Monthly Archives: February 2019

Bad Friendship’s at Black Rock

Bad Day at Black Rock is a rather tense, and quiet suspense drama that dances with a grim social message about racial prejudice. Spencer Tracy is John J. MacReedy, a stranger who comes to the devastatingly empty town of Black Rock in the Summer of 1945, which, evidently, is the first time the train has stopped there in years. He looks for a hotel room, a car, and a local Japanese farmer named Komoko, but in his search he is faced with open hostility, then with blunt threats and harassment, and finally with suspenseful violence. MacReedy soon realizes that he will not be allowed to leave Black Rock. Town boss Reno Smith (Robert Ryan), who had Komoko killed because of his hatred of the Japanese, has also threatened MacReedy for death. MacReedy must battle town threats, the only woman in the town and movie (Anne Francis), and finally Smith himself to stay alive.

Something that made me question both the production and integrity of this movie was the lack of female roles. We are only introduced to one female character in this film, and through action and dialogue it is made very clear to the viewer that Liz Worth is an independent character. She is unfortunately tied down to town by her brother which she claims to be very dependent. From my perspective, MacReedy takes advantage of her. She appears to be one of the very few townspeople with a car and so when MacReedy is in search of one to rent, he goes to Worth and practically demands she let him use it. He does this a few times in the movie and takes her Jeep before she can even get a word in. Her relationship with MacReedy ultimately gets her killed. This is something I found rather strange because in the movie she tells MacReedy that all of these people of the town are her friends yet in the end she is shot and killed and not one single person seems to be upset about her death, including her own brother, who is the reason she is stuck in Black Rock in the first place.

– Bri Forgione

Storyteller versus Liar

“Real life is stranger than fiction” is an applicable quote for Tim Burton’s Big Fish. A large portion of the film is devoted to visualizing the wild tall tales of Edward Bloom. Even though William is against his father’s stories, there is no denying that the visual pairing of orated stories is magical and everyone in the film finds Edward’s tales thrilling–except William. He believes that he doesn’t know his father because all of his life, all he’s ever heard about his father were tall tales. William automatically equates storytelling with lying, and doesn’t even consider that his father’s stories might be true. And why should he, when Edward Bloom has always been known for spinning fantastic tales? William only discovers that his father’s stories held truth at the funeral, where many people from Edward’s tales come to pay their final respects. The viewer is just as shocked as William to see these people because they seemed too fantastical to be true. It turns out that “real life is stranger than fiction” in Big Fish.

Or at least, it is to some extent. While many of the people present at Edward’s funeral are reminiscent of characters from the stories, there are some exceptions. There were never any Siamese twins, like Edward claimed there to be from Vietnam. This is the most apparent exception to Edward’s tale, and it raises the subtle question of how much his tales are true. Yes, the people he spoke about existed, but what about the tales surrounding the people? For instance, the town of Spectre sounds impossible, but the people Edward claimed to be from the town were present at the funeral. Being that fiction can’t possibly mimic real life, is Edward Bloom a liar or a storyteller for expanding on the details of his life?

Gabrielle Esposito

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: Smoking in Movies

I had this post done and ready to go yesterday, however, an error popped up when I tried to save and everything I wrote had been deleted. So here is take two of this blog post. Apologies if it falls short of the original.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a comedic political drama from 1939 following the charismatic Jefferson Smith who tries to fight against the political corruption scandal that he is roped into. Throughout the film, Mr. Smith is depicted as a true American patriot and hero for the average Joe by the media yet in person, he speaks with a nervous demeanor due to the power present in his new “peers”. This demeanor therefore illustrates the trope of “victory for the little guy” in which a small town hero is forced to fight and win against an industrial or political war machine (or any other insurmountable odds portrayed by an immovable force of modern society). Although I would like to discuss this trope further, I felt it necessary to talk about two particular props within the film that frequent the foreground and background of many sequences. These two props, cigars and cigarettes Continue reading Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: Smoking in Movies