Friday, 16 November 2012

Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)

Bad Day at Black Rock,1955,USA
Director: John Sturges
Stars: Spencer Tracy, Robert Ryan & Lee Marvin

''You killed Komoko, Smith, and sooner or later, you're gonna go up for it. Not because you killed him, but because of thinking in a town like this you could get away with it.''

Paul Thomas Anderson has said many times that ''You can learn more about film, listening to the commentary track on 'Bad Day at Black Rock' then you can in 20 years of film school.'' Being an avid admirer of Anderson and extremely trustworthy of his opinion on films, I instantly set out to watch this film.

A stranger (Spencer Tracy) arrives via train in Black Rock, a small town made up of prejudice and racist occupants,The strangers name is John J Macreedy, a war veteran whom investigates the mysterious disappearance of Japanese resident, while trying to get to get to the bottom of it, Macreedy must deal with the hostile townsfolk who are hell bent on keeping their secret. 

From the opening helicopter shot of a train arriving at a beautiful little town, I was hooked and knew this was was going to be great, For the next 80 minutes, I was thrilled, saddened, enlightened, haunted, horrified, inspired and blown away. 'Bad Day at Black Rock' is an exceptional exercise in classic cinema, Director John Sturges beautifully builds tension as the film progresses and he doesn't resort to violence or action in order to do so, he works brilliantly from Millard Kaufman's screenplay which is adapted by Don McGuire from Howard Breslin's story. The film is always compelling, the scenes which feature two characters conversing are brilliant and its short length works in its favor, Its just enough to time to explore the characters and environment without becoming tedious, but you still yearn for more.

Tales of overcoming prejudices are always inspiring no matter what, and its done to near perfection in this film, Racism is a terrible and inhumane part of life, and that's how its depicted in this film. Macreedy is a character whom is truly good at heart but hes best quality is that he views everyone as equals, hes seen the horrors of the war in Italy and due to his life being saved by a foreigner, racism does not apply to him, Characters like Macreedy are easy to support.

The film features a phenomenal cast lead by the legendary Spencer Tracy, who is brilliant as Macreedy. The film also co stars the likes of Robert Ryan, Lee Marvin, Walter Brennan & Ernest Borgnine who all do a great job.

As PTA implied, 'Bad Day at Black Rock' is basically filmmaking 101, Sturges directs this film so seamlessly it all makes it look so easy. I am finding it very difficult to place this film into one specific genre, because it features so many different elements for various genres, crime,drama,mystery,thriller and even a Western, and the beauty is the film never feels convoluted. 'Bad Day at Black Rock' is a classic, and I really recommend checking it out.


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