Thursday, June 02, 2016

Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)

[Image source: (also linked below). L-R: John J. Macreedy (Spencer Tracy), Reno Smith (Robert Ryan), Mr. Hastings (Russell Collins), Doc Velie (Walter Brennan), Hector David (Lee Marvin), Sam (Walter Sande), Tim Horn (Dean Jagger).]

Flying by Emirates to Dubai is my annual opportunity to watch something. On the way there I just read poetry and snoozed, but on the way back I eagerly flicked through the in-flight entertainment system and I ended up choosing to watch the Globe's Merry Wives of Windsor, a play I love but had never seen performed, and then a classic movie I'd never seen, Bad Day at Black Rock (Spencer Tracy, Robert Ryan).

After I've watched my annual film I always want to rush off and read about it, but this can be frustrating because most of the stuff that gets linked to the movie databases isn't worth looking at.

Images of the cast:

Screenplay (by Don McGuire and Millard Kaufman). Not quite identical to the final movie, but pretty close. (For example it misses Peter Wirth's comment, near the end, about not needing to be told who killed his sister.)

(The heading is wrong. The 1947 short story that the screenplay was based on was called "Bad Time at Honda". It was published under Howard Breslin's own name, contrary to statements that he used his pseudonym Michael Niall .)

History of the shoot:

More behind-the-scenes stuff, mainly from Millard Kaufman's perspective.

Book: The Lives of Robert Ryan

P. 147 describes Tracy as a political conservative who wasn't sure how well he would get on with Robert Ryan. Surprising, as the Behind The Camera piece (see above) talks about ill feeling between the "liberal" Tracy and the "arch-conservative" Walter Brennan.

Here's some appraisals I found interesting:
John Streamas: '"Patriotic Drunk": To Be Yellow, Brave, and Disappeared in Bad Day at Black Rock'
Susan Doll: 'Another Day in Black Rock'

[Image source: Macreedy (Spencer Tracy) confronts Liz Wirth (Anne Francis).]


At 12:54 pm, Blogger mrken said...

Good job. This one is tough. There's even listings for Bad Time At Honda, Michael Niall. That on, there's another book, listing or reprint of the story, under the pseudonym, and we're not all sure of the title(s), anymore. It's very sad. I was touched, this author, born on the same day as I. I want to read the story. I can't find American Magazine, January, 1947.

At 2:06 pm, Blogger Michael Peverett said...

Hi mrken. I want to read the story too. It is in this 1989 collection:

No, But I saw the Movie: The Best Short Stories ever made into Film (Ed. David Wheeler, Foreword by Bruce Jay Friedman)


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