Bad Day at Black Rock, based on a story by Howard Breslin
A different version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:
- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEVa4_CsRStSBBDo4uJWT8BSWtTTn0N1E and http://realini.blogspot.ro/
This is one of the best suspense stories that I know.
The cast of the film is exceptional:
- Spencer Tracy, Robert Ryan, Ernest Borgnine, Lee Marvin
At the beginning of the movie, the train stops in Black Rock.
And this is already the first unusual event.
This train has not stopped in the station in four years.
A stranger descends and we are witnessing an astonishing occasion.
Black Rock is not the place to stop or visit and this man will soon find how welcome he is.
Spencer Tracy is perfect in the role of John Macreedy.
He is a war veteran that has lost an arm.
And to anticipate, some of the villains of this forgotten place stoop so low as to mock his disability.
When he tries to find a place to stay and indeed anything else, he finds he is not welcome.
Furthermore, when John Macreedy reveals that he wants to get to the place where a Japanese man lives, it is apparent that this is anathema for the locals.
Reno Smith is the self appointed viceroy of the town.
In fact, this is more like the Godfather, who controls by force the community, too scared to oppose him.
Until Spencer Tracy comes to town that is.
He does manage to rent a jeep and takes it to the place where the man he wanted to see used to live.
Looking around, he finds wild flowers.
John Macreedy says at one point that wild flowers grow on top of graves and there is a grave where his savior had his lease.
The missing Japanese man had saved Macreedy's life during the war.
He was awarded a medal for this and this is the reason why the survivor wanted to see him:
To give him his medal
Reno Smith has a very dark secret to hide.
He bullies the men around him, who know what happened to the missing neighbor.
And that is what will happen to any of them if they cross the line.
Reno Smith launches a tirade against the "Japs".
When John Macreedy tries to eat in a fast food place, he is challenged, provoked, insulted and all the ketchup is poured into his dish.
With phenomenal speed, strength and acumen, the man with one hand is beating his aggressor to a definite and permanent Knock Out!
This is one of the fighting scenes that I have enjoyed most!
It will be stuck in my memory for good.
John Macreedy is much more of a Superman than the usual cartoon inspired heroes.
- He showed incredible restraint, calm, self control, bravery and insight.
- Knowing well that he can put a man to the ground and face his repeated attacks, he acted with humility and a zen-like attitude.
Without saying what happens, to avoid any spoilers, I will just express my admiration at this exhilarating super hero.
He does not fly like Iron Man and the others, but his will, determination, grit, stamina, resilience are otherworldly.