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Thursday August 16th 2018

Bad Day at Black Rock | 1955

Bad Day at Black Rock filming location: Lone Pine, California
Bad Day at Black Rock filming location: Lone Pine, California

The enigmatic John J Macreedy (Spencer Tracy) arrives in a small desert town with a big secret in this excellent, pared-down suspenser.

‘Black Rock’ has nothing to do with it – the script was called Bad Day At Hondo until John Wayne turned up in 1953 with a movie called Hondo. Writer Millard Kaufman stopped for gas in the tiny town of 'Black Rock', Arizona, and a new title was born.

Interiors were filmed on the lot at MGM, but the desert exteriors were shot on the edge of Death Valley, at Lone Pine on Route 395, central California. The Lone Pine Branch of the Southern Pacific Railroad, which once linked Mojave and Lone Pine, has long since gone.

Lone Pine, and its strange Alabama Hills rock formations, have been a phenomenally popular Western location – the local road is called Movie Road. There are trails you can follow to view locations of the many films shot here; there’s even an annual Lone Pine Film Festival.