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 Kamako, he touches a nerve so sensitive that he will spend the next 24 hours fighting for his life. —IMDb
One of Hollywood’s top action directors of the late 1950s and 1960s, John Sturges, for a time, was a name associated almost exclusively with large-scale action-adventure films. A one-time assistant in RKO’s blueprint department, Sturges spent most of his early career in the studio’s art department and editing room (an especially productive department, where directors Robert Wise and Mark Robson also got their starts), before joining David O. Selznick as a production assistant and later as an editor. He became a director in the U.S. Army Air Force, making documentary and training films, including Thunderbolt, in collaboration with veteran director William Wyler. He returned to Hollywood as a director and, for a time, made successful if fairly undistinguished films (mostly action or suspense) until 1954, when he took on Bad Day at Black Rock. Sturges, who had shown a knack for working with the increasingly difficult Spencer Tracy (in The People Against O’Hara), coaxed a great performance… read more
"A very superior example of motion picture craftsmanship. Each movement and line is exact and economical; the cinematographer William Mellor uses CinemaScope and color with intelligent care — the compositions seem realistic, yet they have a stylized simplicity. In part because of this, when the violence erupts, it’s truly shocking.” —Pauline Kael
A train unexpectedly stops at the little town of Black Rock and confuses the locals. A man descends and makes his way to the hotel. The tension begins... This is a crackling suspense drama about a one-arm stranger who encounters hostility on his arrival in town and then discovers the community has something to hide. Sturges expertly builds tension to an explosive climax in a perfectly cast widescreen modern western..
An appreciation of the great American actor Robert Ryan on the occasion of a New York retrospective.
‘Bad Day at Black Rock’ was made at a time when the civil rights movement was starting to gain some traction in America and matters of race where figuring more prominently in public debate. It is a… read review