Just an addendum to the previous post: I've been wracking my mind for an example in prose that handles a large number of characters in a way similar to Bad Day at Black Rock does in a movie.
I think one of the best ways I've seen this done is in non-fiction. Walter Lord's book about the sinking of the Titanic, A Night To Remember, uses the voice of an omniscient reporter to quickly dip in and out of the point of view of many characters. While his prose can't move as quickly as a camera can in a movie, his technique is definitely a well-established one for giving us a relatively fast picture of many individual characters.
You can check out a sample of the Kindle edition at Amazon. A Night to Remember.
That brought another book to mind, The False Inspector Dew, a mystery novel by Peter Lovesey. Lovesey borrowed from Lord's style to set up some back story to the book's mystery: the sinking of the Luisitania. He actually has two set up scenes, so this one happens as chapter 2. This is also in the sample available online. The False Inspector Dew.
I know there are many more. I suspect there are quite a few such scenes in various hard-boiled novels and in short fiction and literary fiction. I think John Le Carre has also included such scenes (he's fond of interesting points of view like omniscient.) But none come to mind immediately. I remember the stories, not the styles.
ADDENDUM TO THE ADDENDUM: the first few comments here have got me thinking. I'm going to make the next post about introducing a large cast of characters -- in a different way than Bad Day at Black Rock did. This is the way books more or less have to do it: as individuals.
I will probably talk about one or another of Robert Altman's films. (Probably Cookie's Fortune.) But here is where we can also talk about books -- mysteries and some kinds of romance in particular. Georgette Heyer did both good and bad work with this sort of thing. Christie didn't often have a huge relevant cast... but when she did, she did it masterfully. (Murder on the Orient Express, anyone?)
But I'll also talk about the delayed entrance, which helps with a large cast, but also is a dramatic technique that works fine with smaller casts.We'll see if that turns into more than one post....
See you in the funny papers.