to live out his life with Eve.
- Tyrone Power as Benjamin Blake
- Gene Tierney as Eve
- George Sanders as Sir Arthur Blake
- Frances Farmer as Isabel
- Roddy McDowall as Benjamin as a Boy
- John Carradine qs Caleb Green
- Elsa Lanchester as Bristol Isabel
- Harry Davenport as Amos Kidder
- Kay Johnson as Helena Blake
- Dudley Digges as Pratt
- Halliwell Hobbes as Purdy
- Martin Lamont as Kenneth Hobart
- Arthur Hohl as Capt. Greenough
- Pedro de Cordoba as Freenou
- Heather Thatcher as Maggie Martin
- Lester Matthews as Prosecutor
- Charles Irwin as Captain
- Dennis Hoey as Lord Tarrant
- Robert Greig as Judge
- Mala as Marnoa (as Ray Mala)
- Cliff Severn as Paddy
The film was based on the novel Benjamin Blake which was published in March 1941. Film rights were purchased by 20th Century Fox prior to the novel's publication, in January 1941. They paid a reported $50,000. William Pearlberg was assigned to produce.
In March 1941 Fox announced Tyrone Power would star. The same month the novel came out and became a best seller. In July, Ida Lupino was announced as co star and the film was officially listed as being on the Fox schedule for the next year.
Gene Tierney's character was meant to die in the original script but Daryl F. Zanuck decided to change the ending to be happier.
Filming finished by November 1941.
The film was released on DVD by Fox on May 1, 2007 in The Tyrone Power Collection
- "101 Pix Gross in Millions" Variety 6 Jan 1943 p 58
- 18th Century England: BENJAMIN BLAKE. By Edison Marshall. 443 pp. New York: Farrar & Rinehart, Inc. $2.50. DRAKE DE KAY. New York Times 16 Mar 1941: BR21.
- 'Rebecca'Voted Best by 391 Movie Critics Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 14 Jan 1941: 13.
- Rights to 'Benjamin Blake' Purchased by Fox -- 'Philadelphia Story' to Be Held for Fourth Week By DOUGLAS W. CHURCHILL New York Times 14 Jan 1941: 17.
- Patricia Morison Is Suspended for Her Refusal to Enact Role in 'Singin' Hills' New York Times 10 Mar 1941: 21.
- Best Sellers of the Week Here and Elsewhere New York Times 24 Mar 1941: 15.
- Bert Lahr to Be Featured in 'I'm Dying to Live' -- 'Time Out for Rhythm' Opens at Rialto By DOUGLAS W. CHURCHILLBy Telephone to THE NEW YORK TIMES. New York Times 9 July 1941: 24.
- 52 FEATURE FILMS SCHEDULED BY FOX: 1941-42 Program Also Lists 52 One-Reelers and 104 Issues of Movietone News R.A.F. ROLE FOR POWER Actual Battle Scenes Will Be Shown -- English Studio to Produce Eight Pictures New York Times 18 July 1941: 17.
- SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: MGM May Lend Wallace Beery to Universal for the Lead in 'Butch Minds the Baby' New York Times 29 July 1941: 18.
- A COWBOY'S FEUD WITH HOLLYWOOD: Will James Doesn't Like Western Hokum -- Fox's Happy Ending Decree By DOUGLAS W. CHURCHILL. New York Times 19 Oct 1941: X5.
- Of Local Origin New York Times 16 Aug 1941: 18.
- Jessie Matthews Due to Act in Hollywood: Zanuck Boosts Youth 'Yank' in Three Houses 'Alexandra' in Offing Wood Plans English Deal Muir Stage Producer Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 1 Sep 1941: 6.
- Joel McCrea to Co-Star With Claudette Colbert -- Two New Pictures Arriving on Broadway BY DOUGLAS W. CHURCHILL New York Times 3 Sep 1941: 27.
- SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: George Montgomery and Alice Faye Will Play the Leads in Dreiser's 'My Gal Sal' TWO PICTURES DUE TODAY ' When Ladies Meet' to Open at Capitol -- 'Father Takes a Wife' on Bill at Palace By DOUGLAS W. CHURCHILLBy Telephone to THE NEW YORK TIMES. 4 Sep 1941: 25.
- War Stories Proceed Despite Eastern Quiz: 'Channel Float' Novelty Peace Crusade Also On Jean Parker Signs Up Cobina 'Strep' Victim 'Martin Eden' for Ford Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 22 Sep 1941: 11.
- Studios Seek Formula to Aid Youths' Appeal: 'Angel Face' Purchased Two Cast for 'Daddies' Happy Ending' Planned Paramount After Cregar Mary Brian Deal Set Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 3 Oct 1941: 16.
- 'Consent Decree' Films Evidence Improvement: Hope Manning Signed Frances Farmer Lead Set Taylor May Do 'Cargo' Twins Sought for Serial 'Storm' Interests Brown Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 15 Nov 1941: A9.