Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Thriller, Western  |  7 January 1955 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 13,539 users  
Reviews: 135 user | 63 critic

A one handed stranger comes to a tiny town possessing a terrible past they want to keep secret, by violent means if necessary.



(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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Complete credited cast:
Russell Collins ...
Walter Sande ...
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)


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


M-G-M's SUSPENSE STORY OF THE YEAR! (original print ad - mostly caps) See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

7 January 1955 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bad Day at Hondo  »

Box Office


$1,271,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

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


(Eastman Color)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


According to Assistant Director Joel Freeman, Spencer Tracy was the only cast member who was not fully cooperative on set. He told John Sturges to avoid close-ups (probably because of his age) and hated to do additional takes. In the garage sequence between him and Robert Ryan, Sturges called for a second take. Tracy asked the crew if they had understood him in the scene. When they said yes, he refused to shoot it again. Sturges remained patient, however, and accommodated the star as he had on their previous picture, The People Against O'Hara (1951). "With Spence, you could print his first rehearsal," he said, noting that he never had to tell his star how to play a scene. See more »


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 »


Hector David: Real cool guy.
Reno Smith: Doesn't push easy, huh?
Hector David: Well, that's it. That's just it. He pushes TOO easy.
See more »


Referenced in Petticoat Junction: Bad Day at Shady Rest (1968) See more »

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User Reviews

Powerhouse Cast in Taut Drama
22 April 2002 | by (Cleveland, Ohio) – See all my reviews

Spencer Tracy heads a great cast in this much-admired drama that takes place in the west. It's a rare treat to see Tracy and Robert Ryan in the same film, with scenes together. Two truly top-notch veterans, with exemplary career acting achievements.

The tight script, solid directing (by John Sturges), a powerful score (by Andre Previn) and outstanding Cinemascope photography combine to elevate "Bad Day at Black Rock" to a place among the great films.

One really cannot fully apprecitate this film on a regular size pan-and-scan screen, and even the letterboxed version doesn't adequately convey the impact of its original Cinemascope moviehouse presentation. One only can try today to imagine the original. Yet, a fine film can overcome format, and "Bad Day" still packs a whopper punch.

21 of 31 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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