7.3/10
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43 user 7 critic

Phone Call from a Stranger (1952)

While waiting on a delayed flight, David Trask, who has left his unfaithful wife, meets three of his fellow passengers. When the aircraft crashes, he is one of few survivors, and sets out to resolve their unfinished business.

Director:

Jean Negulesco

Writers:

Nunnally Johnson (screenplay), I.A.R. Wylie (story)
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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Shelley Winters ... Binky Gay aka Mrs. Michael Carr
Gary Merrill ... David L. Trask
Michael Rennie ... Dr. Robert Fortness
Keenan Wynn ... Eddie Hoke
Evelyn Varden ... Sally Carr
Warren Stevens ... Marty Nelson
Beatrice Straight ... Claire Fortness
Ted Donaldson ... Jerry Fortness
Craig Stevens ... Mike Carr
Helen Westcott ... Jane Trask
Bette Davis ... Marie Hoke
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Storyline

On a flight from Chicago to Los Angeles via Iowa, lawyer David Trask gets to know three of his fellow passengers as one technical issue after another leads to delays and unscheduled stops along the way. Those three are physician Dr. Robert Fortness, struggling actress with the stage name Binky Gay, and loud salesman Eddie Hoke, who is both quick with a joke and quick to show off a photograph of his beautiful wife, Marie Hoke. Below the surface, the three have deeper stories, which are bringing them back to Los Angeles and which Dr. Fortness and Binky divulge to David. Dr. Fortness, an alcoholic, is returning to own up to his drunken part in the death of a friend, and his wife Claire's complicity in the matter. Binky, after being away in New York for a year, is returning to her husband, Mike Carr, hoping to take him away from his overbearing mother, former vaudeville star Sally Carr, who still basks in her former but no longer shining glory, and who is the cause of any marital problem ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Five great stars in a masterpiece of bold and intimate emotions !

Genres:

Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

15 February 1952 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Appel d'un inconnu See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Fox Movie Channel edition)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The plane used in the film is a former U.S. Army Air Force Douglas C-47A, no. 42-23853, built in 1943. After the war it was converted to civilian use with registration NC79077 as seen in this film. This plane was also used in This Island Earth (1955). At the time of this film it was owned by a private air firm in Long Beach, California. In 1965 it was sold to a private individual in Mexico and registered there as XA-PUR. It was scrapped in 1973. See more »

Goofs

Behind the opening credits, the taxi that's taking Trask to the airport passes two movie theaters at least three times, as if the rear projection of stock footage was on a continuous loop. The movies playing at these theaters are "Homestretch" and "The Two Mrs. Carrolls," (at the McVickers), both released five years before this film. The McVickers was a well known Chicago theatrical site, but the taxi arrives at the MIDLAND CITY, IOWA airport, and a flight FROM Chicago is among those listed on the arrival schedule. See more »

Quotes

Marie Hoke: Dull, foolish, vulgar to some but not to me. To me he was a man like a rock. Nothing could shake him. Nothing could shake his love. It was from him that I learned what love really was. Not a frail little fancy to be smashed and broken by pride and vanity and self pity. That's for children. That's for high school kids. But a rock as strong as life itself indestructible and eternal.
See more »

Connections

References The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947) See more »

Soundtracks

The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze
(uncredited)
Music by Gaston Lyle
Lyrics by George Leybourne
Sung by the passengers on the airplane
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Flashbacks get heavy duty in Phone Call from a Stranger...
9 January 2007 | by DoylenfSee all my reviews

Fairly interesting story of stranded passengers on an airliner recalling incidents from their past as they await connection to another plane. Nicely directed by Jean Negulesco, it's only problem is the uneven pace of the stories which are blended together rather smoothly.

Foremost among the passengers are MICHAEL RENNIE, GARY MERRILL, SHELLEY WINTERS and KEENYN WYNN (in one of his most obnoxious roles). Rennie recalls his unhappy marriage involving an auto accident he was responsible for while drinking--in which he lied about not having been behind the wheel. Wynn is a clownish fool who shows everyone a photo of his attractive wife in a bathing suit pose (BETTE DAVIS, whose later appearance in the film is after an accident has made her a cripple). Merrill is a seasoned traveler who calms the frazzled nerves of stripper Winters when the plane goes through storm turbulence.

Shelley gives her usual breezy and brash performance; Merrill is low-key and charming as a lawyer who doesn't drink too much; and Rennie is interesting in a key role.

The story gains interest after the plane crash when Merrill takes it upon himself to visit the victims' families, the most poignant part of the story involving his confrontation with BETTE DAVIS who is no longer the image of the glamor photo Wynn showed to the other passengers.

Told in typical '40s style with flashbacks serving as background filler, it holds the interest thanks to the excellent performances of a fine cast. BETTE DAVIS makes the most of small but interesting character role and BEATRICE STRAIGHT is touching as Michael Rennie's loyal wife. The EVELYN VARDEN/CRAIG STEVENS flashback with Varden painting herself as a saintly mother-in-law of Shelley Winters is a howl.

Major fault: the story seems too contrived and Merrill's motivations for seeing and getting involved with the families is a bit hard to swallow.


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