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Films of Sergio Leone => Other Films => Topic started by: cigar joe on August 20, 2006, 08:42:22 PM



Title: Bad Day At Black Rock (1955)
Post by: cigar joe on August 20, 2006, 08:42:22 PM
Not a bad modern western saw it today on TCM Dir. by John Sturgis, with Spencer Tracy, Robert Ryan, Ernest Borgnine, Lee Marvin, Walter Brennan, Anne Francis, and others.

Shot in the Mojave Desert with some surrealistic effects, reminded me of paintings by John Hopper, check it out if you haven't seen it.

Ernest Borgnine is at his trademark antics, enjoyed it.



Title: Re: Bad Day At Black Rock (1955)
Post by: Juan Miranda on August 20, 2006, 08:55:24 PM
Not bad!?! One of the best ever modern "westerns", with Lee Marvin on the cusp of his transitional acting style - going from lunk to method, and Spencer Tracy in my fave role for that guy. The way he demolishes both Marvin and Ernie Borgnine is great wish fulfillment cinema.

Incidently, I say Ernie at the National Film Theatre a couple of years ago, and he said the film was shot in a little desert town called Lone Pine, if anybody wants to go and shoot some photos?


Title: Re: Bad Day At Black Rock (1955)
Post by: cigar joe on August 20, 2006, 08:59:09 PM
Lone Pine is where most of the Boetticher Westerns were filmed, you are right its a great little film. 8)


Title: Re: Bad Day At Black Rock (1955)
Post by: Banjo on August 21, 2006, 02:07:49 AM
The way he demolishes both Marvin and Ernie Borgnine is great wish fulfillment cinema.
And with one arm i believe! :o


Title: Re: Bad Day At Black Rock (1955)
Post by: Tim on August 21, 2006, 11:09:55 AM
Quote
And with one arm i believe!

  You are correct, banjo.  I love how Tracy lets them push him around for most of the movie, and then flips out on Borgnine in the cafe.  The best part of his refusal to react is how angry Borgnine and Marvin get!  Great pair of thuggish villains.


Title: Re: Bad Day At Black Rock (1955)
Post by: boardwalk_angel on November 09, 2006, 07:32:03 AM
Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)

Directed by
John Sturges
                                                            (http://graphics8.nytimes.com//images/section/movies/amg/dvd/cov150/drt500/t563/t56359prbg8.jpg)
Cast

 Spencer Tracy
 Robert Ryan
 Anne Francis
 Walter Brennan
 John Ericson
 Ernest Borgnine
 Lee Marvin

Original Music by
André Previn   
 
Nominated for 3 Oscars

Trailer----->http://www.tcm.com/video/videoPlayer/?cid=13447&titleId=2090','Popup','650


Title: Re: Bad Day At Black Rock (1955)
Post by: Sanjuro on November 09, 2006, 09:15:54 AM
This is one of the best films of John Sturges. Superb screenplay. Very theatrical yet suspenseful.


Title: Re: Bad Day At Black Rock (1955)
Post by: Tim on November 09, 2006, 05:26:39 PM
  I saw this for the first time this summer on TCM.  The cast is great, I especially like Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin as some intimidating thugs, and Spencer Tracy and Robert Ryan are equally as good.

  This is the type of movie John Sturges did best, big ensemble casts made up of a real "man's man."


Title: Bad Day At Black Rock (1955)
Post by: cigar joe on January 10, 2008, 04:47:18 PM
Got the Warner Bros DVD of this about a week and a half ago.

Director is John Sturgis cast includes, Spencer Tracy ...  John J. Macreedy, Robert Ryan ...  Reno Smith,
Anne Francis ...  Liz Wirth,  Dean Jagger ...  Sheriff Tim Horn,  Walter Brennan ...  Doc T.R. Velie Jr., John Ericson ...  Pete Wirth ,  Ernest Borgnine ...  Coley Trimble,  Lee Marvin ...  Hector David.

Supposedly this was the first film ever shot in Cinemascope.

I figured out one thing in in the last couple of weeks, and it began with a simple question by member titoli about wether or not "No Country For Old Men" was a Western, the question again came up in another thread about wether or not "There Will be Blood" was a Western. During that time period I watched "Bad Day At Black Rock". I said in answer to titoli's question that yes I thought it was a modern day Western, I think dave jenkins said no, he just though it was a crime film. Then I believe I said maybe consider it a Western Noir, or it may have been in reverse order.

