Bad Day at Black Rock

Bad Day at Black Rock (1954)
This is not a western. It is set in the West, but the time is shortly after World War II. Spencer Tracy plays a one-armed veteran with a final “mission” to perform. He gets off a train at Black Rock, a very small town with a terrible secret, and is confronted with a trio of bad men and one bad woman who are determined to keep their evil secret and willing to kill to do so.

Tracy’s character is emotionally worn out and feeling sorry for himself. He has to cope with an evil Robert Ryan, a sadistic Lee Marvin, a bullying Ernest Borgnine, a cunning Anne Francis, and a drunken and unsympathetic sheriff played by Dean Jagger. The only man willing to help is Walter Brennan, the local doctor, who is also threatened when he tries to help. The other townspeople are slightly sympathetic toward Tracy but are either too apathetic or too afraid to help. Also, Tracy is unarmed, whereas his opponents are not.

The film is mysterious, frightening at times, and thought-provoking. It was nominated for three Oscars, including Spencer Tracy for Best Actor. Although the film didn’t win any Academy Awards, it featured three past winners and two future winners.

I have seen this film many times and I strongly recommend it.
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