Black Rock: A town out in the middle of nowhere in the California desert.
Yet one day, shortly after the end of World War II, an exciting event occurs here. For the first time in four years, the streamliner makes a stop here. Out of it comes one man named Macreedy (Spencer Tracy), who is also crippled in his left arm. The other townspeople become suspicious when Macreedy asks to go to Adobe Flats to see a Japanese man named Komoko. Macreedy can't understand why; he's just wants to speak to Komoko about his son, whom Macreedy served with in Italy. Komoko's son had died defending Macreedy and for this he was awarded a medal that Macreedy wants to present to Komoko. But something is fishy about this town. It's concealing a secret past, a past that Reno Smith (Robert Ryan) and his henchmen Coley Trimble (Ernest Borgnine) and Hector David (Lee Marvin) want to keep secret.
Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) is exciting and suspenseful from start to finish, thanks to the strong, convincing performance of Spencer Tracy (Best Actor Oscar nominee) as the crippled, mysterious, and tough loner Macreedy. Tracy's Macreedy is rather different from other such western heroes of the period. For one thing, he is almost impossible to break. He knows that if he strikes first, the others will beat him up and call self-defense. He also doesn't react because he can't do much with one arm (or so we think).
Ryan, Borgnine, and Marvin are all equally impressive as men who want to push Macreedy over the limit, yet can't seem to faze him. They also run the town, although neither of them is officially sheriff. The real sheriff is a drunken coward played wonderfully by Dean Jagger. He is also one of the few who befriends Macreedy. The others include a friendly doctor, T.R. Velie (Walter Brennan), and Liz Wirth (Anne Francis), the sister of Pete Wirth (John Ericson).