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Bad Day at Black Rock

Spencer Tracy , Robert Ryan , John Sturges    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
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Product Description


One of the first Hollywood films to deal openly with white racism toward Japanese Americans during World War II, this drama directed by 1950s action maestro John Sturges (The Great Escape) stars Spencer Tracy as a one-armed stranger named MacReedy, who arrives in the tiny town of Black Rock on a hot day in 1945. Seeking a hotel room and the whereabouts of an ethnic Japanese farmer named Komoko, MacReedy runs smack into a wall of hostility that escalates into serious threats. In time it becomes apparent that Komoko has been murdered by a local, racist chieftain, Reno Smith (Robert Ryan), who also plans on dispensing with MacReedy. Tracy's hero is forced to fight his way past Smith's goons (among them Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin) and sundry allies (Anne Francis) to keep alive, setting the stage for memorable suspense crisply orchestrated by Sturges. Casting is the film's principal strength, however: Tracy, the indispensable icon of integrity, and Ryan, the indispensable noir image of spiritual blight, are as creatively unlikely a pairing as Sturges's shotgun marriage of Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen in The Magnificent Seven. --Tom Keogh

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where is McReedy when we really need him? Aug. 26 2004
Format:VHS Tape
This is a movie which doesn't "date" because it deals with archetypal (representing oft-repeated types) characters and situations which resonate in our consciousnesses for all time. It's not the fight scenes which move me, in fact, the superhero aspects of Tracy's character detract somewhat from the realities of racism, corruption and guilt over which he somewhat magically triumphs.
When I look at this movie today, it speaks to me of the corruption surrounding us in media, politics and business. For the evil, greedy villain, substitute the global corporation. For the sorry townspeople, substitute all of us who put up with today's culture of greed and violence.
It's as if the bad guys are still winning. But everybody knows that the appeal of westerns is that the good guys in the white hats always win. The tension of this movie is almost unbearable because the bad guys look unbeatable.
I agree that the casting is impeccable, but great casting can't fix a bad movie, as "Gosford Park" demonstrates.
The greatness of this particular movie is that it presents the eternal struggle for justice as a 20th century classic western beautifully crafted.
I disagree with the reviewer who said tennagers won't understand it. The ones who participate in the "anti-globalisation" movement will know exactly what it's about and there are millions of them.
Where is McReedy when we really need him?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bad Day at Black Rock Feb. 25 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Bad Day at Black Rock- a great movie to be shared with family and friends. Spencer Tracey's inspired acting is especially notable in the fight scene. A classic to be treasured.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellen film Nov. 1 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I have always liked this film - it's always checked out at the library.The copy you sent was flawless. Thanks a lot.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent all around Feb. 23 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
One of the great 50s films transferred well with good sound. Perfect commentary by film historian Dana Polan. Like film historian, Christopher Frayling, Polan speaks about what we're seeing and the situation at the time the film was made.. the 50s mileau, the studio system at the time, the director, the actors, the crew, the locations and the script. This is the kind of commentary I love the most. It's by an educated observer who is removed from the film and can appreciate it for what it is, what it was when it came out and what it has become since then in the age of the DVD and how it fits into the Film Noir genre.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Where's the DVD? Nov. 15 2003
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I saw this film a couple of times as a kid and never forgot it. It still has the same effect on me. I have a widescreen copy on vhs and recently played it to a friend who is an up and coming film maker. He said it was one of the best movies he'd ever seen and is easily as good, if not better, than anything similar of its type produced today. Personally, I think it would even make a great stage play. It HAS to be seen in widescreen which brings me to the big question for MGM: WHERE IS THE DVD? C'mon, MGM! I hope you guys read these reviews!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Small towns are like icebergs... Sept. 2 2003
Format:VHS Tape
There is a lot more to this movie than most people give it credit for. First and foremost, we have the opening sequence of a train stopping at a very small town [we see no more than a dozen buildings]. Throughout the movie the main character John MacReedy played by Spencer Tracy, is trying to navigate the cold-shouldered xenophobia of an isolated desert town. If you´¿ve ever read ´¿Winesburg, Ohio´¿ by Sherwood Anderson, you´¿ll know that things are different in small towns, they´¿re much more like families. So you have this social psychological factor of the members of the small town avoiding their darker past, along with a deeper mob mentality when dealing with MacReedy. To use a clich├ę, small towns are icebergs, you see less than there is.
Now that there is some basic foundation to the broader issues touched on in the movie´¿s structure, we can move on to the storyline.
It is expertly played out in the movie, we are given the small town, MacReedy, and his search for a Japanese man. We see but don´¿t understand the threatening behavior of the town folk; slowly it dawns on us and we are left with one man against a town and its secret. I have never encountered a movie quite like this in both execution and style.
It moves quickly, but without the glitz and glam of modern explosion-thons. There is some action, but it is used expertly, and with purpose. The acting is superb, with everyone playing their characters believably.
My favorite scene is when MacReedy gets into a fight with a local townsperson played by Ernest Borgnine. Noting that Tracy´¿s character only has one arm, watching him beat the blazes out of Borgnine is entertaining and pleasing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Has black rock ever had a good day? Aug. 16 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Black Rock. A town out in the middle of nowhere in the California desert. Yet one day, shortly after the end of World War II, an exciting event occurs here. For the first time in four years, the streamliner makes a stop here. Out of it comes one man named Macready (Spencer Tracy), who is also crippled in his left arm. The other townspeople become suspicious when Macready asks to go to Adobe flats to see a Japanese man named Komoko. Macready can't understand why; he's just wants to speak to Komoko about his son, whom Macready served with in Italy. Komoko's son had died defending Macready and, for this, he was awarded a medal that Macready wants to present to Komoko. But something is fishy about this town. It's concealing a secret past, a past that Reno Smith (Robert Ryan) and his henchmen, Coley Trimble (Ernest Borgnine) and Hector David (Lee Marvin) want to keep secret.
"Bad Day at Black Rock" doesn't have too much action. There are a few action scenes, but they are spaced apart. The thing that keeps this movie exciting and suspenseful are the strong, convincing performances. Tracy as the crippled, mysterious and tough loner Macready. Ryan, Borgnine and Marvin are all great as men who want to push Macready over the limit, yet can't seem to faze him. They also run the town, although neither of them is officially sheriff. The real sheriff is a drunken coward played by Dean Jagger. He is also one of the few who befriends Macready. The others include a friendly doctor, T.R Velie, (Walter Brennan) and Liz Wirth (Anne Francis), the sister of Pete Wirth (John Ericson).
The music score, cinematography and direction are also excellent. The score gives the movie another emotional level while the photography gives the desert a foreboding look.
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