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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


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

At one point George Murphy calls his son, played by Billy Gray, Bud. Billy Gray would later play Bud on "Father Knows Best." See more »

Quotes

Gregory, Boy in San Sala: Guy who lived here got killed... he was murdered.
Robert Fontaine Jr.: Did it happen here?
Gregory, Boy in San Sala: Sure, most likely... probably right where you're standing.
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User Reviews

 
Visually Hypnotic
22 September 2001 | by abooboo-2See all my reviews

Rather surprising that the director here, David Bradley, would go on to make some notoriously awful films. There isn't quite enough to the story and the ending is a timid disappointment, but the film boasts some unusually powerful, even unforgettable imagery. The kind that, if you see this movie as a child, will probably stick with you for a lifetime.

Bradley does a wonderful job conveying a sense of how alien and intimidating the world must look through the eyes of a ten year old, especially when that ten year old ventures outside the safe, protected space that is his every day environment. (An environment that seems relatively harmless during the day but hostile and terrifying at night.)

What images. The boy's head framed against the backdrop of the huge, sinister house next door where the mysterious, ill-tempered man resides. The boy sprinting through a fog-enshrouded orchard toward a raised, judgmental camera. Hitch-hiking on the side of a lonely highway as headlights bear down. A motorcyclist appearing like a ghost. Getting a ride through the dark in the cold night air, the biker's affable ramblings distant, dream-like. A mesmerizing montage of the boy watching his dedicated dad scrambling to heat his orchards on a night when the temperature drops below freezing, lighting flame after flame after flame. A subtle, unsettling sequence set in an abandoned home on the ocean where a creepy older boy scares the living daylights out of him.

"Father Knows Best" brat Billy Gray plays the lonely boy and he is an odd, atypically intense child actor. At times he is effective, at others he is simply obnoxious. He is one moody little actor in a moody little film. He would probably even unnerve that red-headed demon from those unfortunate "Problem Child" movies. Nobody else in the cast makes much of an impression, though everyone is adequate. George Murphy is the decent dad. Nancy Davis (actually not a bad actress at all) is hardly on screen and when she is she's playing the least pregnant looking pregnant lady you'll ever see. Kurt Kasznar is the strange neighbor, though he's not as ghoulish or ghastly looking as you're supposed to think he is. The child actress who plays Gray's nemesis/sweetheart, a girl named Anna Glomb, looks remarkably like Denise Richards must have looked like at the same age.

A not-so-distant cousin of "To Kill A Mockingbird". Bradley was clearly a uniquely gifted film-maker, though this may be the only evidence of that talent. What happened?


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