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The Fool Killer (1965)

 |  Drama  |  28 April 1965 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 172 users  
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12-year-old George Mellish, tired of beatings for both real and fancied misdeeds at the hands of his foster parents,runs away from home by hopping a freight train and lands somewhere east ... See full summary »



(novel), (screenplay) (as Morton Fine) , 1 more credit »
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Credited cast:
Milo Bogardus
Mr. Dodd
Dirty Jim Jelliman
Mrs. Dodd
Yvonne Gilbert ...
Charlotte Jones ...
Mrs. Ova Fanshawe
Arnold Moss ...
Reverend Spotts
Sindee Ann Richards ...
Blessing Angeline Fanshawe
George Mellish
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Curtis Haymore ...
Various (voice)


12-year-old George Mellish, tired of beatings for both real and fancied misdeeds at the hands of his foster parents,runs away from home by hopping a freight train and lands somewhere east of the Mississippi River. The first person he meets is Dirty Jim Helliman who lives in a fantastically filthy hovel and with whom George feels a kindred spirit, both having "suffered" at the hands of a clean woman. It is (really dirty) Dirty Jim that tells George of the mythical, eight-foot bogey man called "The Fool Killer." George gets sick and Dirty Jim takes him to town where Mrs.Ova Faversham takes charge of the feverish boy. When Blessing Angeline, Mrs. Faversham's 10-year-old daughter, tells George that her mother intends to return him to his foster parents, George hits the road again. He meets Milo Bogardus, a young Civil War veteran, who has been robbed of his memory by a war wound, and is as lost in his own way as George. THey come upon a camp meeting, where the fanatical Reverend Spotts is... Written by Les Adams <>

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Release Date:

28 April 1965 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Violent Journey  »

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Did You Know?


Originally announced in 1956 as a vehicle for Glenn Ford. See more »


Version of Kraft Theatre: The Fool Killer (1956) See more »


Glory To The Lamb
Written by David Mook, Arnold Goland, Jimmy Radcliffe
(Plays during tent revival scene)
See more »

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User Reviews

beautiful and haunting images
9 March 2007 | by (Italy) – See all my reviews

As a child, this film had an enormous impact on me. It's a wonderful piece of Americana, a folks tale enriched by beautiful and haunting images thanks to the great B&W photography, and though it is not on the same level as Night of the Hunter, it still has an interesting way of dealing with psychological archetypes. I would go as far as saying that in the portrayal of the way reality is transfigured by a child's imagination, this film is just as good - if not better - than this year's Pan's Labyrinth.

And then there is the immense Anthony Perkins. How sad and annoying that people to this day still use his Norman Bates as a milestone against which they measure the rest of his haunting work. They seem to forget that he had played some seriously tormented characters long before that one and just as well: Josh Birdwell in "Friendly Persuasion", Jim Piersall in "Fear Strikes Out" etc... His unique talents have often been wasted, but here he shines. I never saw any resemblance in his way of playing Milo to that other more celebrated character. Rather, it's a variation on his work in Friendly Persuasion, as if his Josh had gone terribly wrong - a portrait of broken youth, broken dreams, broken beauty. The scene by the river still haunts me to this day. As a child I envied Edward Albert Jr and thought he was very lucky, I wished I had an older brother like him.

I have seen it again when I was finally able to get my hands on a VHS copy. I had to concede that the screenwriters should have worked a lot harder, but I still found it haunting and beautiful, just like its unique star.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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