Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)

John Sturges directs Spencer Tracy, Robert Ryan and Ernest Borgnine in this thriller where a disabled WWII Vet stops off at a one horse town full of secrets and aggression.

A pure piece of cinema, it just does what it has to do with bold, unadorned confidence. You get a modern day Western as the stranger faces down a dusty town that angle to kill him. You get a noir in the harsh daylight mystery as we and Spencer Tracy try to figure just why an entire town is so cagey and threatening. You get a blunt political allegory about racism, McCarthyism and lynch mob mentalities. Never back or side or allow a bully, never help them, as they’ll either own you or turn on you. You get a trademark Sturges manly ensemble… he directs men ganging up, men facing off and men squaring up like no one else. And in glorious Technicolor. You get the perfect line… “You’re not only wrong, you’re wrong at the top of your voice.” Can’t wait to use that one next time I have to deal with a loudmouth dickhead. Sure, some of that constantly brawling tension is ruined by the fact they clearly have settled on killing Tracy’s lone sticky beak by the end of the first act… and then they don’t… even though there’s nothing stopping them. Not even morals. Not even decency. A quibble. This is a formidable thriller.


Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog

We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here

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