Box art for Bad Day At Black Rock

Bad Day At Black Rock

  • Rated NR

drama, thrillers

Oscar-winner Spencer Tracy received his fifth Oscar nomination for his portrayal of a one-armed stranger who arrives at a small Southwestern town shortly after WWII in pursuit of a Japanese farmer.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

ON for kids age 10
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
2 out of 5
0 out of 5
1 out of 5
3 out of 5

Classic story of prejudice has powerful performances.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this film is a thriller, with intense scenes including a scary car chase and a scene in which one person is shot and another is killed with a homemade bomb, but the violence is not graphic. This film has a stellar performance by Spencer Tracy, offers a dark view of how overseas wars affect those on the homefront, and has strong themes of race and prejudice.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about prejudice -- in terms of both race and the disabled. What does it mean to say, "a man is only as big as what makes him mad?" Think about a time you got mad. How big was the thing that made you mad? How do you measure? The people in the town had different reasons for obeying Reno. What were they? How did MacReedy change? What did he learn about himself?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: Slowly, through a process of guarded discourse, which Director John Sturges has built up by patient, methodical pacing of his almost completely mate cast, an eerie light begins to glimmer.

- Bosley Crowther, New York Times, Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Rotten: An action film for people who don't like action films.

- Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader, Friday, March 27, 2009

Fresh: Superb, if it weren't, as we said, for the too-obvious liberal teachings that interrupt the terrific ation.

- Enrique Fernandez, Miami Herald, Thursday, February 17, 2005

Audience Reviews

4 stars

Great vehicle for Spencer Tracy that plays on post WWII anti-Japanese sentiment. Terrific cast includes Tracy, Walter Brennan, Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin.

- flixsterman, Sunday, August 30, 2009

3 stars

Modern western about a one-armed stranger who comes to the tiny town of Black Rock in 1945 in search of a man. Immediately he is harassed by the townsfolk. But why are they so hostile? What dark secret lies at the heart of this seemingly nondescript town? The unsurprising answer was perhaps cutting-edge for 1954, but it's rather overused today. Self important message movie is tense and well acted, however. Oscar nominated for Best Actor, Director and Screenplay.

- hobster1, Saturday, December 6, 2008

3 stars

The story seems a little bit improbable, but what a great cast. Walter Brennan, for sure, has all the best lines. Definitely not one of Tracy's bigger challenges. Indeed this is one he could have pulled off with one arm tied behind his back.

- binky013, Monday, September 1, 2008