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Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)

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

Director:

John Sturges

Writers:

Millard Kaufman (screen play), Don McGuire (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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 Walter Beaver ... Cafe Lounger (unconfirmed)
Billy Dix Billy Dix ... Cafe Lounger (unconfirmed)
Mickey Little Mickey Little ... Cafe Lounger (unconfirmed)
K.L. Smith K.L. Smith ... Cafe Lounger (unconfirmed)
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

15 May 1955 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

Bad Day at Hondo See more »

Filming Locations:

Mojave Desert, Arizona, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,271,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$1,966,000, 31 December 1955

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$3,788,000, 31 December 1955
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (35 mm optical prints) (Western Electric Sound System)| 4-Track Stereo (35 mm magnetic prints)

Color:

Color (Eastman Color)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Exteriors for this film (particularly the trip to "Adobe Flat") were filmed in and around Lone Pine, CA (a location often used by other films, especially westerns). The Japanese farmer central to the plot was (supposedly) sent to an (unnamed) internment camp after Pearl Harbor. Coincidentally, Lone Pine is just five miles from Manzanar, the best known internment camp. Present-day visitors may inspect both the Alabama Hills and Manzanar locations. See more »

Goofs

In the opening train sequence, two different trains were filmed. The first had different locomotives than the second (as evidenced by loco numbers); the second train shown stopping in town had a dining car just behind the locomotives which the first train didn't. See more »

Quotes

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 »

Connections

Referenced in The Way of the Gun (2000) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Spence licks the town with one arm
27 October 2005 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Bad Day at Black Rock turned out to be the final film that Spencer Tracy did on his MGM contract. The following year he was fired off the set of Tribute to a Bad Man and left MGM abruptly. Some reward for an actor who brought so much prestige to that studio.

Tracy gets off a train at a hole in the wall, whistlestop, speedtrap of a town called Black Rock located somewhere in the Mojave desert. He's looking for a Japanese farmer named Komoko who seems to have vanished. And the townspeople are downright unfriendly to the stranger.

It gradually dawns on Tracy that by probing about Komoko's whereabouts, he's stepped in one big festering pile and he's put himself in danger. What he does about it is the rest of the film.

John Sturges keeps the tension going here worthy of an Alfred Hitchcock film. In fact if Hitchcock had ever decided to do a western and was presented with Bad Day at Black Rock, I doubt he could do it any better. Certain arty Hitchcock touches are missing, but the suspense is there. Sturges was in fact nominated for Best Director.

As was Tracy nominated for Best Actor. He lost ironically to one of his fellow cast members Ernest Borgnine who copped the big prize for Marty. But in fact any one of the small cast could have been nominated. I'm not sure why chief villain Robert Ryan wasn't.

A fews years later John Sturges directed another film The Law and Jake Wade about Robert Taylor being held prisoner by Richard Widmark and his gang. There was a lot of suspense there as well, similar to Bad Day at Black Rock, as to whether Taylor would escape his predicament.

For a feature film in 1955 it is a rather short one, less than 90 minutes. But as Tracy said in another film, what there is is cherce.


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