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Harry H. Corbett,
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Don't Talk to Strange Men is just what a thriller should be; simple and effective. The film is very short, running at only just over an hour; but this time is put to very good use as director Pat Jackson wastes no time in getting straight to the point. The film would appear to be a cautionary tale for kids and the subject at hand is the idea of a minor being 'groomed' by an adult who plans to take advantage of them. However, the director doesn't preach anything to the audience; instead the story is just allowed to play out. We focus on a small town that has been upset by the murders of some young kids. Jean Painter is the naive daughter of an overprotective father. She works at a local bar and catches the bus home. One day while waiting for the bus, she hears the phone in the booth near the bus stop ringing; and innocently answers the phone. She begins a dialogue with the stranger on the other end, and becomes obsessed with his voice. Eventually, the stranger suggests they meet...and it becomes clear he has sinister motives.
A major reason why this film works so well is down to the fact that all the major characters are easy to get along with. Christina Gregg's character does require the audience to suspend their disbelief somewhat as she is so easily infatuated with the stranger on the phone; but she plays the role well and is easy to root for. Gwen Cherrell's script is serviceable; but at times the dialogue can be a little strange, and it feels unnatural. The story itself also seems a bit hard to believe at first glance; but inadvertently falling for a voice on the phone is no more unbelievable than falling for someone in an internet chat room; and that is a story we hear often today, meaning the film still has meaning almost fifty years since it was made. The film flows well throughout and is always interesting; but the final third is the best of all. The director really cranks up the tension until it becomes nail-biting, and the final conclusion is well worth the effort invested in the film. The actual ending itself is a bit abrupt and too light-hearted for my liking...but this is still an excellent thriller that more than makes up for any flaws. Highly recommended viewing...if you can find a copy.
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