Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)

Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), directed by John Sturges.

The sleek modern diesel electric train never stops at Black Rock, a shabby set of buildings in the California desert. One day it does stop and off steps a white-haired WW2 vet with one hand. They don't like strangers or questions in Black Rock. He persists in asking the wrong questions and finds himself in a death trap.

A well made thriller with an efficient 81 minute noir plot, unusually in color and Cinemascope (MGM's first), and set in the desert rather than city streets. The tension builds right to the action finale: what is the stranger after, and what are the locals concealing? Is he going to get justice? Is he even going to get out of town?

We have an especially fine concentration of talent:

Spencer Tracy had alcohol problems in his later years and it shows up in his acting. He's sometimes a bit mushy in his speech here, but I don't see that he's actually drunk.

Hard charging score by Andre Previn. Filmed at Lone Pine with gorgeous mountain backdrops.