Monday, June 23, 2014

TODAY'S NUGGET: Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) - Clues are Spice, Not Meat (Pacing)

[Quick Summary: A stranger arrives to an unwelcome reception at Black Rock.]

Read this script NOW.

One Oscar winning screenwriter called it an "airtight...seamless" script.

Paul Thomas Andersen said he learned directing from the director's commentary for this film.

For me, I learned about how to dole out the clues (pacing).

ex. A stranger (Macreedy) arrives by train in a small town.

He announces he needs to drive to Adobe Flat (p.6), a few miles away, but we don't find out why until about p. 27.

Did you see that? Page TWENTY-SEVEN!

So what does happen between the clues?

- He has to deal with the WHOLE town.
- He runs into the biggest landowner, Smith, who bullies the town.
- He can't rent a car, get a room, or a decent meal.
- Everyone, except him, knows the guilty secret about Adobe Flat.

If this were written today, Macreedy would be hinting and/or dropping clues for the whole 27 pages.

I marvel at this script because he does not.

Instead, the meat of the story is Macreedy's character conflicts versus the town folk.

Clues are reserved as spice, to be used sparingly.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: I've been using clues as meat for way too long.

Bad Day at Black Rock (shooting script)(1955)
Written by Don McGuire and Millard Kaufman
Based on the story, "Bad Day at Hondo" by Howard Breslin

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