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Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)



Average Rating: 6.7/10
Critic Reviews: 6
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 1

No consensus yet.



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Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 5,600

My Rating

Movie Info

This powerfully tense, fast-paced suspense drama also yields a grim social message about racial prejudice. Spencer Tracy is John J. MacReedy, a one-armed stranger who comes to the tiny town of Black Rock one hot summer day in 1945, the first time the train has stopped there in years. He looks for both a hotel room and a local Japanese farmer named Komoko, but his inquiries are greeted at first with open hostility, then with blunt threats and harassment, and finally with escalating violence.


Drama, Mystery & Suspense, Classics

May 10, 2005

MGM Home Entertainment

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All Critics (29) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (28) | Rotten (1) | DVD (10)

John Sturges's macho B-picture is more brawn than brains...but what brawn!

May 19, 2010 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An action film for people who don't like action films.

March 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comments (8)
Chicago Reader
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Considerable excitement is whipped up in this suspense drama, and fans who go for tight action will find it entirely satisfactory.

September 9, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
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Nicely put together by Sturges, its suspense derives largely from the excellent performances and imaginative use of the 'Scope frame by cameraman William C Mellor.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
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Superb, if it weren't, as we said, for the too-obvious liberal teachings that interrupt the terrific ation.

February 17, 2005 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Slowly, through a process of guarded discourse, which Director John Sturges has built up by patient, methodical pacing of his almost completely mate cast, an eerie light begins to glimmer.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I think it's really great the way it addresses the way small communities and isolated communities close in on themselves to protect ugliness.

March 4, 2014 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

This was an early CinemaScope film, and William Mellor frames it all beautifully. It's an outstanding thriller.

March 4, 2014 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

Famous suspense film, with a history lesson and Civil Rights message.

August 16, 2012 Full Review Source: Classic Film and Television
Classic Film and Television

Serves as a moralizing Hollywood lecture on racial prejudice against Japanese-Americans during World War II.

July 29, 2012 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Fabulous 1955 Spencer Tracy story of prejudice.

September 23, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

a portrait of American distrust leading into the potent paranoia of the Cold War

May 24, 2010 Full Review Source:

Millard Kaufman's dialogue at times sticks to the roof of the mouth, but Sturges' visual construction is minute

September 5, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion

A nerve-shredding masterpiece.

March 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Tracy is at his subdued, thoughtful best, while Ryan perfectly conveys the ignorance behind racial prejudice and Borgnine and Marvin are memorable heavies.

March 27, 2009 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

One of Spencer Tracy's best performances

August 17, 2006
Atlantic City Weekly

Like High Noon, it's a self-conscious genre picture, a modern version of the traditional Western used to tackle the problem of racism and discrimination against Japanese-Americans.

December 16, 2005 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Sturges laces his allegory with mounting tension.

May 19, 2005 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

...watching this set of actors go at it with each other, with Tracy as the calm center of gravity, is impressive.

May 15, 2005 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Bad Day at Black Rock is a tightly knit classic that helps one to admire the continuing power of good movies.

May 9, 2005 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

A highpoint in the careers of everyone involved, Bad Day At Black Rock deserves to be ranked alongside the very best modern westerns.

August 27, 2003 Full Review Source: Film4 | Comment (1)

Audience Reviews for Bad Day at Black Rock

John Sturges's 1955 Bad Day at Black Rock is a very different Western. Made slap bang in the middle of the Westerns golden decade, it's contemporaries are among some the greatest of the genre. Bad Day at Black Rock stands out from the rest dramatically. It's filmed in rich technicolor, is a contemporary tale and adopts a noir style that was more commonly used in gangster movies and arty thrillers. Simple and stylish, with powerful performances and a boldness that was unique. The movie sent out quite a political and social message in a time where there was much disruption and injustice but not a lot of talk about it. With the back-drop of the changing West, it tackled small town thinking on a nationwide scale. Spencer Tracy's John J. MacReedy is one of the greatest characters in cinema and Robert Ryan's Reno Smith is one of the most villainous of villains. John Sturges's direction is nothing short of perfection.
July 23, 2014

Super Reviewer

A pretty good suspense movie with Tracy, it has it's good moments, but it also has boring moments.
November 10, 2010

Super Reviewer

Great vehicle for Spencer Tracy that plays on post WWII anti-Japanese sentiment. Terrific cast includes Tracy, Walter Brennan, Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin.
August 30, 2009
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

Modern western about a one-armed stranger who comes to the tiny town of Black Rock in 1945 in search of a man. Immediately he is harassed by the townsfolk. But why are they so hostile? What dark secret lies at the heart of this seemingly nondescript town? The unsurprising answer was perhaps cutting-edge for 1954, but it's rather overused today. Self important message movie is tense and well acted, however. Oscar nominated for Best Actor, Director and Screenplay.
December 6, 2008

Super Reviewer

    1. Coley Trimble: You're a yellow-bellied Jap lover! Am I right or wrong?
    2. John J. Macreedy: You're not only wrong, you're wrong at the top of your voice.
    – Submitted by Kevin B (23 months ago)
View all quotes (1)

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