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Hal Ditmar is a clean-cut kid, the son of a wealthy movie producer. When an argument at a theatre turns into a fight between Hal and the theatre manager, Hal finds no one, not even his father, will believe his actions were justified as self-defense. The police are concerned that Hal is a juvenile delinquent in the making, but the real problem lies in Hal's father's inattention to his son. It's up to Hal's mother to try to bridge the gulf between father and son. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I first saw this movie in the early 70s and have loved it since. I have also met the late actor, James MacArthur, a few years back in Burbank, CA, and talked with him about this film, Frankenheimer's first, that which by the way, is not "cliché ridden" as the other and only other person to review this film has suggested.
MacArthur's performance is remarkable, as is the performances by Kim Hunter, who doesn't "look bored with the plot," alluding to the terrible review of this film above, and James Daly and James Gregory, too, veteran actors like Hunter, share in this rich drama of youth angst and a neglective father.
Whit Bissell, who portrays the theatre manager (I used to work at the Bruin Theatre in Westwood, used in the movie), and Bissell plays the role with great accuracy: I have certainly known theatre managers like this character, and many a pleasant ones. Bissell was a gem of a character actor.
Leonard Rosenmann, who scored the film, also did "Rebel Without a Cause," which this film is unfairly and often compared to. This film is far closer to the truth of what it was like growing up in Los Angeles at the time, I know, I was there and its treatment of themes peculiar to youth experience and behind the scenes parental conflicts, especially among the wealthy families that I knew, are also accurate. This film portrays the lives of real people who lived then, and what we were like then with great attention to detail.
The ending of the film, too, offers the kind of needed optimism that "Rebel Without A Cause" did not offer. I love "Rebel" but it is often very overstated while this film is understated.
Please do not think there is anything cliché-ish about this film.
James MacArthur said to us that this film was his favorite film that he did. It was too bad that Disney got its hands on him, though a couple of those films were excellent as was "Spencer's Mountain," with Henry Fonda. The Young Stranger is a quiet masterpiece.
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