37 user 5 critic

The Deliberate Stranger (1986)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Thriller | TV Movie 4 May 1986
Based on a true story, this film depicts the life of Theodore Robert Bundy, the serial killer. In 1974, after having murdered several young women, he leaves Seattle for Utah, where he is a ... See full summary »


Marvin J. Chomsky


Richard W. Larsen (book), Hesper Anderson (teleplay)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Mark Harmon ... Ted Bundy
Frederic Forrest ... Det. Bob Keppel
George Grizzard ... Richard Larsen
Ben Masters ... Det. Mike Fisher
Glynnis O'Connor ... Cas Richter
M. Emmet Walsh ... Det. Sam Davies
John Ashton ... Det. Roger Dunn
Bonnie Bartlett ... Louise Bundy
Billy Green Bush ... Officer Bradley (Provo detective)
Frederick Coffin ... Jerry Thompson
Deborah Goodrich ... Martha Chambers
Lawrence Pressman ... Ken Wolverton
Macon McCalman ... Larsen's editor
Jeannetta Arnette ... Mrs. Richter
William Boyett ... Aspen Detective


Based on a true story, this film depicts the life of Theodore Robert Bundy, the serial killer. In 1974, after having murdered several young women, he leaves Seattle for Utah, where he is a law student and where other girls disappear. It takes the cooperation of a number of police forces to work efficiently on this case. Soon, but not soon enough, the police eliminate endless possibilities and close in on him. Bundy is tried in the media and his good-boy attitude brings him sympathy but also the hatred of many. Written by Steve Richer <sricher@sympatico.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He was easy to like. Deadly to know. Tough to catch.


Crime | Drama | Thriller


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Robert Hays was the first choice for the lead role. Hays rejected the role due to moral issues with the script, and out of respect for the victims' families. See more »


Richard Larsen [George Grizzard] states in the beginning of the movie that Ted Bundy's reign of terror began in Seattle in 1974 and ended in Miami in 1979. While Bundy was apprehended for the last time in Florida, the murders he committed were in Tallahassee and Jacksonville, which are in the northern Florida. Miami, on the other hand, is in southern Florida, and is almost 350 miles south of Jacksonville and almost 470 miles from Tallahassee. There is no evidence that Bundy ever traveled that far south. See more »


Det. Bob Keppel: The MO of the Ted at Lake Sammamish, same fractures to the victim's skulls, and the same mountain location where the bodies were dumped all add up to one human... monster.
See more »


Referenced in NCIS: Smoked (2006) See more »

User Reviews

a killer performance...
15 September 2001 | by mcfly-31See all my reviews

A note to any wannabe actors: study Mark Harmon's performance heavily here. You will learn all the tricks to being sauve, slick, sinister and charming. Unfortunately, the part had to be inspired by real events, of 70's wacko Ted Bundy. Masquerading as a law student with a talent of attracting girls seemingly in every port, a different man takes over at night as Harmon stalks and kills young women. This element of the film got a bit redundant after awhile, and really isn't the key. Neither is the endless policework that can be seen weekly on every prime-time cop show. It's Harmon's way of double-talking his girlfriends, and especially, the police. Watching Harmon's scenes on the witness stand or in the questioning room of the police station are your chance to watch a total pro at work. And the actors portraying the cops aren't slouches either. Tons of veterans like M. Emmett Walsh, Frederic Forest and John Ashton are featured. And a very effective performance from unknown journeyman actor George Grizzard, as Bundy's only friend through it all. He comes off very likable as the guy who just can't bring himself to condemn this young buck he admires. The two or three actresses featured here and there do ok as well. The only mis-step for the film is the majorly overdone, if still somewhat creepy music score. It gets a bit B-movie at times, but it adds to the eerieness of the film's tone. Though at 3 hours (4 if you're watching with commercials) it grips you from start to finish. But the real draw, most notably for aspiring actors, is to forget classes and watch Mark Harmon put on a clinic for performing.

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Release Date:

4 May 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Deliberate Stranger See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Lorimar Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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