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Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)

Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)

Spencer TracyRobert RyanAnne FrancisDean Jagger
John Sturges


Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) is a English movie. John Sturges has directed this movie. Spencer Tracy,Robert Ryan,Anne Francis,Dean Jagger are the starring of this movie. It was released in 1955. Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) is considered one of the best Crime,Drama,Mystery,Thriller,Western movie in India and around the world.

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.


Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) Reviews

  • A bad day, a superb film


    John Sturges directed this quintessentially tight-constructed masterpiece. This is how it was done in the good old days: nothing falls by the wayside. Tight, clear characterizations, with minimalist dialog, costume, manner, and facial expression all reflecting the inner lives of people in their self-constructed hell. Check out how Hector (Lee Marvin) uses the word "boy" to suggest racial overtones well in advance of the slowly-revealed background plot; how Macreedy (Spencer Tracy) in his dark suit and no-nonsense manner contrasts with everyone else's casual dress and edginess, perfectly reflecting his role as avenging angel; how Coley (Ernest Borgnine), trying to run Macreedy off the road, resembles (probably unintentionally) Joe McCarthy, especially as caricatured by Walt Kelly; and of course how the arch-villain, Reno Smith (Robert Ryan), suggests limitless power with his inimitable smirk and almost languid movements: he controls the town without actually doing anything overt--until Macreedy forces his hand. Nicely turned performances by other major players, too: Dean Jagger (the drunkard Sheriff Tim), Anne Frances (nervous Liz), and Walter Brennan (loquacious, self-justifying Doc). The suggestion that one man can--literally single-handedly--make a moral difference is inspiring (and how that one hand utterly confounds Coley is a nifty, low-key precursor of Bruce Lee-inspired acrobatics). This is a keeper.

  • A Classic


    A film of rare economy, elegance and stillness. Pretentious as it may sound, there's a perfect balance of tension and space about this film. Not a word or scene or character is wasted or unnecessary. The other reviewers here give a plot outline and performance details. Tracy dominates the picture, his black and white appearance setting out the clarity of his moral position. The other main presence in this classic picture is the silence. Sturges SHOWS us silence, and what denial can do to a community. I'd just like to make a recommendation to those who think that great cinema need sound and action - watch Bad Day at Black Rock, and sink yourself into its opening emptiness and cut-to-the-bone story. 9/10

  • Legendary actor Spencer Tracy leads notable cast in unmissable film


    "Bad Day at Black Rock" is only a short film by present day standards (at just 81 minutes) but in that time it manages to pack in more intrigue, mystery and action than many Hollywood films of two hours or more. Expertly directed by John Sturges in breathtaking colour and CinemaScope the film holds your attention throughout its tight running time. "Bad Day at Black Rock" has an exceptionally talented supporting cast including Robert Ryan, Ernest Borgnine, Lee Marvin, Anne Francis, John Ericson, Dean Jagger and Walter Brennan who all give accomplished performances - particularly the baddies Ryan, Borgnine and Marvin. Spencer Tracy was deservedly nominated for the Best Actor Award but unfortunately for him 1955 was a very exceptional year with so many fine performances from other actors including Ernest Borgnine in "Marty" (the winner), James Cagney in "Love Me Or Leave Me", James Dean in "East of Eden", and Frank Sinatra in "The Man With the Golden Arm". Tracy had in fact won the Best Actor Award twice before - for "Captains Courageous" in 1937 and for "Boys Town" in 1938 so his memorable screen acting had already been recognised by the Academy voters two years running. Tracy plays the mysterious John J. MacReedy who arrives at the small Western town of Black Rock causing suspicion and concern among the local residents who are hiding a dark secret which MacReedy eventually uncovers. Robert Ryan (Reno Smith) is the chief heavy well supported by his two menacing henchmen Ernest Borgnine (Coley Trimble) and Lee Marvin (Hector David) who are intent on getting rid of Tracy one way or another. Insults and intimidation seem to have no effect on Tracy who is determined to carry on with his one man investigation against all the odds. With the eventual help of Anne Francis (Liz Wirth) and Walter Brennan (Doc Velie) Tracy doggedly pursues his mission through the 24 hours period of the film. When threats and violence won't stop Tracy then Ryan has to resort to attempted murder leading to the dramatic climax. Some favourite lines: Tracy (to Marvin): "I don't know why you're so interested but the name is MacReedy. It's all in the ledger". Borgnine (to Tracy): "Well, if it's not MacReedy, the world's champion road hog". Walter Brennan (to Tracy): "They're going to kill you with no hard feelings". Tracy: "And you're going to sit there and let 'em do it!". Train Conductor: "What's all the excitement? What happened?". Tracy: "A shooting". Train Conductor: "Thought it was something. First time this train line has stopped here in four years". Tracy: "Second time!". (Last line in film). "Bad Day at Black Rock" is a superior high class thriller that deserves to be in anyone's "Top Ten" list of all time classic films. It's certainly in mine! 10/10. Clive Roberts.