Anyway I mentioned that everytime I saw shots of wide open western vistas and desert landscapes a switch sort of flipped in my soul, and I mentioned that that was what happend when I watched "No Country For Old Men" and that the same switch flipped watching "Bad Day At Black Rock".

So what I figured out is that the UBER character we all know in all great Westerns was present in these films, and that's that grand great Western Landscape. That landscape and those vistas convey, after over 100 years,  more than just a backdrop, and when they are missing from Westerns (think "The Quick & The Dead) that Western doesn't quite ring true, and when they are present in modern films (road pictures, crime films, etc., etc.) that add a certain cachet to them,

Anyway Bad Day At Black Rock starts off with a Souther Pacific Superliner speeding across the desert against the spectacular backdrop of the high Sierras, we hear it horn blast and see it beginning to slow down as it approaches a fly speck of a town. The prospect of the superliner stopping in Bad Rock has the entire population out gawking at the trains arrival. The train stops and out of the orange & Tuscan varnish steps John Macreedy dressed in a black suit and hat with one arm tucked into his suit jacket pocket. We can tell he is one handed. He gets a valise from the conductor and steps to the platform. The telegraph man says "the Superliner hasn't stopped here in four years"  and he asks him why he wasn't told the Superliner would stop, Macreedy tells him maybe he's not important enough.

Its reminiscent in a way of the way "For A Few Dollars More" starts "this train doesn't stop at Tucumcari".

Besides the desert vistas and the high Sierra's backdrops the cinematography of the town and its buildings interiors are lit like the paintings of Edward Hopper, very cool. Robert Ryan, Ernest Borgnine (in a villain role equal to his turn as Shack in "Emperor of the North") and Lee Marvin are the chief baddies most of the rest of the town are their toadies. Walter Brennan and Dean Jagger are sympathetic to Macreedy who had simply stopped to deliver a medal to the Japanese father of the man who died saving his life.

Its instantly become one of my favorite Sturgis films, check it out.  O0


Title: Re: Bad Day At Black Rock (1955)
Post by: titoli on January 10, 2008, 10:53:18 PM
I saw this on TV in the early '80's. Sometimes it is aired again over here. I consider this a very entertaining thriller. But not a western. We should start a discussion on it and end nowhere. Though it has some western features, to me this doesn't count a western.


Title: Re: Bad Day At Black Rock (1955)
Post by: cigar joe on January 11, 2008, 04:41:10 AM
No it isn't a Western, but it stars one of the best known character of all great Westerns  O0


Title: Re: Bad Day At Black Rock (1955)
Post by: Ben Tyreen on January 11, 2008, 11:23:05 AM
  I've always thought John Sturges never got his due for the amount of quality movies he directed, this one being one of his best.  Caught this last summer on TCM and really liked it.  The whole cast is good, as is typical with Sturges movies, and Borgnine and Marvin are excellent as the thugs.  Highly recommended.

  And I do consider this a western.  :)


Title: Re: Bad Day At Black Rock (1955)
Post by: cigar joe on January 11, 2008, 08:54:12 PM
Well we did have a thread of this found it, sorry:

http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=3958.0


Title: Re: Bad Day At Black Rock (1955)
Post by: T.H. on September 26, 2008, 07:09:20 PM
Sturges is a peculiar director. I consider BDABR to be one of the finer directing efforts and movies of classic Hollywood era, yet this is the same man who directed Chino/Valdez Horses which is remarkably awful. He had a special gift for creating atmosphere and BDABR is the perfect showcase. This movie floored me upon my first view, yet it improves with each subsequent view. It's essential just for its sound alone.

I haven't seen his entire filmography or anything but I fear this is his lone masterpiece .


Title: Re: Bad Day At Black Rock (1955)
Post by: Dust Devil on June 14, 2009, 11:02:51 AM
I agree with @titoli on this: not a W but a very entertaining thriller. I don't know, it didn't quite strike me as a grandiose directorial achievement, but it did keep me glued to my seat till the end. The biggest problem I have is when Macreedy beats Coley Trimble (with one hand), that sort of ruins the whole ''cat around the milk'' act he was pulling for a whole hour of the movie. I'd prefer if he tried to pull some kind of power play baffling the small desert town thugs he was a government agent on a mission or something. Now that would have made them sweat.


