'BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK'
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Tickets: Mon-Thur evenings & all matinees £9.10, Conc £8.10, Members £7.50
Fri-Sun evenings £9.10, Members £7.50
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FILM RECEIVED 4 WINS AND 8 NOMINATIONS
Sturges, US, 1955, 80 minutes
Cast: Spencer Tracy, Robert Ryan, Anne Francis
A one-armed stranger comes to a dusty little Arizona town possessing a terrible past
the inhabitants want to keep secret. Bringing simmering, atmospheric suspense
scaldingly to the boil, Sturges perfectly captures the edgy insecurities at the heart of all racism.
Excellent performances and imaginative use of the 'Scope frame TIMEOUT
The last thing you would expect to think of while watching a Western would be an Eighteenth century Irish statesman. And yet, for the entirety of Bad Day at Black Rock by John Sturges, one thought dominated my mind. It was a quote by the great Edmund Burke that went, The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. How relevant was that quote, how relevant was that piercing statement on morality while watching this phenomenal film. For the main theme of Bad Day at Black Rock is a common one in Westerns: one man must stand alone against insurmountable evil. We have seen it dozens of times in countless varieties in films as varied as High Noon (1952), Rio Bravo (1959), and The Magnificent Seven (1960). Yet the evil in Bad Day at Black Rock is not the average fare for Westerns. Instead of evil being represented by bad men with guns, it is chiefly represented by good men who refuse stand up for what is right. Complacency, resignation, and denial are the true villains in this film.
Bad Day at Black Rock
starts like so many other Westerns: a lone law man comes riding into
a desolate, near deserted town. But something is different here. Instead
of riding in on a horse, the law man rides a Southern Pacific passenger
train. Instead of a dashing and handsome champion, we get a one-armed,
handicapped veteran named John J. Macreedy. Instead of a ruthless masculine
bravado, he operates using a calm, almost absent-minded listlessness.
And finally, instead of a rough-and-tough personification of the Wild
West like John Wayne, Montgomery Clift, or James Coburn, we get soft-spoken
Spencer Tracy. Yes, the man whose claim to fame was playing Catholic
priests and Portuguese fishermen is the hero of this picture. But dont
be fooled. In Bad Day at Black Rock, Tracy creates one of the greatest
heroes that the West has ever seen.
Courtesy of Forgotten Classics of Yesteryear and Wikipedia