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
Just before shooting began, an indecisive Spencer Tracy tried to back out of the picture. Weighed down by his growing alcoholism, Tracy refused to commit to the picture. In order to close the deal, an MGM executive contacted Tracy shortly before filming was to begin and said, "Don't worry, Mr. Tracy, a copy of the script has been sent to Alan Ladd and he has agreed to do the picture." The next day, Tracy committed to the film. Ladd, however, apparently never even saw the script. 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 »
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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