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

3 stars

The cast really puts this over, story is nothing that hasn't been done before but the acting and cinemascope make it involving.

- jjnxn, Thursday, January 24, 2008

3 stars

Bad Day at Black Rock starts off pretty slow and Spencer Tracy apparently playing what seems to be his typical regular schmoe/great guy roles he was famous for around this point in his career--minus his left arm of course. But once the movie unfolds (getting past Robert Ryan playing his archetypal shithead he was also famous for, not to mention the general claustrophobia of the movie) and Tracy eventually starts peeling away and beats the shit out of Ernest Borgnine (with ONE arm no less) Bad Day at Black Rock lets loose. Damn fine stuff once it gets going.

- mjgildea, Tuesday, February 19, 2008

5 stars

A tough hard-edged and suspenseful drama with a powerhouse cast lead by Spencer Tracy in a superlative Oscar nominated performance as John J. Macreedy a World War II veteran with a crippled left arm, who comes to the tiny California desert town of Black Rock, one very hot summer day in 1945. Macreedy wants to find a Japanese farmer and give to him the medal won by son, who saved his life and was killed in action.

- Dannyrovira, Wednesday, June 2, 2010