7.4/10


Title: Re: Bad Day At Black Rock (1955)
Post by: Dust Devil on July 23, 2009, 11:07:22 PM
Bad Day at Black Rock - 7-8/10 - Fairly mixed feelings about this one. Well-directed and a great cast, with some really great moments (I love Tracy kicking the crap out of Borgnine in the bar), but I have a lot of problems too. The whole story seemed rather contrived to me; anyone else feel that if Tracy had just explained his business in town things might have gone more smoothly? Are there only the ten people we see in the entire town? (Perhaps this is the sort of town that only exists in the movies.) I can sort of buy the town is guilty and wants to cover up the murder explanation but the movie doesn't execute it very well; it seems like an Idiot Plot to me. I liked it well-enough, and it's probably my favorite Sturges film to date, but not a masterpiece to me.

Do you have the same feelings for FaFDM and West? To answer the question, he probably would have been killed or attempted to be killed if he confronted the townsfolk. Tracy's character recognizes that there is something wrong with the town (which the lack of townsfolk only enhances) and he is treated terribly; it's perfectly natural for him to investigate the matter. How would this improve the movie, anyway? Are you going to criticize any film that features a lead whose motives aren't revealed until the third act?

There is nothing "dumb" about the plot, and the fact that there are only a dozen citizens is a nice departure from similar films which give  superfluous characters unnecessary screen time. BDaBR's tense atmosphere negates any potential plot problems, which,  I've never encountered any. I don't care if you don't like the movie, but I found your criticisms to be lacking.

I'm not saying the movie itself would be better. I'm merely complaining of it as a contrivance. Inasmuch as the townspeople want him dead pretty much right off the bat, it would be a moot point. What I meant was why didn't he say "I'm looking for so-and-so, to give him a medal his son had won in the war?" Nobody in the town is smart enough to show him the house, tell him what "happened" and let him be on his way? Granted they couldn't have guessed he was a tough-guy jujitsu master but on the other hand having another corpse turn up in their town isn't exactly a way to . I guess there wouldn't be a movie then.

Idiot Plot is an Ebert-coined term where the whole plot hinges on characters not saying the right thing. There wouldn't be a movie if Robert Ryan showed him the Komoko ranch, told him about his being sent to the camp, and sent him on his way. Instead they have to act like guilty assholes and immediately arouse his suspicions. That's pretty much the definition of the Idiot Plot.

I did like the movie, hence the rating. I guess I'm not allowed to level any criticism at a movie I like.

I'm not saying the movie itself would be better. I'm merely complaining of it as a contrivance. Inasmuch as the townspeople want him dead pretty much right off the bat, it would be a moot point. What I meant was why didn't he say "I'm looking for so-and-so, to give him a medal his son had won in the war?" Nobody in the town is smart enough to show him the house, tell him what "happened" and let him be on his way? Granted they couldn't have guessed he was a tough-guy jujitsu master but on the other hand having another corpse turn up in their town isn't exactly a way to . I guess there wouldn't be a movie then.

They want him out of the town, first and foremost. One of this film's many themes is guilt. To be blunt, it simply isn't that easy. If I were ever part of  a murder cover-up, I highly doubt that I would ever be collected enough to handle a mysterious man entering a desolate town. Their paranoia is a major catalyst for the plot to unfold.

Idiot Plot is an Ebert-coined term where the whole plot hinges on characters not saying the right thing. There wouldn't be a movie if Robert Ryan showed him the Komoko ranch, told him about his being sent to the camp, and sent him on his way. Instead they have to act like guilty assholes and immediately arouse his suspicions. That's pretty much the definition of the Idiot Plot.

This logic can be used for possibly thousands of movies.

Another thing to consider, if they lied to Tracy and sent him on his way, he'd dig deeper and eventually come back, and how can you criticize characters living in guilt and fear to not react to situations by striking fear into someone - seems natural to me.


I did like the movie, hence the rating. I guess I'm not allowed to level any criticism at a movie I like.

All I said that I found your criticisms to be lacking or unwarranted. I didn't mean to offend you or anything.


Nah, I'm not remotely offended.

I don't mind the plot to extent that it ruins the film, it just seems to me rather a contrived storyline. Great movies have been made on far slenderer bits of story though.

