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Talk About a Stranger

Talk About a Stranger(1952)

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teaser Talk About a Stranger (1952)

Billy Gray, later the son on Father Knows Best, offers a compelling study of juvenile paranoia in this unjustly overlooked little gem from MGM. Intrigued when a mysterious, threatening looking man (Kurt Kaszner) moves into an abandoned house in his small town, Gray quickly develops an unreasoning suspicion of the newcomer. He helps spread doubt throughout the town, leading to a fiery confrontation with more than a few parallels to the current era's anti-Communist witch hunts. Ironically, leading lady Nancy Davis, cast as Gray's mother, had almost been blacklisted when her name erroneously appeared on a Hollywood list of Communist sympathizers. She met future husband Ronald Reagan when she enlisted his help, as Screen Actor's Guild president, in clearing her name. The film's distinctive look -- it rarely deviates from Gray's perspective, showing an increasingly distorted view of reality as his hysteria deepens -- is most often credited to cinematographer John Alton, a master of film noir techniques from his work on pictures likes T-Men (1947) and He Walked by Night (1948). Director David Bradley was making his Hollywood debut after attracting attention with two classics adaptations, Peer Gynt (1941) and Julius Caesar (1950), shot independently and starring a young Charlton Heston.

By Frank Miller

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