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
John Sturges had scheduled an entire day for the scene in which Macreedy tries to find out from Smith what happened to the Japanese farmer. Spencer Tracy and Robert Ryan were so good, however, that shooting was completed by nine in the morning. An amazed Sturges called for a print and started to move on to another set-up, but Tracy stopped him, insisting the schedule called only for the one scene that day. "Bob, let's take off," he said to Ryan, and the two left the set, forcing Sturges to try to shoot around Tracy, who was in nearly every 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 »
You're not Sheriff any more. You're so pathetic you just lost a job.
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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.
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