If I want to nit pick it, the final confrontation where Tracy throws the Molotov Cocktail doesn't seem right.  Gasoline doesn't burn that slow, there has got to be a secret to the real Molotov Cocktail, there is no way that a rag soaked in gas is not going go whoosh and immediately ignite the contents of the bottle, and there has to be a way to keep the flame lit while throwing the bottle.  In the film it looks like the flame and burn rate you get with diesel oil.  

BDaBR is a personal favorite but I agree that the final confronation, as a whole, could have been better executed. I find it entertaining but the movie deserved a better ending.


Title: Re: Bad Day At Black Rock (1955)
Post by: Dust Devil on July 23, 2009, 11:08:03 PM
Urban Dictionary info:
   
A Molotov cocktail (or petrol bomb) is a crude incendiary weapon which consists of a glass bottle semi-filled with flammable liquid, usually gasoline (petrol) or alcohol (generally methanol or ethanol), the mouth of the bottle is stoppered with a cork or other type of airtight bung (rubber, glass, or plastic), and a cloth rag fixed securely around the mouth. The weapon is used by first soaking the rag in a flammable liquid immediately prior to using it, lighting the rag and throwing the bottle at the target. The bottle shatters on impact, spilling the flammable liquid over the target which is then ignited by the burning rag.

Sometimes, if available, self-inflammatory materials (such as white phosphorus), could also be used to guarantee the bottle's explosion as it hits the target surface. Tar, palm oil or other thickening agents are often added to the composition in order to make the burning fluid stick to the target rather than run off. Finnish soldiers often used hand soap suds as their form of palm oil in their Molotov Cocktails. Modern variations of the Molotov cocktail also contain laundry detergent, liquid dish soap, or crushed up styrofoam cups. The Molotov cocktail is closely related to the same principle of Napalm bombs. Napalm is a contraction of the words naphtha (the flammable part of petrol) and palm oil. Sometimes acid is added to the mix to increase the damaging potential of the liquid, and to increase the chances for it to penetrate fire-resistant surfaces. Molotov cocktails are easy to make and are the standard weaponry of guerrilla warfare and violent rioters.

Despite the crudeness it is tricky for an amateur to make an effective Molotov cocktail. The main failure is in over-filling the bottle. A full bottle will not ignite quickly when it breaks on impact (but has a longer burning potential). For a device to explode rapidly on impact the bottle is only one half to two-thirds full of mixture. One difficulty of mention is not paying attention to carefully wiping the bottle down to remove all traces of the internal flammable liquid from the external parts of the bottle prior to lighting the rag. Another is to mistakenly use the ignition rag to stopper the bottle. Other difficulties come with the proper fixing of the stopper in the mouth of the bottle (it must be airtight to prevent fumes from escaping), the proper fixing of the rag (use metal wire to securely fasten it. Also, a short rag is better), the possibility of mishandling after the rag is ignited, and the use of inappropriate bottles, such as short-necked, wide-mouthed, too fragile or too tough.

The name "Molotov cocktail" is derived from Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov, a Russian communist who was the Foreign Minister and Secretary of War of the Soviet Union during World War II. The soldiers of the Finnish Army successfully used Molotov cocktails against Red Army tanks in the two conflicts (Winter War and Continuation War) between Finland and the Soviet Union, and coined the term to mock Molotov (Soviet planes do not drop bombs but food to help starving Finnish people, he claimed in radio broadcasts).

Molotov cocktails were even mass-produced by the Finnish military, bundled with matches to light them. They had already been used in the Spanish Civil War, sometimes propelled by a sling.

These weapons saw widespread use by all sides in World War II. They were very effective against light tanks, and very bad for enemy morale. The following is a first-hand description of their effects, written during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943:

"The well-aimed bottles hit the tank. The flames spread quickly. The blast of the explosion is heard. The machine stands motionless. The crew is burned alive. The other two tanks turn around and withdraw. The Germans who took cover behind them withdraw in panic. We take leave of them with a few well-aimed shots and grenades. "
- Eyewitness Reporting for the ¯ydowska Organizacja Bojowa (Jewish Fighting Organization), 19 April 1943
During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, members of the Israeli Kibbutz Dgania managed to stop a Syrian tank assault by using Molotov cocktails.


Title: Re: Bad Day At Black Rock (1955)
Post by: Groggy on July 24, 2009, 07:15:38 AM
I liked the ending of the movie, but I liked the similar scene in Dead Reckoning with Humphrey Bogart better.


