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Talk About a Stranger (1952)

In an idyllic setting, a likable but dangerously volatile twelve-year-old boy tries to settle a score with his disagreeable, mysterious neighbor.

Director:

David Bradley

Writers:

Margaret Fitts (screenplay), Charlotte Armstrong (story "The Enemy")
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
George Murphy ... Robert Fontaine Sr.
Nancy Reagan ... Marge Fontaine (as Nancy Davis)
Billy Gray ... Robert Fontaine Jr.
Lewis Stone ... Mr. Wardlaw
Kurt Kasznar ... Matlock
Anna Glomb Anna Glomb ... Camille Wardlaw
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Storyline

When his dog dies, apparently from being poisoned, the young son of the owner of a small orange orchard in California immediately suspects an unfriendly, mysterious stranger who has just moved into the area, who recently had a quarrel with the boy's father. The boy's suspicions grow and also influence other townspeople who begin to believe that the stranger may also be a wanted killer. Unwarranted assumptions and wild speculations lead to several problems before the truth is revealed. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It Sends Chills Down Your Spine!


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 April 1952 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Stranger in the House See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$481,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Made during the height of the Joseph McCarthy era, this film is an allegory of the anti-communist fervor that commanded America's headlines at the time. Ironically, co-star and M-G-M contract player Nancy Reagan (née Davis) previously had her career derailed when she was erroneously branded a communist in one of the many red-baiting publications of the time. She sought dispensation from the then-president of the Screen Actors Guild, Ronald Reagan. This was how they met and they married a month before this film was released. See more »

Quotes

Talmadge: Something doesn't stand up. A guy like Matlock who lives like a pig and dresses like a hobo, drives a nicer car than I do and has a $500 watch!
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User Reviews

 
Weird Scenes Inside a Boy's Mind
9 December 2007 | by wes-connorsSee all my reviews

"Talk About a Stranger" is a much, much better film that you might expect. Despite the credits order, it stars Billy Gray (as Robert "Bud" Fontaine Jr.). Mr. Gray would, later, become best known as another "Bud", on the TV series "Father Knows Best". In this film, he plays a boy who adopts a stray dog, which he names "Boy"; then, he finds the dog has been poisoned. Gray suspects a mysterious new arrival in town, Kurt Kasznar (as Matlock). Mr. Kasznar acts, and looks, very much like an outsider; and, he seems to dislike "Boy", and children…

Gray does a fine job in a difficult role; he has to play the boy as both unlikeable, and likable. The character "Bud" is redeemed (or, made sympathetic) by his caring for his dead "Dog"; and, the film effectively captivates, with its plot developments. Kasznar is great, as usual; he keeps the performance from going in a direction not in tune with the film's ending. Top billed George Murphy and Nancy Davis (as parents Robert and Marge Fontaine) are ordinary; undoubtedly, they are better appreciated in other films. Later, Ms. Davis was, of course, wonderfully cast as the second Mrs. Ronald Reagan. The film's weaknesses might have been arrested by strengthening the "Fontaine" family.

The other players in "Talk About a Stranger" are terrific. Lewis Stone is at least as "fatherly" as Mr. Murphy; he plays the newspaperman (William J. Wardlaw) Gray runs to for help. Teddy Infuhr has a great little part as a boy who lives near a "Haunted House" Gray visits; watch for their scene in the "San Sala" house. The film is full of weird scenes; and, Gray's trip to "San Sala" is one. Note, also, that Gray is picked up hitchhiking by motorcycling sailor Alvy Moore, who immediately asks Gray if he has a sister! Mr. Moore will, later, become best known as "Hank Kimball" on the TV series "Green Acres". You also get to see Kathleen Freeman, Burt Mustin, and some others…

Cinematographer John Alton is the film's most valuable player. Mr. Alton, David Bradley (director), Cedric Gibbons (art director), and Eddie Imazu (art director) make "Talk About a Stranger" a great looking film. For this, and its cast, "Talk About a Stranger" is well worth watching.

******** Talk About a Stranger (1952) David Bradley ~ Billy Gray, Kurt Kasznar, Lewis Stone


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