I thought a bit of clarity on what all these movies have in common is in order. I had previously mentioned the theme for this year’s 12 Days of Christmas was movies that contained gifts or boxes but it occurred to me that maybe I should give a better explanation. All these movies contain a MacGuffin whether it’s a someone bringing a gift or a mysterious box that everyone wants. They’re Christmas MacGuffins. For those unfamiliar with the term it means “a plot element that catches the viewers’ attention or drives the plot of a work of fiction”. It was coined by Alfred Hitchcock and was a plot element that he used quite often.
Today’s movie is John Sturges’ 1955 classic Bad Day at Black Rock. Spencer Tracy plays a crippled WWII vet who stops off at the near deserted town of Black Rock. A place where the train hasn’t stopped at in over four years. Tracy is there looking for a Japanese immigrant named Komoko. He has brought him something special for him but the town’s people are less than helpful. Robert Ryan is a rancher that pretty much runs the town and he informs Tracy that Komoko no longer lives in the town – he was relocated to an internment camp. Another resident accidentally lets it slip that Komoko is dead. It’s revealed that Tracy fought with Komoko’s son in the war and he has brought a medal that was awarded to Komoko’s son. Clearly the town is hiding a dark secret and Tracy starts to investigate.