Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) Script


Man, they look woebegone and faraway.

I'll only be here 24 hours.

In a place like this, it could be a lifetime.

Good luck, Mr. Macreedy. Thank you. Thanks very much.

You for Black Rock?

That's right. There must be some mistake.

I'm Hastings, the telegraph agent. Nobody told me this train was stopping.

They didn't? No, I just told you they didn't.

And they ought to. What I want to know is, why didn't they?

Maybe they didn't think it was important. Important?

It's the first time the streamliner stopped here in four years.

You being met? You visiting folks or something?

I mean, what do you want?

I want to go to a place called Adobe Flat. Are there any cabs available?

Adobe Flat? No cabs.

Hotel open?

Is the hotel open?

Thank you.

Pete, now listen.

A man just got off the train and asked for Adobe Flat.


Anything I can do for you?

You run this hotel? No.

Then there's nothing you can do for me.

Find Smith.

Hello. Like a room.

We're all filled up. Have you any idea where I could...

This is 1945, mister. There's been a war on.

It ended a couple of months ago, didn't it?

Yeah, but the OPA lingers on.

You don't know about the OPA? No, you tell me.

Well, for establishments with less than 50 rooms... the hotelkeeper's got to report regularly... about tenants and registration. There are penalties imposed.

You seem to have lots of vacancies. Well, as I said...

They're every one of them locked up.

Some are showrooms... for feed salesmen, cattle buyers.

The rest, they're spoken for.

Rented to cowboys, ranch hands for when they come into town.

They pay by the month.

We provide for their every wish and comfort.

Do you understand? No, not exactly.

But while I'm pondering it, why don't you get a room ready for me?

That will be a good one.

I'd like to have a bath. Where is it?

At the head of the stairs. Thank you.

I don't know why you're so interested, but the name is Macreedy.

It's all in the ledger. You look like you need a hand.

John J. Macreedy, Los Angeles.

I want to know everything he does, Pete. Phone calls, mail...

In the meantime?

In the meantime, I crowd him a little. See if he's got any iron in his blood.

I guess maybe you're in the wrong room.

Do you think so?

What else you got on your mind?

Why, nothing else, I guess.

If you had half a mind, boy, you would have paid attention to what Pete said.

He said these rooms here is for us cowboys.

For our every wish and comfort.

And this one is yours, I guess? When I'm in town.

And I'm in town, as any fool can see.

You can see that, can't you, boy?

Yes, I guess so.

Would you mind if I sort of got my things together... and found another room?

Not at all.

But if you really wanted this room... we can maybe settle your claim without all this talk.

I believe a man's nothing unless he stands up for what's rightfully his.

What do you think?

I guess so. You guess so.

But you still ain't claiming this room?

No, I guess not.

You're all the time guessing, ain't you, boy?

Don't you know anything?

Well, I know that ever since I got off the train... everybody's been needling me. Why?

I guess I rightfully don't know.

He walks light for a big man, doesn't he?

Who? You know who.

What do you think, Doc?

Why ask me? He's no salesman, that's sure.

Unless he's peddling dynamite.

Maybe he's a cop or something.

You ever see a cop with a stiff arm? Maybe his arm's all right.

Maybe he's hanging on to something tight in his pocket.

Like what? A pistol?

A stick of TNT, so he can blow up the whole mangy, miserable town?

Why are you so interested, Sam?

If I was that interested...

I'd ask him.

Hey, wait a minute.

Got any cigarettes?

How long you staying?

Where? In my new room? I'm staying.

I mean, in the hotel.

Twenty-four hours, why?

Just asking.

Why? Are you gonna have a convention?

I was just asking.

Where can I get a car? I don't know.

Let's put it this way.

Supposing I had a car and I wanted some gas.

Where would I go? But you don't have a car.

You might try that garage down at the end of the street.

Thank you.

Here we go again.

This is all I know about him, Mr. Smith.

Sit down, Coley.

I was only... Sit down.

Real cool guy.

Doesn't push easy, huh?

Well, that's it. That's just it. He pushes too easy.

Maybe we ought... What do you want, Doc?

Nothing. I was just wondering what all you people are worrying about.

Not that I have the slightest idea.

You wonder too much and you talk too much.

It's a bad parlay, Doc.

I hold no truck with silence. I've got nothing to hide.

What are you trying to say? Nothing, man.

You worry about the stranger only if you look at him from a certain aspect.

How do you look at him, Doc?

With the innocence of a fresh-laid egg.

Keep it up, Doc. Make bad jokes. Be funny.

Someday I'll have Coley wash your mouth out with lye.

I called the Circle T.

He ain't got business there if they don't know him. Right, Mr. Smith?

Send a wire to Nick Gandi in Los Angeles.

Tell him to find out everything he can about John J. Macreedy.

What was that? Nick Gandi, Los Angeles.

Tell him I wanna know fast.

Sign my name. Who was that?

Nick Gandi.

G-A-N-D-I. Blake Hotel. You get the rest of it?

Yes, sir. All right. Sign my name.

Who's Gandi?

Private detective. I drive to LA now and then.

This guy Gandi can get us the dope?

He can get us anything we want for $20 a day and expenses.

Don't get too nervous too fast, Hector.

It's just I don't like it. Maybe he's just passing through.

Don't bet on it. He can mean only trouble.

Hector, you're jumpy as a stall horse.

We ought to see him. Talk to him.

About what? What will I talk to him about?

The birds, the bees, the crops, the weather?

You tried it. What'd it get you?

It's just I thought that... You just thought.

Well, what'll we do?

What'll you do? You'll wait, just like Pete here.

That right, Pete? And that's all you'll do.

And while you wait, I'll talk to him. Hey, what do you know?

Mr. Macreedy seems to be heading for the jail.

Now, what do you suppose he'd wanna talk to the sheriff about?

Hold it, friend.

I ain't hankering to get locked in my own jail.

I'm sorry, I thought you were a guest.

As it happens, I'm the host.

Snort? No, thank you.

I don't blame you. It's awful.

What are you looking at?

You tell me. I ain't always this bad.

It's just that last night me and my pal, Doc Velie, did a little celebrating.

What were you celebrating?

Well, you name it.

What do you want?

My name is Macreedy. I came in on the streamliner.

You what?

I say, I came in on the... You ain't from around here.

Are you up Phoenix way?

Tucson? Mesa?

You ain't selling cattle nor seed corn, nothing like that?

No, all I want from you is a little information.

I have to go to a place called Adobe Flat.

This ain't no information bureau.

That's one thing about Black Rock: Everybody is polite.

That makes for very gracious living.

Nobody asked you here. How do you know?

What about Adobe Flat? I'm looking for a man named Komako.

Almost a disaster. Yeah, a fate worse than death.

You move fast for a crip...

For a big man.

How about Komako?

If there are no further questions...


That's the first pleasant word I've heard since I got here.

My name is Smith. I own the Three-Bar Ranch.

I want to apologize for some of the people in town.

They act like they are sitting on a keg.

A keg? Of what?

I don't know:

Diamonds, gunpowder.

It's nothing like that.

We're suspicious of strangers is all.

Hangover from the old days. The Old West.

I thought the tradition of the Old West was hospitality.

I'm trying to be hospitable, Mr. Macreedy.

You going to be around long? Could be.

How'd you like to go hunting tomorrow? I'd be proud to have you as my guest.

Thanks. I'm afraid I can't.

Because of your arm, I suppose.

I knew a man who lost his arm once in a threshing accident.

He used to hunt all the time. He was quite a man. He...

Sorry. If there's anything I can do while you're around...

No, I was just looking for... No, it doesn't matter.

You were looking for what, Mr. Macreedy?

I was looking for a man named Komako.

Komako. Sure, I remember him.

Japanese farmer. Never had a chance.

Got here in '41, just before Pearl Harbor.

Three months later, they shipped him off to a relocation center.


You don't happen to remember which one they sent him to, do you?

Who knows?

Why don't you try writing him?

Glad to help you out.

I'm afraid you'd be wasting your time. I've already written... but they don't forward my letters. They keep sending them back.

They do?

Need any help? I can manage.

Well, I need a little help. I'd like to rent your jeep.

That'll be $2 an hour. Gas extra.

$10 for my time. Why not ask him where he wants to go?

He wants to go to Adobe Flat.

Is the road marked well?

Yeah, it's about six or seven miles down.

Fine, then I won't need your time.

I thought you might need a little help. Oh, no.

I'll get along fine, thank you.

Liz, do you have a license to hire cars? You might get into trouble.

I won't say a word to the sheriff.

You shouldn't have done that.

Thought it would be better if he went and got done with it. What can he find out?

I wouldn't do anything to hurt you, Reno. You know that.

This is liable to be the hardest $10 you ever earned in your life.

What do you want? He asked about Komako.

Do you think he'll kick up a storm? A storm?

What about? I don't know.

All I know is that I don't want no more trouble around here.

Never again, trouble.

You don't know anything about Komako, do you?

I do not. That's the point.

The point is, what you don't know won't hurt you.

Maybe there's something I ought to know.

Maybe there's something I ought to ask you... before the stranger returns and starts breathing down my neck.

Tim, you're just a lost ball in the high weeds.

I told you a long time ago, nothing happened for you to worry about.

The thing is, I do worry.

Maybe I ain't much else, but I'm sure a worrier.

And I'm still the law.

Then do your job, Tim.

What is my job, Mr. Smith?

I'd better find out before Macreedy does it for me.

Macreedy will do nothing.

And neither will you, Tim.

Suppose I decide to try. That might be dangerous.

You got the body of a hippo but the brain of a rabbit. Don't overtax it.

Yes, Mr. Smith.

Tim, buy you a cup of coffee?

From LA? Yeah, from that private detective.

What does he say? Who is this guy, anyway?

Never heard of him, that's what he says.

He checked. There's no John J. Macreedy.

No listing, no record, no information, nothing.

Where does that leave us?

I'll tell you where it leaves us. I'm sick and...

Now, Coley.

I think Macreedy's a nothing. A nobody. Is he?

So there's nothing to worry about. Isn't there?

You got brains, you have.

What can he find out? That Komako...

Suppose he finds out.

A nobody like Macreedy can raise a pretty big stink.

The point is, who'd miss a nobody like Macreedy... if he just, say, disappeared?

Who, Coley?

Why don't we wait? Wait for what?

I mean, maybe he won't find anything. Maybe he'll just go away.

Not Macreedy. I know those maimed guys.

Their minds get twisted.

They put on hair shirts and act like martyrs.

All of them are do-gooders, freaks, troublemakers.

Let's wait and see. There's no danger yet.

"No danger," he says.

This guy is like a carrier of smallpox.

Since he's arrived, this town has a fever. An infection.

And it's spreading.

Hastings in a sick sweat, running around, shooting off his face.

Doc getting snotty with me for the first time in four years.

And Liz, your sister, acts like a fool. She's only a kid.

Kid? She must have strained every muscle in her head... to get so stupid, renting him a jeep.

Tim the rumdum... suddenly decides he's got to act like a sheriff.

And he says there's no danger.

Of course, if you want to take the chance...

Not me. All right, then.

You're mighty quick to kill. He's not an animal.

Well, listen to the little spitfire.

You miserable little toad. I'm saving your neck.

Lf I don't, who will? Tim? Doc? All l...

Your sister with the rocks in her head?

There's one thing about her. She's got twice the guts you have.

You're only fit for running away. And it's too late for that.

He's in this, and he ain't running no place.

All right, then.

Let Smith find himself a new boy. I can't take it another day.

If you're a sheriff, they gotta respect you.

Otherwise you can't do your job. They just laugh.

I don't laugh, Tim.

Why don't you? Cut it out, Tim.

You should.

In the name of well-adjusted manhood, get a hold of yourself.

Snap out of it. You're gonna have a complex or something.

Four years ago, if I'd have done my job... if I'd checked up and found out what happened...

But I didn't. It was just like Smith figured.

What did you find out? They told you a story, you had to believe it.

Would you believe it?

I don't know. I live a quiet, contemplative life.

Me, I didn't even try to find out.

Don't you understand?

When you wear this badge, you're the law.

When someone does something against the law... then you're supposed to do something about it.

Me, I did nothing.

That's what's eating me.

What kind of prescription you got for that?

I don't know.

Haven't found one for myself.

But there's one thing, Tim: Don't quit!

Why not?

Because maybe this fellow Macreedy's got the prescription.

Well, if it's not Macreedy... the world's champion road hog.

Yeah, it's a small world. But such an unfriendly one.

Why'd you wanna crowd me off the road?

I'm sorry if I incurred your displeasure.

Look what you did to my car.

Anything I can do to make it up?

You ought to be more careful, man. All that one-arm driving.

I'll be glad to pay for the damages.

It's a threat to life and limb.

Fortunately, no one was hurt.

You could get yourself killed that way, nosing all over the countryside.

I guess that's a danger, all right.

That's pretty smart of you. How long do you intend to keep it up?

I'm pulling out right now.

Still expecting that convention? What?

If you're expecting any extra cowboys, my room is available.

Are you checking out?

Any trains leaving tonight?

Tomorrow morning. The streamliner. I know about that.

Milk train or freights?

Tomorrow, after the streamliner. Buses?

Closest stop is Sand City, 32 miles away.

You're in such a hurry, you should have never got off here.

I'm inclined to agree with you.

If you're looking for the keys to the jeep, they're not there.

Where would you suggest I look? The jeep's not for rent.

Why, it was just a few hours ago. Things change.

Sure do.

And Smith is the kid who changes them, isn't he?

You mind if I use this?

Yeah, go ahead.

What's wrong with this town of yours, Miss Wirth?

Nothing's wrong with this town, Mr. Macreedy.

It's none of your concern.

Why is everybody so concerned about me then?

Am I concerned? No, you're not, but...

But what?

I have a feeling you're a little bit too unconcerned.

You're so unconcerned, you won't even rent me a jeep.

I don't own a taxi service. I don't have a license.

Too bad everybody in this town... isn't as scrupulously devoted to law and order as you are.

I don't want to get involved.

Involved in what? Whatever you're up to!

Whatever happens, I've got to go on living in this town.

These people are my neighbors, my friends.

All of them?

This is my town, Mr. Macreedy. Like it or not.

Well, if you don't like it, why do you stick around?

My brother, Pete, he'd never leave.

Did it ever occur to you that you might leave without him?

You look like an independent young lady. Your brother seems...

Weak? I know. That's why I couldn't leave him.

What did your brother do?

What do you care? What do you care about Black Rock?

I don't care anything about Black Rock.

Only it seems to me that there aren't many towns like this in America.

But one town like it is enough.

And because I think something kind of bad happened here, Miss Wirth.

Something they can't quite seem to find a handle to.

You don't know what you're saying. Well, I know this much.

The rule of law has left here and the gorillas have taken over.

Yeah, and you just tried to steal the key to my jeep.

I figured that that was the only way I could get it.

Was I wrong, Miss Wirth?

I'd like to ask you a few questions while you're around.

I'm around, all right.

I guess probably you've heard... that Miss Wirth is no longer in the car rental business.

Good. I wouldn't want to see that girl get into trouble.

Wouldn't you? What with rental permits... gas rationing, you know what I mean.

Yeah, I certainly admire your sturdy sense of responsibility.

It's just that, that girl has a future.

Let's talk about my future.

Do you think you have the time? I don't seem to be going anywhere.

I hear you handle a jeep real well.

Yes, I do have a way with jeeps. A certain familiarity.

I think I understand. You're an army man.

Where'd you get it? Italy.

That's tough.

I tried to enlist myself the day after those rats bombed Pearl Harbor.

What stopped you?

Physical. They wouldn't take me.

Morning after Pearl, I was the first man at Marine Recruiting in Sand City.

They wouldn't take me.


What do you do in Los Angeles, Mr. Macreedy?

I'm retired.

You might say I was forced into retirement.

What were you looking for in Adobe Flat?

Like I told you, I was looking for a fellow named Komako.

And like you told me, he wasn't there.

What's so funny? Nothing.

Just I don't believe you.

I believe a man is as big as what he is seeking.

I believe you are a big man, Mr. Macreedy.

Flattery will get you nowhere.

Why would a man like you be looking for a lousy Jap farmer?

You can't tell. Maybe I'm not so big. Yes, you are.

I believe a man is as big as what will make him mad.

Nobody around here seems big enough to get you mad.

What makes you mad, Mr. Smith? Me?

Nothing. You're a pretty big man yourself.

The Japanese make you mad, don't they? Well, that's different.

After that sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. Bataan.

Komako made you mad? It's the same thing.

Loyal Japanese-Americans. That's a laugh.

They're all mad dogs. What about Corregidor, the Death March?

What did Komako have to do with Corregidor?

He was a Jap, wasn't he?

Look, Mr. Macreedy.

There's a law in this county against shooting dogs.

But when I see a mad dog, I don't wait for him to bite me.

I swear, you're beginning to make me mad.

All strangers do.

No, they don't. Not all of them.

Some do when they come around snooping.

Snooping for what? I don't know.

Outsiders coming in looking for something.

Looking for what? I don't know!

Somebody's always looking for something in this part of the West.

To the historian, it's the Old West. To the book writer, it's the Wild West.

To the businessman, it's the Undeveloped West.

They say we're all poor and backward, and I guess we are.

We don't even have enough water.

But to us, this place is our West. And I wish they'd leave us alone.

Leave you alone to do what?

I don't know what you mean.

What happened to Komako?

He went away. I told you.

Shortly after he left, some kids went out there. They got fooling around.

They burned his place down. That's how it was. You know how kids are.

What's so funny? Nothing.

It's just that I don't believe you... any more than I believed you about the letters.

You don't seem to believe anything I say.

Yes, I believe you about what you say about the businessmen... being interested in Adobe Flat.


Well, I would think they would be interested... maybe some historian, in all that land lying fallow.

You know, it could be used for some purpose, maybe a graveyard.

There's something buried up there.

You have wildflowers.

That means a grave. I suppose you knew that.

I saw a lot of it overseas.

Figured it wasn't a human grave because it wasn't marked.

Kind of a mystery, isn't it?

Kind of.

Maybe you can figure it out.

Maybe. Why don't you give it a whirl?

It might help you pass the time for a while.

Well, I've got other things to do. I'm not interested.

Hi. Hello.

Pull up a chair. Can I use your phone?

Yeah, help yourself.

You're one of the few people who's been back here I can say that to.

It's 424.

What's 424?

If I've got you pegged, and I think I have, you're calling the State Police.

But if I was you, and I'm surely glad I'm not...

I'd look it up myself. I wouldn't trust anybody around here.

Including me.

424, please.

424? The lines are all busy.

Don't tell me, I know. The lines are all busy. Be busy all day.

You mind not looking at me like that? Like what?

Like a potential customer.

Everybody is. And I get them coming and going.

First, I sell them a piece of land.

Do you think they farm it?

They do not. They dig for gold.

They rip off the topsoil of 10 winding hills... then sprint in here all fog-heaved with excitement, lugging nuggets... big, bright, and shiny.

Is it gold? It is not.

Do they quit? They do not.

Then they decide to farm.

Farm in a country so dry that you have to prime a man before he can spit.

Before you can say "Fat Sam," they're stalled, stranded, and starving.

They become weevil-brained and butt-sprung.

So I bury them.

But why bore you with my triumphs?

I got a problem of my own. You sure have.

They're gonna kill you with no hard feelings.

And you're gonna sit there and let them do it.

Don't get waspish with me, mister. I'm sorry.

I feel for you. But I'm consumed with apathy.

Why should I mix in? I don't know. Maybe to save a life.

I've got enough trouble saving my own. Look.

I try to live right. I drink my milk every day.

But mostly I try to mind my own business... which is something I advise you to do.

It's a little late for that.

No, you can still get out of town. But you'd better get out like a whisper.


I've got sort of a limousine at your disposal.

Where is it?

Must be something wrong.

Could be the wiring.

Yeah, it's the wiring. Now, wasn't that a good guess?

Maybe it can be fixed.

Easy. Except maybe if this wire was busted or something.

Do the nice little things, like keep your big, fat nose out of my business.

Yeah, it was the wiring.

I'm sorry.

But you gotta admit, I tried. And for that, I thank you.

How much time do you think I've got before they...

You've got at least till dark.

They'd be afraid to see each other's faces.

Well, thanks, Doc.

I can't say that it's been charming... Where are you going?

I don't know, but I'm going on foot.

That's no good. You stray 10 yards off the main street... and you'll be stone-cold dead.

That's the situation in a nut.


Maybe what?

I'll see you later, Doc.


No, thank you. It's hot as Billy-be-durned.

Don't you like lemonade? Never thought much about it.

You notifying the State Police?

That's what it says.

You sure you don't want some lemonade?

It don't have the muzzle velocity of other drinks here... but it's good for what ails you.

What ails you, Mr. Hastings? Me?

Why are you so upset about this wire?

Me? Are you afraid, Mr. Hastings?

Mr. Macreedy, I'm just a good neighbor.

To Smith, you are. What about to Komako?

I've never seen Komako in my life. Honest.

All right.

Then you'll send that message and give me the answer, won't you?

Yes, sir.

What'll you have? What've you got?

Chili and beans.

Anything else? Chili without beans.

If you don't like the flavor, there's ketchup.

All right, I'll have it. A cup of coffee.

Well, you still around? I thought you didn't like this place.

You mean going to or coming from? Staying put.

No comment. "No comment," he says.

No comment, and all the time he's got my stool.

This stool ain't comfortable.

I was afraid of that.

I think I'd like the one you're on.

He's as changeable as a prairie fire.

Suppose you tell me where to sit.

I hope that ain't too much.

Your friend's a very argumentative fellow.

Sort of unpredictable, too. Got a temper like a rattlesnake.

That's me all over. I'm half-horse, half-alligator.

You mess with me and I'll kick a lung out of you.

What do you think of that?

No comment.

Talking to you is like pulling teeth. You wear me out.

You're a yellow-bellied Jap lover! Am I right or wrong?

You're not only wrong, you're wrong at the top of your voice.

You don't like my voice?

I think your friend is trying to start trouble.

Why ever would he want to do that?

I don't know. Maybe he thinks... that if he needles me enough, I might crack. I might even fight back.

Then either he or your other ape sitting over there could beat me to death... and cop a plea of self-defense.

I don't think that'll be necessary.

You're so scared now, you'll probably drown in your own sweat.

Before that happens... couldn't I pick a fight with you if I tied one hand behind me?

If I tied both hands?

Wouldn't it have been easier to wait until I turned my back... or are there too many witnesses present?

You're still in trouble.

You're in trouble. Whatever happens, you're sunk.

You got things a bit twisted.

You killed Komako, Smith. Sooner or later, you're gonna go up for it.

Not because you killed him... because in a town like this you can get away with it.

But because you didn't have the guts to do it alone... you put your trust in guys like this and Hector here.

Not the most dependable of God's creatures.

One of these days, they're gonna catch on you're playing them for a sap. Then what?

Peel them off one by one?

Meantime, one of them is gonna crack... and when they do, you're gonna go down. But hard.

Because they got something on you, Smith.

Something to use when the going gets tough.

And it's getting tougher every minute.

Man, oh, man.

Anything come for me? Nothing.

Telegram or nothing? Nothing.

In case you're interested, Coley will live, I'm truly sorry to say.

Your friend's pretty tough.

Yeah, he's wicked. He defends himself when he's attacked.

You gonna sit there and let time run out?

Waiting for an answer from the state cops.

You send it through Hastings?

Just don't expect an answer, if that's the way you sent it.

I guess that's probably for me.

Where's my answer?

Do you expect an answer from a wire that was never sent?

What's so funny?

I just had a thought. A thought that is dazzling in its purity.

You're in a lot of trouble.

You gave my message to Smith, didn't you?

Why, you little wart! That's a federal offense.

You're in this deep, too.

Like I say, it's getting tougher and tougher.

Maybe you'd better do something about this, Sheriff.

I reckon that's right, Mr. Smith. You're not supposed to...

Don't be a jerk, Tim.

Divulging information? There's a law that says you...

Tim, you're pathetic.

Maybe so, but I'm still sheriff.

That's the point. You're not sheriff anymore.

You're so pathetic, you just lost a job.

Okay, Sheriff... take over.

You can't do that! I can't?

I put him in the job, and now I'm taking him out.

Now, do you wanna register a complaint, boy?

To register a complaint, you've got to have evidence, boy.

You got evidence?

You got a big mouth, boy.

Making accusations and disturbing the peace.

We got a law in this county protecting innocent folks from bigmouths like you.

I'd hate to... Hector.

Never mind, Tim. We're not licked yet.

Ain't we? I am.

There comes a time, Tim... when a man has just got to do something.

Not me. I'm useless and I know it.

No man is useless so long as he's got a friend.

I'm your friend, Tim.

Then why don't you let me alone?

Because he's going to need you before the night's over.

And all the useful men are on the other side.

Let me alone, I tell you!

I can't let you alone!

I can't let myself alone. Don't you understand that?

Four years ago, something terrible happened here.

We did nothing about it. Nothing!

The whole town fell into a sort of settled melancholy... and all the people in it closed their eyes and held their tongues... and failed the test with a whimper.

Now something terrible is going to happen again.

And in a way, we're lucky, 'cause we've been given a second chance.

I've got such a headache, I'm bewildered. I hurt all over.

Yeah, pain is bewildering. I know.

I was bewildered when I came here.

Full of self-pity. But your friend Smith tried to kill me.

It's strange how a man will cling to the earth... when he feels he isn't going to see it again.

There's lot of difference between clinging to it and crawling on the earth.

Are you going to stand by and watch forever?

I ain't gonna watch.

And I ain't gonna get into anything.

I'm getting out.

I'm sorry, Mr. Macreedy.

You'd be smart to get out, too, Doc.

There's too many smart guys around here. I'm glad I'm a dummy.

You're a troublesome dummy. You're liable to end up on your own slab.

I expect to be in a lot more trouble before I die...

Go home, Doc. He's all washed-up.

You think so?

I was washed-up when I got off that train.

You shouldn't have got off. I had to.

I had one last duty to perform before I resigned from the human race.

I thought you were going to Los Angeles. That hotbed of pomp and vanity.

Is that what you call resigning from the human race?

Good jumping-off place for South America, the islands.


I don't know. I guess I was just looking for some place to get lost.

Why do you want to get lost?

Because I was afraid I couldn't function any longer.

Luckily, your friend Smith changed my mind.

Sure, you're a man of action. I know what your trouble is, sonny.

You'd like me to die quickly, wouldn't you? Without wasting too much of your time.

Or quietly, so I won't embarrass you too much.

Or even thankfully... so your memory of the occasion won't be too unpleasant.

My memories are so pleasant, as it is.

It's gonna take an awful lot of whiskey to wash out your guts.

Go on, swill it!

What is there left for you to do?

You're as dead as Komako, and you don't know it.

Take it easy. Sit down.

Sit down? Why don't you tell me to kneel down... and beg his pardon for bringing up an unpleasant subject?

You don't have to remind me. I've never forgotten.

Isn't that noble of you?

You haven't forgotten and you're ashamed. That's really noble of you.

I suppose four years from now, you'll be sitting here... telling people you haven't forgotten me, either.

That's real progress.

In the meantime, I'll be as dead as a...

Why don't you tell me what happened?

What happened?

Why did you come here, Mr. Macreedy?

Did Komako have any other family besides his son, Joe?

Son? Nobody around here ever knew he had a son.

Yes, he had a son. He's dead, too. He's buried in Italy.

I asked you before: Why did you come here?

Why, this Komako boy died trying to save my life.

They gave him a medal.

I came here to give it to his old man.

I figured the least I could do was give him one day out of my life.

Well, are you gonna tell him or have I got to?

I'll tell him.

Smith owned Adobe Flat. He leased it to Komako.

He figured he cheated him because you gotta have water to raise anything.

There never was any water on Adobe Flat.

Komako dug a well. He must have gone down 60 feet.

He got plenty of water. That made Smith pretty sore.

He didn't like Japs anyway.

The day after Pearl Harbor, Smith went to Sand City.

Yeah, he got turned down. Tried to enlist.

When he got back, he was pretty sore.

Around 10:00, we all started drinking.

10:00 in the morning?

Smith, Coley, Sam, Hector, and me.

We were all drunk.

Patriotic drunk.

We wanted to go out to scare the Jap a little and have a little fun.

When we got there, he heard us coming and locked the door.

Then Smith started a fire... and the Jap came running out. His clothes were all burning.

And then Smith shot him.

I didn't even know he had a gun.

Then you got scared and buried him, and kept your mouth shut?


Well, go ahead and have your drink. You're going to need it.

Hello, Liz. Pete.

Listen, I'm getting Macreedy out of town.

I would call the police, but all the outside lines are cut.

Let him try. I might as well be dead.

Yeah, I told him everything.

Never mind about that. I'm asking you because I need your help.

You'd be saving two lives, Liz:

Macreedy's and mine, if that means anything to you.

All right.

Now, here's what I want you to do.

Wait till it's dark.

I've been looking for you. Come here.

What do you want?

Macreedy. He went up to bed.

So, you want me to tuck him in?

No, but I thought maybe you ought to tell Smith.

Smith don't want to be disturbed. He'll be here at midnight, he said.

Why are you so nervous?

What do you mean? I'm not nervous.

You got a match?

No, I got some in the lobby.

What did you do to get Pete to change his mind? Beat him up?

No, no muscle.

Not with brains, either. He's a pushover for a muscleman.

I'm beginning to think it runs in the family.

I'd sure like to have seen you tangle with Reno Smith.

He didn't happen to be there when I left.

Maybe I will yet.

What's this? Need water.


Liz, you fool. If he gets me, he's gotta get you.

I'm here, honey. Head for the car.

So long, Macreedy.

A few more steps, honey.

Get him. Get him now.

First things first, honey.

Help me up, Smitty.

You were gonna help me, Liz.

I still need your help.

I did everything you said.

You two started out in the car.

And that's the way you're gonna end up. Over a cliff, burning.

You can blame Macreedy for that. He said I had too many witnesses.

Why me? Why start with me?

I gotta start with somebody.

Save me!

Am I going to have trouble with you?

No. But I sure thought the situation was gonna be reversed.

I thought that I was gonna have trouble with him.

I'll take care of him.

The gang's all here, all right.

Thought I'd take one last whack at my job.

Your sister's out in the car, Pete.

She's dead.

Do you want me to tell you who killed her?

I know who killed her.

About that medal? Can we have it?

"Can we have it?" Who's "we"? We. Us.


Maybe we need it.

Maybe give us something to build on.

This town's wrecked, just as though it was bombed out.

Maybe it can come back.

Some towns do, and some towns don't. Depends on the people.

That medal would help.

Thanks, Mr. Macreedy. Thanks for everything.

What's all the excitement? What happened?

A shooting. Thought it was something.

First time the streamliner's stopped here in four years.

Second time.