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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
The shooting script called for "loafers" (onlookers, bystanders, etc.) but John Sturges kept removing them, preferring to accent the town's desolation with a minimal cast of characters. He kept removing background extras (--a woman hanging out her laundry, someone driving by--), but did shoot a few scenes that had incidental extras, such as a boy called TJ. See more »
When Macreedy tries to escape town with Liz, he doesn't have his suitcase. See more »
[going to be shot by Smith]
I did everything you said!
You two started out in a car and that's the way you're gonna end up - over a cliff, burning! You can blame Macreedy for that, he said I had too many witnesses.
But why me? Why start with me?
I gotta start with somebody.
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This film respects the three unities :unity of place ,unity of action and unity of time .
Unity of place:everything takes place in a one-horse town,Black Rock,where an unusually inventive use of the wide screen makes the small town even more isolated,cut off from the world.When you leave Black Rock,you find a desolate landscape where only some flowers (of death?as Tracy points out)grow.
Unity of action:something happened in "Black Rock" ,something that its inhabitants are anxious that it remains in the shadow.Enter Tracy who seems to know too many things he should.Then all the inhabitants all stand together ,and their conspiracy of silence becomes threatening.What's amazing is that John Sturges (it's probably his best film,he uses Tracy in a much better way than he did in "people against o'Hara" some years before)refuses the easy way out:take for instance the only female character played by Anne Francis ;she does not act as the audience expects .Stand-out remains Robert Ryan,always excellent in one of his villains parts:funny how an actor who was known for his liberal views should have played so many racists ,anti-Semitics (this film,but also Dmytryk's "crossfire" and Wise's "against all odds").Other good performances come from Marvin and Borgnine.
Unity of time:everything happens in the space of 24 hours;first sequence :the train arrives in Black Rock,last sequence:it leaves it.
This is a modern western,which takes place just after WW2."Bad Day at Black Rock" is also,in its own special way, a war movie ,and also an anti-war one,because Tracy's life was saved by a...
Thoroughly enjoyable ,it deserves its reputation of classic.
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