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Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 7 January 1955 (USA)
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A one-handed stranger comes to a tiny town possessing a terrible past they want to keep secret, by violent means if necessary.

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(screen play), (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Sam
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Walter Beaver ...
Cafe Lounger (unconfirmed)
Billy Dix ...
Cafe Lounger (unconfirmed)
Mickey Little ...
Cafe Lounger (unconfirmed)
K.L. Smith ...
Cafe Lounger (unconfirmed)
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Storyline

From the time John J. Macreedy steps off the train in Black Rock, he feels a chill from the local residents. The town is only a speck on the map and few if any strangers ever come to the place. Macreedy himself is tight-lipped about the purpose of his trip and he finds that the hotel refuses him a room, the local garage refuses to rent him a car and the sheriff is a useless drunkard. It's apparent that the locals have something to hide but when he finally tells them that he is there to speak to a Japanese-American farmer named Kamoko, he touches a nerve so sensitive that he will spend the next 24 hours fighting for his life. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Suddenly you realize murder is at your elbow! - and there's no way out! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

7 January 1955 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bad Day at Hondo  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,271,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(35 mm optical prints) (Western Electric Sound System)| (35 mm magnetic prints)

Color:

(Eastman Color)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Spencer Tracy had great respect for Robert Ryan as an actor. Millard Kaufman recalled that Tracy said to him one day, "Bob is so good in this part, he scares the hell out of me." When Kaufman expressed the same, Tracy replied, "That's good. It means he'll scare the hell out of the audience, too." See more »

Goofs

McCreedy rents the U.S. Army quarter-ton truck (jeep) and drives it around with his one arm. That model truck only had a standard transmission. Yet you can hear the gears shift but McCreedy never engages the clutch or works the shifter. See more »

Quotes

First Train Conductor: Man, they look woebegone and far away.
John J. Macreedy: Oh, I'll only be here twenty-four hours.
First Train Conductor: In a place like this, it could be a lifetime.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Remington Steele: Small Town Steele (1984) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A bad day, a superb film
15 May 2004 | by (Seattle, Washington, USA) – See all my reviews

John Sturges directed this quintessentially tight-constructed masterpiece. This is how it was done in the good old days: nothing falls by the wayside. Tight, clear characterizations, with minimalist dialog, costume, manner, and facial expression all reflecting the inner lives of people in their self-constructed hell. Check out how Hector (Lee Marvin) uses the word "boy" to suggest racial overtones well in advance of the slowly-revealed background plot; how Macreedy (Spencer Tracy) in his dark suit and no-nonsense manner contrasts with everyone else's casual dress and edginess, perfectly reflecting his role as avenging angel; how Coley (Ernest Borgnine), trying to run Macreedy off the road, resembles (probably unintentionally) Joe McCarthy, especially as caricatured by Walt Kelly; and of course how the arch-villain, Reno Smith (Robert Ryan), suggests limitless power with his inimitable smirk and almost languid movements: he controls the town without actually doing anything overt--until Macreedy forces his hand. Nicely turned performances by other major players, too: Dean Jagger (the drunkard Sheriff Tim), Anne Frances (nervous Liz), and Walter Brennan (loquacious, self-justifying Doc). The suggestion that one man can--literally single-handedly--make a moral difference is inspiring (and how that one hand utterly confounds Coley is a nifty, low-key precursor of Bruce Lee-inspired acrobatics). This is a keeper.


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