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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
According to director John Sturges' commentary track on the Criterion laserdisc, this film was also shot simultaneously in a standard 4:3 ratio version (as well as CinemaScope), because MGM executives were unsure of the wide-screen version. It was never released. See more »
Clouds appear and disappear from shot to shot. For example, during the discussion scene on the railroad tracks about 27 minutes into the film, the clouds above the mountains at the tracks' vanishing point appear in wide shots and disappear in tight shots. See more »
Fine modern Western in which the events crackle with intrigue and suspense
Southern Pacific train express stops in Black Rock . One-armed John J. Macreedy (Spencer Tracy) alights at Black Rock from train express in order to give a medal to the last known relative, Komoko who died five years ago , of a deceased Japanese-American army officer named Joe. His attempts to do so will confront him against the entire little town including the Sheriff (Dean Jagger) himself , a hotel receptionist (John Ericson) , a doctor (Walter Brennan) , the powerful Smith (Robert Ryan)and two thugs ( Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine) , among them . Macreedy attempts to investigate the killing a Japanese farmer that happened shortly after the attack on the Pearl Harbor, the unconditional surrender of Japan, and the resultant hatred towards Japanese-Americans , including the events from Bataan and Corregidor .John suffers a strong hostility and hatred by the inhabitants and neighbours. McReedy uncovering up a terrible secret and being threatened ; attempts will be made to run him off the road while driving ; he will be chased , and the telephone operator will deny to connect him to the Police Station ; the Railway Station's employee will not dispatch a telegram ; meantime the local Mortician will warn him that he should aware for his death by nightfall. While, McReedy tries to go Adobe Flat to find the Kamako corpse and finally is helped by some villagers.
This interesting movie contains marvelous performances from all concerned , suspense , thrills , exciting situations and some action . Based on the novel by Howard Breslin and well adapted by Millard Kauffman who takes a fine material , this is a suspenseful film in which Spencer Tracy plays magnificently as an easy Italian war veteran coming to a township called Black Rock that seems to be hiding a guilty secret . However , too much conversation and too little action bogs down this modern Western , although the argument and intrigue is nice . There are excellent acting from some Hollywood's best players , including prestigious secondaries as Lee Marvin , Ernest Borgnine , Dean Jagger , among others . Thrilling and exciting musical score by Andre Previn who subsequently married Mia Farrow . Colorful cinematography utilizing the new Cinemascope technique by William C Mellor . This ¨Sui Generis¨modern Western is originally directed by John Sturges . He was an expert on Western genre as proved in ¨ Escape from Fort Bravo , The law and Jake Wade , The last train of Gun Hill, The Magnificent seven, Hour of gun , Joe Kidd , The Hallelujah trail ¨ and many others . Rating : Better than average . Worthwhile watching .
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