Rachel and the Stranger (1948)

Approved  |   |  Adventure, Western  |  1948 (UK)
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David Harvey is a widower with a young son, Davey. They live on an isolated Ohio farm during the pioneer days. He wants his son to be raised in the manner his wife would have wanted - with ... See full summary »



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Complete credited cast:
Big Davey
Tom Tully ...
Parson Jackson
Sara Haden ...
Mrs. Jackson
Mr. Green
Walter Baldwin ...
Regina Wallace ...
Mrs. Green


David Harvey is a widower with a young son, Davey. They live on an isolated Ohio farm during the pioneer days. He wants his son to be raised in the manner his wife would have wanted - with proper schooling, Bible study and proper manners. Rachel, an indentured servant, is sold to David. David then marries her in order that little Davey would have a mother to properly raise him. David shows no real affection towards Rachel since this is a marriage of convenience. This all changes when Jim, a friend of the family comes for a visit. During his stay, David sees that there is more to Rachel than just being a "bonds woman", especially when Jim takes a liking to her. This awaken new feelings in David for Rachel. Written by Kelly

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


REBEL BRIDE of a man she never kissed! Pledged to share his home...but not privileged to claim his love! Until one day...one fateful day...along came a Tall, Dark Stranger! See more »


Adventure | Western


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

1948 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

The Tall Dark Stranger  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This was one of RKO's biggest hits of 1948, earning $395,000.00 See more »


Featured in 100 Years of the Hollywood Western (1994) See more »


Foolish Pride
Music by Roy Webb
Lyrics by Waldo Salt
Performed by Robert Mitchum (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

Highly Recommended
17 April 2006 | by (Kentucky) – See all my reviews

At its most basic, "Rachel and the Stranger" is a domestic comedy set in the wilderness of 18th century Ohio. Director Norman Foster manages to pack more charm into each five minutes than most films have during their entire running length.

At its most ambitious, "Rachel and the Stranger" is an allegorical story about the impact of a catalyst into a seemingly stable dynamic. In this case the stranger in the title, Jim (Robert Mitchum), visits the isolated farm of long-time friend David Harvey (William Holden), his young son Davey (Gary Gray), and their bond servant Rachel (Loretta Young). David bought Rachel (who is working off her late father's debts) after his wife died, needing a replacement to help raise Davey. He married her out of respect for social convention but has no intention of consummating the marriage.

While David treats Rachel with respect and consideration, his son is openly resentful of the substitute mother. After some initial progress the threesome settles into a distanced existence, a rut from which there is little chance they will be able to escape on their own. But things quickly change when Jim stops by on his way to town. For the first time Rachel has someone who actively engages her. Jim's attentions build up Rachel's status in Davey's eyes while causing David to see her obvious attractions for the first time. But Foster doesn't limit things to this predictable interplay; he builds on it by having Rachel quickly come out of her guarded shell in response to Jim's interest. Even the makeup people get into the act as Young goes from the look of a plain pioneer woman to a subtle radiance.

All four stars are excellent. It was probably Holden's best performance as he provides most of the humor with his growing attraction to Rachel and his increasing irritation with the attention Jim is paying to her.

Young was about 10 years too old for her 25 year-old character but this is not really a factor as the age of the character is unimportant; you wonder why they did not simply change the one reference to her age after casting Young for the part. Young's acting tends to be underrated because of her later work as a television hostess but even her film work as a teenager was extraordinary. She was an especially good casting choice because the repressed Rachel needs to subtly convey a depth and dimensionality early in the film to make her later transformation plausible.

Mitchum gives perhaps his liveliest performance as he seems to be having a lot of fun with his part. Gray is solid as always, one of those rare child actors who were not irritating after a few minutes on the screen.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.

23 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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