Edge of Fury is a 1958 American drama film directed by Robert J. Gurney Jr. and Irving Lerner and written by Robert J. Gurney Jr.. The film stars Michael Higgins, Lois Holmes, Jean Allison, Doris Fesette and Malcolm Lee Beggs. The film was released on May 1, 1958, by United Artists.
The film was summarized in TV Guide as “sick low-budget grossness about a psychopathic young beachcomber, Higgins, who pretends to befriend a mother and two daughters living at their summer home. He talks the family into letting him rent the adjacent guest cottage, then he slaughters the whole family.”
The film begins with a voice over by a psychiatrist discussing a young war veteran and struggling artist, Richard Barrie. The opening scene shows Richard painting on the beach as police officers approach to arrest him. The doctor’s narration tells us that Richard is a patient of his who had “asked to be confined” but that “society acts only after a crime has been committed”.
In flashback, a beachcombing Richard comes across a beach cottage for rent. He reserves it on behalf of three women he refers to as “family”, Florence Hackett and her two daughters, Eleanor and Louisa. The four met in a grocery store and Florence was struck by his manners and clean-cut charm. Eleanor has something of a crush on him, while Richard is drawn to the stand-offish, sexy Louisa, who has a steady boyfriend.
The woman in whose bookstore Richard works, knows that he is a disturbed individual who isolates himself; she feels he is too focused on the Hacketts and encourages him to take his doctor’s advice to “get out and meet people, make new friends”.
At the cottage, Richard sets himself up to stay each weekend in a shed on the property, after Louisa complains about him using the guest room she wants kept free for her boyfriend when he comes for visits. For the first few weekends, in spite of the women – in Richard’s view – being messy, things are pleasant; he feels he is shaping a home for the four of them. He becomes jealous and agitated, though, when Louisa and her boyfriend openly express their attraction for each other. She also often taunts Richard and makes him feel like he is a “nobody”.
During a walk on the beach, Eleanor kisses Richard and he reacts violently. He attempts an explanation, saying that he thinks of her as platonic family. Louisa invites an acquaintance out as a date for Eleanor, suggesting that Richard may see that he is letting someone good slip by him. Richard throws a dinner party in his shed, which is not a complete success. Later, he sees Eleanor and her date embrace and kiss on the beach. He damages items and messes up the rooms in the cottage. Eleanor tells him she understands he acted out of jealousy, but that she does not care for the man. She makes a gentle, amorous move toward Richard and he physically abuses her.
Louisa confronts him about “taking advantage” of her sister and he calls Louisa a “tramp”; he tells all of them that he knows they have been setting him up all along. Florence demands that Richard apologize or leave. His paranoia and psychosis out of control, he leaves the shed but not the cottage. He mutilates the portrait he painted of Florence and leaves it for she and Eleanor to find. Frightened, Florence phones Louisa, who has had to return to the city; she tells her mother to get a neighbor boy to stay overnight with them. Though she was planning to go back to the cottage likely the next day, Louisa’s worry gets the better of her. She and her boyfriend drive back to the cottage right away.
When the neighbor boy arrives, Richard stabs and kills him, then murders Florence. Louisa and her boyfriend arrive just as Eleanor runs from the cottage. As Louisa goes to comfort her sister, the boyfriend enters the house to find that Richard has fled, leaving behind Florence’s dead body. The final scene returns to the beginning where Richard is peacefully painting on the beach as the police arrive to take him away.