I just looked through the credits of Ernest Borgnine, who has just died, aged 95. My God, he appeared a lot of terrible films. But it doesn't matter. What matters are the good ones and Borgnine appeared in From Here to Eternity, Vera Cruz, Johnny Guitar, Marty and Ice Station Zebra. But two performances really stand out. He was one of the stars of Sam Peckinpah's masterpiece, The Wild Bunch, but even better than that, Borgnine featured in what is simply the best fight scene in the history of the cinema. Anyone who hasn't seen Bad Day at Black Rock shoud simply stop reading this now and got get hold of it and watch. It's only 81 minutes long, without a wasted word.
To appreciate the following scene, you need to know that Spencer Tracy has arrived in a small town and been subject to relentless suspicion, hostility and provocation. He has been pushed and pushed and pushed and you are both desperate for Tracy to do something in response and uneasy about what will happen when he does. Here, he finally responds - and this was strong stuff for 1955. If asked to defend the portrayal of violence in the cinema, I might simply point at this scene: