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Not to be confused with Tik Tik Tik.
Tick Tick Tick 1970.jpg
1970 movie poster
Directed by Ralph Nelson
Produced by James Lee Barrett
Ralph Nelson
Written by James Lee Barrett
Starring Jim Brown
George Kennedy
Fredric March
Music by Jerry Styner
Cinematography Loyal Griggs
Edited by Alex Beaton
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • January 9, 1970 (1970-01-09)
Running time
100 min.
Country United States
Language English
Box office $2,144,000 (US/ Canada rentals)[1]

...tick...tick...tick... is an American crime drama movie made in 1970 directed by Ralph Nelson. Racially provocative for its time, it stars Jim Brown in the role of an African-American man elected as the sheriff of a rural county in the American South. It has become something of a cult classic for its cutting-edge portrayal of racial relations and its tense narrative.


In a small Mississippi town, deputy Jim Price is elected sheriff over John Little, the incumbent. Racial tensions exist in the community and Price gets little assistance from Little, leaving office, or from Mayor Parks, who insists he be consulted on any decision the new sheriff makes.

A white man, John Braddock, is arrested on a manslaughter charge after his drunken driving causes the death of a young girl. Braddock's father carries considerable influence and demands his son be freed. Price's deputy, Bradford Wilkes, is beaten by Little's former deputy, Bengy Springer.

Another arrest is made, this time of a black man, George Harley, accused of rape. The townspeople's mood turns uglier by the minute, particularly when Braddock's father threatens to spring his son by force if necessary.

Little's conscience gets the better of him. He agrees to become Price's new deputy. Together they try in vain to persuade other men in town to side with them against Braddock's vigilantes and to convince the Mayor to call in the National Guard for help. Alone against the mob, Price and LIttle form a barricade and prepare for the worst when their fellow townsmen suddenly join them in the street.


A radio ad for the film summarized the story simply: "tick...tick...tick is the sound of time...running out."


The movie was also released the same year as Nelson's Soldier Blue.

The movie can be viewed as something of a counter-narrative to In the Heat of the Night, which featured Poitier as a Philadelphia detective sent to help investigate a murder in a small town in Mississippi and aided, at first reluctantly, by the white chief of police played by Rod Steiger. Poitier's character comes to earn the respect of Steiger's, but he remains an outsider, able to navigate the complexities of being black in a small southern town because of the unfamiliarity of his style. In contrast, ...tick...tick...tick... places a local African-American fully in charge of the police, aided somewhat by the former white sheriff.

The lead was played by Jim Brown, who had only recently retired as a professional football player.

The movie has a somewhat low-budget feeling, and the use of Brown in the lead role has led its being often mentioned in the context of the blaxploitation genre.[citation needed]

The movie was filmed in and around the town of Colusa, California, whose central courthouse square was modeled on similar squares found in the American South. The same courthouse was also used for exterior shots in the 1962 classic To Kill a Mockingbird.

...tick...tick...tick... was the penultimate film appearance of screen legend Fredric March.


Jim Brown & Janet MacLachlan in ...tick...tick...tick... - publicity still, 1970


The film was released theatrically in the United States by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in January 1970.[4]

The film was never given an official VHS release in the United States. It was released on DVD in 2012 via the Warner Archive on demand service. This release is anamorphic in 2:40:1 aspect ratio.[5]


  1. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1970", Variety, 6 January 1971 p 11
  2. ^ "Janet MacLachlan". IMDb. 
  3. ^ "Richard Elkins". IMDb. 
  4. ^ "Company Credits for ...tick... tick... tick...". imdb.com. Retrieved 2012-04-26. 
  5. ^ "Tick...Tick...Tick... (1970)". wbshop.com. Retrieved 2012-04-26. 

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