  • Good Thriller On A Bad Day.


    MGM's glitzy 1955 thriller BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK is still one of the most popular movies of the fifties. Produced for the studio by Dore Schary it was nicely written for the screen by Millard Kaufman and came from a story called "Bad Time At Hondo" by Howard Brisken. It is the type of movie that was made in the forties in black & white and would have been regarded as a typical classic noir. But here, filmed in Cinemascope and colour by William C. Mellor, it regretfully loses a lot of the noir atmosphere while thankfully hanging on to the suspense and excitement inherent in those much cherished movies of long ago. Briskly directed by John Sturges the fine cast is headed by Spencer Tracy. This was something of a departure for the actor. He hadn't really appeared in this kind of picture before. It was more like something his friend James Cagney would do with little difficulty. In fact Cagney was originally slated to do the movie but Tracy - while filming a western "Tribute To A Badman" - fell out with its director Robert Wise and walked off the set and was replaced by Cagney at very short notice. Since Tracy now owed MGM a picture and BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK was without a lead and a start-up date imminent he reluctantly took up the assignment. But I'm not totally convinced Tracy was wholly right for the part. He was 54 years old when he made it but with his silver hair he could look ten years older. That said he does a fair enough job and it even earned him an Oscar nomination. But I still would have loved to see what sort of a job Cagney would have made of it. It is 1946 and the war has ended in Europe. Tracy plays John J. Macreedy who arrives by train in the tiny desert hamlet of Black Rock ("It's the first time the Streamline has stopped here in four years" declares Telegraph Agent Russell Collins). He is here to present Komoko, a Japanese American farmer, with a medal that was posthumously awarded to his son for bravery during action in Italy. But Macreedy is greeted in the town with disdain and silence. The town is hiding a crucial secret and before long he learns that Komoko is dead and had died under suspicious circumstances. As he gets nearer and nearer to what exactly happened attempts are made on his life (an exciting desert car chase is particularly effective) and with the help of the kindly local doctor (Walter Brennan) and a remorseful hotelier (John Ericson) he must now endeavour to get out of Black Rock one way or another. BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK is an entertaining thriller but it's not without its faults. Most glaring is the music score by Andre Previn. Firstly it is much too loud! Almost every closing line of a scene is accompanied by screaming, and I mean screaming, descending string passages that have you diving for the volume control of your TV. Previn doesn't do,or never did, subtle or sensitive. He over emphasizes, and very loudly, every would be suspenseful moment in the picture. Even Max Steiner (a composer who was often castigated for his "wall to wall" and emphatic style of scoring and one whose work Previn, on more than one occasion, publicly and disparagingly discredited) would never be so blatant. It is interesting to note here that unlike the estimable Steiner not one of Previn's film scores is worth remembering! Also a problem with the movie is the inordinate lack of character development. We never learn anything about the individuals that make up the sparse population of the town. For instance all we know about shady Reno Smith (Robert Ryan) is that he owns a ranch outside of town but is he married or has he a family or who works for him or what? The same goes for the other men in the town ie. Ernest Borgnine, Lee Marvin, Dean Jagger,John Ericson, Walter Brennan, Walter Sande, you never see any of the women or the families in their lives. In fact, apart from barely getting a fleeting glimpse of a couple of women in the final scene watching the police arresting the baddies, throughout the entire picture you will never see a woman crossing the street, eating in the local diner, coming or going through the hotel, doing a bit of shopping or anything else that female extras are hired to do in movies. The only female in the cast is Anne Francis who has a small role as a girl who runs the local garage but we don't know if she owns it or if there is a man in her life or what. I found this whole female aspect of the film under written, very strange and somewhat off-putting. Nevertheless, size-able and annoying quibbles apart there is still much enjoyment to be had from BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK thanks to the handsome mounting of the movie and some nice ensemble playing from a distinguished cast.

  • A silence conspiracy speaks louder than words.


    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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