IMDb > Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)
Bad Day at Black Rock
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Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) More at IMDbPro »

Photos (See all 21 | slideshow) Videos (see all 2)
Bad Day at Black Rock -- Spencer Tracy received his fifth Oscar nomination for his portrayal of a one-armed stranger who arrives at a small Southwestern town shortly after WWII in pursuit of a Japanese farmer.
Bad Day at Black Rock -- Trailer for this mystery


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7.8/10   13,535 votes »
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Up 2% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Millard Kaufman (screen play)
Don McGuire (adaptation)
View company contact information for Bad Day at Black Rock on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
7 January 1955 (USA) See more »
Suddenly you realize murder is at your elbow! - and there's no way out! See more »
A one handed stranger comes to a tiny town possessing a terrible past they want to keep secret, by violent means if necessary. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 5 nominations See more »
(75 articles)
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User Reviews:
Tense moral fable See more (135 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Spencer Tracy ... John J. Macreedy

Robert Ryan ... Reno Smith

Anne Francis ... Liz Wirth

Dean Jagger ... Tim Horn

Walter Brennan ... Doc Velie

John Ericson ... Pete Wirth

Ernest Borgnine ... Coley Trimble

Lee Marvin ... Hector David
Russell Collins ... Mr. Hastings
Walter Sande ... 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)
Robert Griffin ... Second Train Conductor (uncredited)
Harry Harvey ... First Train Conductor (uncredited)
Bobby Johnson ... One of Two Porters (uncredited)
Francis McDonald ... Tall - White-haired Cafe Lounger (uncredited)

Directed by
John Sturges 
Writing credits
Millard Kaufman (screen play)

Don McGuire (adaptation)

Howard Breslin (based on a story by)

Produced by
Herman Hoffman .... associate producer
Dore Schary .... producer
Original Music by
André Previn 
Cinematography by
William C. Mellor (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Newell P. Kimlin 
Art Direction by
Malcolm Brown 
Cedric Gibbons 
Set Decoration by
Fred M. MacLean (set decorations) (as Fred MacLean)
Edwin B. Willis (set decorations)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Joel Freeman .... assistant director
Sound Department
Wesley C. Miller .... recording supervisor
Ed Haight .... sound editor (uncredited)
Kurt Hernfeld .... sound editor (uncredited)
Harold Humbrock .... sound editor (uncredited)
Roger Creed .... stunt double: Spencer Tracy (uncredited)
Danny Sands .... stunts (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Alvord Eiseman .... color consultant
Music Department
Leo Arnaud .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Alexander Courage .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Wally Heglin .... orchestrator (uncredited)
André Previn .... conductor (uncredited)
André Previn .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Other crew
John Indrisano .... judo instructor (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production Companies
  • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) (controlled by Loew's Incorporated) (presents) (as M-G-M also) (A CinemaScope Production) (made in Hollywood, U.S.A. by)
DistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
81 min
Color (Eastman Color)
Aspect Ratio:
2.55 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (35 mm optical prints) (Western Electric Sound System) | 4-Track Stereo (35 mm magnetic prints)
Argentina:13 | Australia:PG | Finland:K-12 | New Zealand:PG | Norway:16 | Sweden:15 | UK:A (original rating) (passed with cuts) | UK:PG (tv rating) | UK:PG (video rating) (1993) (1994) | USA:Approved (MPAA rating: certificate #17184) | USA:TV-PG (TV rating) | USA:Passed (The National Board of Review) | West Germany:12 (f)

Did You Know?

Spencer Tracy used to go off by himself into the desert and read the whole script aloud two or three times until he really understood what the picture was about.See more »
Revealing mistakes: Obvious stunt driver for Spencer Tracy during the chase with Coley.See more »
Doc T.R. Velie Jr.:They're gonna kill you with no hard feelings.
John J. Macreedy:And you're gonna sit there and let 'em do it.
Doc T.R. Velie Jr.:I try to live right. I drink my milk every day. But mostly, I try to mind my own business - which is something I'd advise you to do.
See more »
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51 out of 67 people found the following review useful.
Tense moral fable, 9 November 2002
Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom

For the first time in 4 years the train stops at the small desert town of Black Rock. An one armed war veteran gets off looking for a man whose name causes hostility among the residents of the town, led by Reno Smith. Macreedy digs deeper to find a town hiding a shameful secret that they were too apathetic to deal with. But will they stand up now?

Most people will tell you this film is famous because it was one of the first times an American film acknowledged that, after Pearl Harbour, oriental Americans were abused and treated badly. However to me this film is a damnation to those who stand back and refuse to take a stand against wrong doing. The whole plot is hinged on whether or not people ill stand up and do the right thing with Macreedy. The film plays well as a moral fable but also as a tense thriller and both are enjoyable.

The film is quite short, but builds well from hostile locals to eventual violence and confrontation in the desert. The moral of taking a stand is weaved into it well without taking away from the main drama and tension. It isn't perfect as it is a bit simplified but in the desert heat of the small town the tension is really well recreated.

The cast is surprisingly deep in hindsight. Tracy is manners himself as the man who gets more irate by the apathy around him as he gets to uncover more and more of the town. Ryan is cool but a little too inhuman for my tastes. Jagger and Brennan are suitably trapped in their performances and represent those happy to watch bad things happen if they get a quiet life. In retrospect Borgnine and Marvin add star power and do well with what could have been just thug/heavy roles.

Overall this film worked for me on several levels. The heat of the desert adds to the tension in the actual drama story itself. However it also works as a moral fable with a very clear message – stand up for what is right or watch what you believe slip away at an alarming rate.

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Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)
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Most 'Oscars' represented in one film / scene ? jtcbrt
If no one ever stops there... Soujurn
Criterion Release lesoran
Couple of questions zwrite2
Bela Bartok in the Soundtrack ecapital46
where was the location?? lbs1942
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