Title: Re: Bad Day At Black Rock (1955)
Post by: T.H. on July 25, 2009, 01:10:09 PM
Thanks, DD.  O0


Title: Re: Bad Day At Black Rock (1955)
Post by: Jill on August 04, 2009, 05:23:57 AM
Want to see it (and will), but so many movies waiting on my computer.

Still, my favourite tough guys together, and Robert Ryan can be more evil than Satan, so it must be great. And Ernest? Love it already for the actors.


Title: Re: Bad Day At Black Rock (1955)
Post by: Spikeopath on February 09, 2017, 09:38:30 PM
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047849/reference

Hateful subject given a master class telling.

Produced by Dore Schary out of MGM, Bad Day at Black Rock is directed by John Sturges and stars Spencer Tracy, Robert Ryan, Anne Francis, Dean Jagger, Walter Brennan, John Ericson, Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin.It's adapted by Don McGuire and Millard Kaufman from the story Bad Day at Hondo by Howard Breslin. It's shot on location in CinemaScope and Eastman Color at Lone Pine, Death Valley & Alabama Hills in California, with William C. Mellor on photography and André Previn scoring the music.

A classy production that combines elements of Westerns and film noir, Bad Day at Black Rock deals with racism and all the hate and bully tactics that come with such a vile subject. It tells the story of a mysterious one armed stranger, John J. Macreedy (Tracy), who arrives at a tiny isolated town in a desert of the Southwest United States in search of a Japanese-American man. From the moment he arrives he is met with hostility and mistrust. Over the course of the day Macreedy picks apart the town to uncover the secret the townsfolk had hoped had gone away.

From the opening sequence of a bright red train rushing towards us, it's evident that we are in the modern day West. It's just after World War II and the horse trails of the old West are now frequented by jeeps and cars. Yet the hallmarks of the old West exists and thrives because of the inhabitants of Black Rock. An ignorant group of people consisting of bullies, drunks and the head in the sand softy type. Yet even tho the film is set mostly in the blazing sun, in a barren one horse Western town that time forgot, the film exudes a film noir sensibility. Dark secrets from the past weigh heavy on the shoulders of the towns big players: And Tracy's High Noon like situation is moodily paced by the wily Sturges. In fact that a film with so little "gun play" action can be so tense is no mean feat, with him yet again directing an ensemble cast to great effect.

Tracy is at his best when he is as he is here, playing subdued. Here he is a thinking man's protagonist, calm and reflective in the face of constant hostility. That he is facing an impressive line up of heavies really brings home just how thoughtful a performance Tracy gives in the piece. Robert Ryan does yet another fine turn as a complicated villain whose rage is bubbling away under the surface. While Borgnine and Marvin are memorably vile as his right hand thugs. Dean Jagger as the drunken cowardly sheriff manages to pang the heart and Walter Brennan is his usual solid impacting self. Anne Francis adds the glamour but really it's a nondescript role that the film could easily have survived without.

Clocking in at just 81 minutes the film never outstays its welcome. It looks great on DVD, and for those interested in commentary tracks, this one comes with a very good one from Dana Polan. Anyone who has not seen this film should try and seek it out. It was considered controversial back on release but now can be viewed as a smart message movie about racial tolerance. Tight, taut and expertly directed and acted, Bad Day At Black Rock is an important film from the 50s that still rings bells even today. 8/10


Title: Re: Bad Day At Black Rock (1955)
Post by: cigar joe on February 11, 2017, 03:10:59 AM
This film is Film Noir meets the Modern Western - Film Soleil

Film Soleil, those sun baked, filled with light, desert/tropical Noir/Neo Noirs.

"Change the darkened street to a dry, sun-beaten road. Convert the dark alley to a highway mercilessly cutting through a parched, sagebrush-filled desert. Give the woman cowboy boots and stick her in a speeding car, driven by a deranged man whose own biological drives lead him less often to sex than to fights over money. Institute these changes [to film noir] and you have film soleil." - DK Holm

In the city it's usually what you can't see that can kill you. In the desert everything you see can kill you.

I reviewed this (with screencaps) in the Off Topic - Film Noir/ Neo Noir section ;)


Title: Re: Bad Day At Black Rock (1955)
Post by: Moorman on March 12, 2017, 09:10:10 PM
Excellent film... A great modern western. I rank this a 8 out of 10...