Years after her aunt was murdered in her home, a young woman moves back into the house with her new husband. However, he has a secret which he will do anything to protect, even if that means driving his wife insane.
The only son of wealthy widow Violet Venable dies while on vacation with his cousin Catherine. What the girl saw was so horrible that she went insane; now Mrs. Venable wants Catherine lobotomized to cover up the truth.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
A New York City doctor, who is married to an art curator, pushes himself on a harrowing and dangerous night-long odyssey of sexual and moral discovery after his wife admits that she once almost cheated on him.
From the time John J. Macreedy steps off the train in Black Rock, he feels a chill from the local residents. The town is only a speck on the map and few if any strangers ever come to the place. Macreedy himself is tight-lipped about the purpose of his trip and he finds that the hotel refuses him a room, the local garage refuses to rent him a car and the sheriff is a useless drunkard. It's apparent that the locals have something to hide but when he finally tells them that he is there to speak to a Japanese-American farmer named Kamoko, he touches a nerve so sensitive that he will spend the next 24 hours fighting for his life. Written by
The script called for Macreedy to light matches one-handed. Spencer Tracy had difficulty with this and convinced director John Sturges to let him use a Zippo lighter, as every veteran he ever met had one. See more »
As the train approaches the town, the horn blows twice, which is the signal for starting up. The mandatory signal for a grade crossing (long, long, short, long) is never blown, although one clearly exists. When the train departs, the conductor makes a confused hand signal to the engineer resembling the horizontal motion that means "stop" rather than the vertical motion that means "go". The engineer never responds with the "long, long" starting signal. See more »
John J. MacReedy:
[picks up Cole's knife]
Wouldn't it have been easier to wait until I turned my back? Or are there too many witnesses present?
You're still in trouble.
John J. MacReedy:
You're in trouble. Whatever happens, you're sunk.
You got things a big twisted...
John J. MacReedy:
You killed Komoko, Smith, and sooner or later, you're gonna go up for it. Not because you killed him, because I think in a town like this you can get away with it, but because you didn't have guts enough to do it alone. You put your trust in guys like these and ...
[...] See more »
For the first time in 4 years the train stops at the small desert town of Black Rock. An one armed war veteran gets off looking for a man whose name causes hostility among the residents of the town, led by Reno Smith. Macreedy digs deeper to find a town hiding a shameful secret that they were too apathetic to deal with. But will they stand up now?
Most people will tell you this film is famous because it was one of the first times an American film acknowledged that, after Pearl Harbour, oriental Americans were abused and treated badly. However to me this film is a damnation to those who stand back and refuse to take a stand against wrong doing. The whole plot is hinged on whether or not people ill stand up and do the right thing with Macreedy. The film plays well as a moral fable but also as a tense thriller and both are enjoyable.
The film is quite short, but builds well from hostile locals to eventual violence and confrontation in the desert. The moral of taking a stand is weaved into it well without taking away from the main drama and tension. It isn't perfect as it is a bit simplified but in the desert heat of the small town the tension is really well recreated.
The cast is surprisingly deep in hindsight. Tracy is manners himself as the man who gets more irate by the apathy around him as he gets to uncover more and more of the town. Ryan is cool but a little too inhuman for my tastes. Jagger and Brennan are suitably trapped in their performances and represent those happy to watch bad things happen if they get a quiet life. In retrospect Borgnine and Marvin add star power and do well with what could have been just thug/heavy roles.
Overall this film worked for me on several levels. The heat of the desert adds to the tension in the actual drama story itself. However it also works as a moral fable with a very clear message stand up for what is right or watch what you believe slip away at an alarming rate.
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