🎥 Bad Day At Black Rock – 1955
The Story …
In late 1945, one-armed John J. Macreedy gets off a train at the isolated Californian desert hamlet of Black Rock.
The residents immediately appear suspicious, as this is the first time in four years that the train has stopped there. After Macreedy states he is looking for a man named Komoko, several of the local men become hostile. Hastings, the telegraph agent, tells him there are no taxicabs.
The hotel desk clerk, Pete Wirth, claims he has no vacant rooms. Hector David threatens him.
Later, Reno Smith informs Macreedy that Komoko, a Japanese-American, was interned during World War II …
Macreedy visits the local sheriff, Tim Horn, but the alcoholic lawman is of no help. The veterinarian and undertaker, Doc Velie, advises Macreedy to leave town immediately but lets slip that Komoko is dead. Pete’s sister Liz rents Macreedy a Jeep. He drives to nearby Adobe Flat, where he finds a homestead burned to the ground and wildflowers growing nearby.
As Macreedy drives back, Coley Trimble tries to run him off the road. Macreedy tries to leave town, but Liz, having been confronted by Smith earlier, refuses to rent him the Jeep again. When Smith asks about his lost left arm, Macreedy discloses that he lost it fighting in Italy.
Macreedy says the wildflowers at the Komoko site lead him to suspect that a body is buried there. Smith reveals that he is virulently anti-Japanese; he tried to enlist in one of the armed services the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, but he failed the physical examination.
Macreedy tries to telephone the state police, but Pete refuses to connect the call. Doc Velie admits that something terrible happened four years ago, but Smith has everyone too terrified to speak openly about it. Velie offers Macreedy his old hearse to leave town, but Hector disables it. Macreedy writes a telegram to the state police and gives it to Hastings.
Macreedy goes to the diner where Trimble provokes a fight with him but Macreedy, though disabled, easily beats Trimble by using martial arts. Macreedy confronts Smith and accuses him of killing Komoko with the help of others. Hastings arrives and tries to give Smith a piece of paper, but Macreedy snatches it away from Smith.
It is his unsent telegram. Macreedy and Velie tell Hastings he has broken the law and demand that Horn take action. Horn stands up to arrest Hastings, but Smith pulls the sheriff’s badge off Horn’s shirt and pins it on Hector, who casually tears up the telegram.
After Smith and Hector leave, Macreedy reveals that the loss of his arm had left him wallowing in self-pity, but Trimble’s attempt to kill him has reinvigorated him. Macreedy finally reveals that Komoko’s son died in combat (with the 442nd Infantry Regiment) while saving his life.
Macreedy came to town intending to give the man’s medal to Komoko. Macreedy learns that the elder Komoko had leased some farmland from Smith, who was sure there was no water.
Komoko dug a well and found water. After Smith was rejected for military service, he and the other men got to drinking, then decided to scare Komoko. The old man barricaded himself inside his home, but the men set it on fire. When Komoko emerged ablaze, Smith shot and killed him.
Doc and Pete enlist Liz to help Macreedy escape under cover of darkness. Hector is standing guard outside the hotel; Pete lures him into the office, where Doc Velie knocks him unconscious. Liz drives Macreedy out of town but stops at Adobe Flat. Macreedy realizes he has been set up.
When Smith starts shooting at him, Macreedy shelters behind the Jeep. Liz rushes towards Smith despite Macreedy’s warning. Smith tells her that she has to die along with the rest of his accomplices – Smith shoots her in the back as she flees.
Macreedy finds a bottle and fills it with gas from the Jeep’s fuel tank to create a Molotov cocktail. When Smith climbs down for a better shot, Macreedy throws the Molotov cocktail against a boulder, setting Smith on fire …
The story unfolds
- Directed by : John Sturges
- Screenplay by : Millard Kaufman and Don McGuire (adaptation)
- Based on : “Bad Time at Honda” 1947 short story in The American Magazine
- by Howard Breslin
- Produced by : Dore Schary
- Cinematography : William C. Mellor
- Edited by : Newell P. Kimlin
- Music by : André Previn
- Distributed by : Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
- Release Date : January 7, 1955
- Spencer Tracy as John J. Macreedy
- Robert Ryan as Reno Smith
- Anne Francis as Liz Wirth
- Dean Jagger as Sheriff Tim Horn
- Walter Brennan as Doc Velie
- John Ericson as Pete Wirth
- Ernest Borgnine as Coley Trimble
- Lee Marvin as Hector David
- Russell Collins as Mr Hastings
- Walter Sande as Sam, the diner owner
Film Information Source :
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