Bad Day at Black Rock

Movie Information

In Brief: Clocking in at a tight 81 minutes, John Sturges' Bad Day at Black Rock (1954) is everything you don't expect from a John Sturges movie. It's taut, tense, and it doesn't dawdle. The film is an expression of the increasingly leftist slant that MGM had taken after Dore Schary had managed to oust right-winger Louis B. Mayer from controlling the studio. (The idea was unthinkable of a movie under Mayer dealing with an embittered war hero coming to Black Rock and uncovering a racially motivated murder and a conspiracy to cover it up.) Spencer Tracy is uncommonly good, and the whole cast is strong — even if Ernest Borgnine's role seems like reheated William Bendix. Though the film suffers from being an early Cinemascope production — there's not a single close-up in the movie — Sturges evidences a clear understanding of composing for the wide screen. It isn't quite a great movie, but it's a very good one.  This excerpt was taken from a review by Ken Hanke published on May 26, 2015.
Genre: Drama
Director: John Sturges
Starring: Spencer Tracy, Robert Ryan, Anne Francis,Walter Brennan, Dean Jagger, Ernest Borgnine, Lee Marvin
Rated: NR

The Hendersonville Film Society will show Bad Day at Black Rock on Sunday, July 8, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community, 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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