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Bad Day at Black Rock

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Editorial Reviews

Bad Day at Black Rock (DVD)

Academy Award winner Spencer Tracy stars as John Macreedy, a World War II veteran trying to find the father of the man who saved his life in this classic, taut drama about the evils of racial bigotry. Macreedy arrives one hot afternoon in 1945 aboard the first train to stop in Black Rock in three years. His search for a Japanese American farmer--to whose son he owes his life--leads to this small Western town's closely guarded secret ... a racially motivated murder ... and to the local citizens who will kill again to keep their crime hidden.

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Special Features

  • Theatrical trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Spencer Tracy, Robert Ryan, Anne Francis, Dean Jagger, Walter Brennan
  • Directors: John Sturges
  • Writers: Millard Kaufman
  • Producers: Dore Schary
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: Unknown
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: May 10, 2005
  • Run Time: 82 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (181 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007TKNH4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,893 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Bad Day at Black Rock" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

87 of 90 people found the following review helpful By C. Roberts on December 26, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
"Bad Day at Black Rock" is a riveting suspense thriller with several memorable performances from a first rate cast. Spencer Tracy (in one of his best roles) excels as John J. MacReedy who is in Black Rock to take a medal to the father of one of his wartime colleagues now that the war is over. He encounters unexpected resentment and hostility from some of the residents, in particular from Robert Ryan, Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin who make a trio of formidable villains. When threats and intimidation have no effect on Tracy (who doggedly continues to pursue his investigations) the three then resort to violence. Also in the impressive cast are Anne Francis, Walter Brennan, Dean Jagger, John Ericson and Russell Collins. With the help of Brennan and Francis and after surmounting many obstacles Tracy eventually gets the upper hand bringing the film to its exciting climax.

Some favourite lines from the film:

Spencer Tracy (to train conductor): "Oh, I'll only be here for 24 hours". Train conductor: "In a place like this that could be a lifetime!".

Russell Collins (to Spencer Tracy): "Important? It's the first time the streamliner has stopped here in four years".

Tracy (to Ernest Borgnine): "You're not only wrong - you're wrong at the top of your voice!".

Dean Jagger (to Tracy): "This ain't no information bureau".

John Ericson (to Tracy): "If you're in such a hurry you should have never got off here". Tracy: "I'm inclined to agree with you".

A brilliant and satisfying film expertly directed by John Sturges who later went on to make other classics including "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral", "The Magnificent Seven" and "The Great Escape".
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By David Baldwin on May 19, 2005
Format: DVD
This is a thrilling suspense film from start to finish. Though set apparently in post World War II Arizona the film has the feel of a traditional western. One could draw parallels to another classic western, "High Noon", in that the film's protagonist MacCreedy (Spencer Tracy) is confronted with sociopathic bullies and has difficulty enlisting the aid of the few people of good will in Black Rock. Whereas "High Noon" was considered a metaphor for McCarthyism, "Bad Day at Black Rock" tackles the theme of racism, in this case the prejudice that was prevalent at the time against Americans of Japanese descent. John Sturges crafts such an effective tale that you don't feel you are being preached to. Tracy is solid as the one-armed inquisitor. The supporting cast is all first-rate with Robert Ryan, Ernest Borgnine, and Lee Marvin especially good as the creepy heavies. Great Technicolor and tremendous use of widescreen on display here. Andre Previn contributes an effective score.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By C. O. DeRiemer TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 29, 2005
Format: DVD
It's very satisfying to see a relatively small movie that was made efficiently by pros become so widely liked and respected. It's got just about everything...a gripping story that carries a message, vivid characters but a small cast, a dangerous setting, the plight of a brave loner on the side of justice who beats the odds. And it doesn't have dumb things...an extraneous love story, outraged citizens who meet in a church, excessive violence, time spent on flashbacks. It was a long wait for this one to come out on DVD, but it was worth it.

Among many elements I admire are the three character actors: Russell Collins as the weak, cowardly telegraph agent, Dean Jagger as the played-out sheriff (his humiliation at the hands of Robert Ryan is unpleasant), and, most of all, Walter Brennan as the doctor who tries to push things but isn't dumb enough to push too hard. I think this was one of Brennan's last, really good roles before he turned himself into the toothless old coot or cackling grampa of his later films. In his prime, he was a fine actor. And for vicious bullies I don't think anyone has topped Lee Marvin and Ernest Bognine in their roles. I'd even eat my catsup without any chili at all to avoid a confrontation with these guys.

I have a lot of respect for Robert Ryan but find it sad that, despite a number of opportunities, he never was able to break into the top rank of stardom. Maybe he didn't really want that. Maybe he was too willing to play bad guys. Maybe he lacked some element of charisma or just ambition. He was a fine actor and, from reports, a nice guy.

The DVD transfer is excellent
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Steven Hellerstedt on June 18, 2005
Format: DVD
A nattily dressed one-armed man arrives in a small southwestern town and brings to light a dark, dirty secret the townspeople thought they had buried years ago.
The man is John Macreedy (Spencer Tracy), and what he's doing in Black Rock is slowly - very slowly - revealed. That presents a challenge for someone trying to write about the movie for someone who hasn't seen it. If ever a movie should be watched with an empty bucket of information it's BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK. Suffice it to say that many of the townspeople are less than thrilled to see the man-in-black stranger, and his soon-to-be chief nemesis, Reno Smith (Robert Ryan) makes it his business to see that the town's dirty past stays buried, by whatever means possible.
There's a lot more character interaction than straight out action in BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK. If Ryan's Reno represents an absolute evil, he's abetted by the corrupt (Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin, in particular), the apathetic (town doc Walter Brennan), and the used-up (town sheriff Dean Jagger.) Things change, though, and the ground upon which personal relationships are based tends to shift. Those who could abide the town's evil secret find their position less tenable the longer Macreedy sticks around, and BAD DAY takes great delight in chronicling the changes. As usual, Ryan is just right as the thoughtful bad guy. It's hard to find a movie Ryan was ever miscast in. The Macreedy role plays to Tracy's strength - in particular his ability to project moral righteousness without sermonizing.
Besides a trailer, the dvd carries a commentary track by film historian Dana Polan. I jotted down three of his comments, more or less at random: "This movie asks the question `what is the western in the modern age?
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