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Jean Carter, nine-year-old daughter of the town's newly-appointed school principal, Peter Carter and his wife Sally, is playing in the woods with her 11-year-old friend Lucille, when Jean discovers she has lost her purse containing her "candy" money. Lucille tells her she knows where they can get sweets for nothing, and leads her to an imposing mansion, from which the owner, Clarence Olderberry, Sr., a tall, gaunt man of 70 has been watching the girls from a window. That night Jean, unable to sleep, tells her parents that Oldeberry made her and Lucille dance before him nude in exchange for some candy. Carter files a complaint, but the local police chief, Captain Hammond, is skeptical of Jean's story and warns Carter that the Oldenberry family put the town on the map and have far more standing in the community than the new-comer Carters. Oldenberry, Jr. also tells Carter that if he follows up on the complaint he may be certain that Oldenberry's lawyers will show Jean no mercy. In the ... Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
I don't know who's more dangerous, you or your father?
Never Take Sweets from a Stranger is directed by Cyril Frankel and written by John Hunter who adapts from the play Pony Cart written by Roger Garis. It stars Patrick Allen, Gwen Watford, Janina Faye, Felix Aylmer, Michael Gwynn, Alison Leggatt and Niall MacGinnis. Music is by Elisabeth Lutyns and John Hollingsworth and Megascope cinematography by Freddie Francis.
British family the Carter's have emigrated to small town Canada and are rocked when it is revealed that 9 year old Jean (Faye), and her friend Lucille (Frances Green), were asked to dance naked for candy at the home of elderly Clarence Olderberry Senior. Filing an official complaint, parents Peter (Allen) & Sally (Watford) are astounded to find the town's denizens are reluctant to believe the Carter's take on things. It becomes apparent that the Olderberry family were instrumental in the building of the town and the family has much power within it. With the town closing ranks on the British outsiders, there's a real chance that a suspected paedophile will go unpunished and maybe strike again?
Thought provoking and intelligent handling of sensitive material, Hammer's Never Take Sweets from a Stranger has finally garnered the credit it deserves. Back on release the taboo subject of the plot ensured the film was mostly shunned, with bad marketing also proving to be a hindrance. However, it is ahead of its time in many ways, Frankel's (School for Scoundrels) picture manages to gnaw away at the senses with its calm and measured approach work. Francis' (The Innocents) black and white photography a clinical ally to the realism wrung out by Frankel.
The alienation of the Carter family is steadily built up, the small town mentality to strangers in their little world unspools calmly by way of credible acting and believable passages of dialogue. By the time the last third arrives, the frustration of the Carter's is shared by the viewers, things get legal and gripping, and then it's the uncoiling of the spring to unleash the denouement. Point made, a message movie of some standing, monsters in our midst indeed. Not merely the predators preying on our children, but also the guilty around them, ignorance most definitely isn't bliss. 8.5/10
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