In turn of the century Bridgewood, a mysterious stranger from Chicago requests, by letter to the local contractor, that a four bedroom house be built in town. The stranger moves into the house by himself without saying a word to any of the townsfolk. He lives there seemingly alone, but orders through the local store clothing, including that for a woman and two children. But no one knows what is happening in the house as the stranger never says anything to anyone, and no one else ever goes in or out of the house. The entire town eventually learns why the man moved to Bridgewood and why he doesn't speak. But it's the secret kept behind the locked doors of his house that tells the full heartbreaking story. Written by
This was a pretty interesting short from John Nesbitt's Passing Parade series. The series was supposed to be from true stories inspired by clippings John Nesbitt found in his late father's trunk, but in this case, there is a disclaimer at the beginning of the short saying that Nesbitt's stories are not actually true descriptions of real events or people. Did he get in some kind of trouble over a previous short that was disproved? I'll get back to my theories on that later.
The director is Jacques Tourneur, now famous for the Val Lewton horror films he directed over at RKO, but here he is billed as "Jack" not "Jacques". In old Hollywood people would often hide their foreign roots via their names, and I guess this is an example.
The story is a bit macabre though and right up Tourneur's alley. In the 1890's a man writes to a small town and asks that a four bedroom house be built, and remits the detailed specifications and the funds. After the house is complete he moves into it alone. He never talks to anyone nor does he let anyone inside. He also orders clothes for a woman, a female child, and a male child, yet there is nobody living in his house but himself. Naturally the townspeople are very suspicious of this fellow. One night, passers by see the doctor's carriage pull up to the man's house. Later, the horse pulling the doctor's carriage goes back to the doctor's house by habit - without the doctor. The townspeople storm the house just sure that the odd stranger has murdered the doctor. What do they find inside? Watch and find out.
Back to why there was a disclaimer on the short - my own suppositions. The short Nesbitt made before this was about a British woman whom Nesbitt actually called by name - Catherine Starr. When her fiancée is killed in battle in 1901 she develops a fear of people as a result of the shock that causes her to not leave her house for almost 40 years. She only does so when Germany's bombs force her out. I wondered how the British - at the time our allies and in the fight of their lives - would feel about one of their own being portrayed as a lifelong coward only set in motion by extreme events, and perhaps they didn't like it so much and complained to MGM. If the story turned out to be fabricated, it might well have caused such disclaimers on future shorts that weren't about actual historical figures. I can't find anything on any scandal involving the truthfulness of John Nesbitt, so I guess the sudden disclaimer will remain a mystery.
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