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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 4 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 ... 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:

Just the way it happened - when the stranger came to town - and the girl and the killer and the sheriff hid the guilt and the shame in a reign of terror! (original print ad) See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The train seen in the movie is made up of the Southern Pacific RR (the SP) Daylight streamlined passenger cars including the Parlor Observation car on the rear of the train. SP didn't have passenger service on this line. The train was chartered from the SP by MGM. In 1955 the Daylights were deluxe day trains operating between Los Angeles to San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento (via the Coast Route and the San Joaquin Valley). They carried chair car, parlor car (first class), dining cars and tavern/bar cars. Large dome cars were being added. The train stands out because of the unique paint scheme of red, orange and black. The diesel engine was not used on passenger trains but for freight trains. By 1955 SP was beginning to face stiff competition from the airlines. The Daylights would end service when Amtrak took over passenger service in the early 1970s. See more »

Goofs

Macreedy is described several times, by different characters, as "a big man" (meaning physically). But, at a reported height of only 5' 8 1/2", Spencer Tracy (portraying Macreedy) could hardly be considered "big" by any physical measure. See more »

Quotes

Doc T.R. Velie Jr.: I was just wondering what all you people are worrying about... not that I have the slightest idea. I hold no truck with silence. I've got nothing to hide. It's just that you worry about the stranger only if you look at him from a certain aspect - from my perspective, I look upon him with the innocence of a fresh-laid egg.
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Alternate Versions

To receive an 'A' (PG) certificate in 1955 the UK cinema version was subject to heavy BBFC cuts. These included Macreedy striking Hector with the brass fire hose nozzle and the climactic shots of Reno on fire. Later TV showings and video releases were fully uncut. See more »

Connections

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

User Reviews

 
Classic genre in transition
15 December 2004 | by alfiefamilySee all my reviews

"Bad Day at Black Rock" is one of the more interesting "westerns" ever made. Told in the present(1955), it has all of the elements and feel of the classic western that may have taken place eighty years prior to this. From the first shot of the modern day locomotive traveling along the same path that many a stagecoach may have taken, you realize that this is a story about a way of life that has not been totally brought up to date. Where strangers are suspicious, secrets that take place in a town stay in the town.

John Sturges has done a wonderful job of bringing all of these elements together. One of the things that I found interesting was that there were very few, if any, close-ups. Most of the shots could have been master shots. For me, this made me feel as though I were a by-stander in the room with the characters while they talked. A nice touch.

As expected all of the performances are great. Tracy, Ryan, Brennan, and Jagger are all terrific. As are Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine (two actors at the time who were about to break out, and become top-line stars).

If you like classic westerns, and great acting, "Bad Day at Black Rock" will not disappoint.

8 out of 10


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 February 1955 (Canada) 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)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$10,813
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Company Credits

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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
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