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21 user 14 critic

Walk Softly, Stranger (1950)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 12 October 1950 (USA)
An ex-hood hopes to start a new life under an assumed name in a small town but his past catches up with him when an old crime-buddy asks him to help with a casino heist.

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(screen play), (based on a story by) (as Manny Seff) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Elaine Corelli (as Valli)
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Mrs. Brentman
...
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Ray Healy
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Gwen
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Morgan
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...
A.J. Corelli
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Miss Thompson
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Mabel
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Skating Boy
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Storyline

A charming, smooth-talking gambler calling himself Chris Hale arrives in Ashton, home of the Corelli shoe factory. Claiming to have lived there as a boy, he soon ingratiates himself with the townspeople... including attractive heiress Elaine Corelli, wheelchair-bound since a recent accident. Chris, hoping to leave crime behind, seems to have excellent prospects; but of course, his past catches up with him... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

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The stars of "The 3rd Man" in a NEW exciting adventure! See more »


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Approved | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

12 October 1950 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Weep No More  »

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Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Completed in 1948, copyrighted in 1949, but not released until 1950. See more »

Quotes

Bowen: Why don't you sit down?
Chris Hale: I wouldn't sit on your death bed.
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Connections

Referenced in American Masters: Jack Paar: 'As I Was Saying...' (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Running from and hiding in your past is always double trouble…
21 January 2008 | by See all my reviews

This forgotten gem was of interest for a number of reasons.

First, it's directed by Robert Stevenson, the man responsible for a superb thriller, To the Ends of the Earth (1948) with Dick Powell in the lead. Steveson, however, has a long list of fine films to his credit, beginning (for me) with Tom Brown's Schooldays (1940), all the way to The Love Bug (1968) and Herbie Rides Again (1974) – if you like fantasy comedy...

But second, this film echoes the matching of Cotton and Valli in The Third Man (1949), arguably one of the best film-noir made (directed by Carol Reed, of course). Reading the additional information about this film, however, I learnt that it was actually made before The Third Man but keep on ice for two years.

In this narrative, however, Cotton as Chris Hale breaks the mold of the bashful, loyal and trustworthy good guy he was known for in so many previous movies. That is, while this is certainly another of the film-noir genre, it doesn't have a femme fatale: Chris Hale is the homme fatale – the man with the fatal flaw in his past, and the one that catches up with him.

In contrast, Valli as Elaine Corelli is the broken rose: a woman of substance and great beauty but, because of a tragic accident, unwilling to expose herself to potential failure again, especially in matters of the heart. When Hale turns up, however, she is drawn to him, despite her misgivings at first.

Arguably, she should have listened to her head because Hale has a hidden agenda – in fact, that's why he's in Elaine's town where her father practically owns it: Hale wants to stay hiding in plain sight, as a model citizen, because he thinks the guys he robbed a while back – gangsters who ran a casino in another state - will never find him... More fool he, because his ex-buddy turns up to ask for a handout – and so, Hale's cover is blown and it's only a matter of time before the killers follow.

What follows then are Hale's attempts to get clear of the bad guys and redeem himself with Elaine; so, I'll leave you to enjoy that denouement. When you do, watch for the great sight gag that includes the words: "Next time, go by air", a moment of levity that foreshadows an ending that is, if not entirely happy, at least shows promise of hope.

Cotton does an excellent job as a calculating, unflappable and competent con man who gradually sees the need, within himself, to change his ways; Valli once again exudes troubled emotions and repressed sexuality with great finesse; that great character actor, Paul Stewart shines as the craven Whitey Lake, Hale's buddy; and John McIntire appears, for once, as not a cop – as In Psycho (1960) - but as an office manager, Morgan. And, let's not forget Spring Byington who plays...well, Mrs Brentman/Spring Byington, the landlady.

Recommended for all, especially for film-noir fans.


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