For Reel

Talk About a Stranger (1952)
August 9, 2016, 5:26 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: David Bradley
4 Stars
Talk About a StrangerThis unjustly overlooked B-picture calls to mind To Kill a Mockingbird and Night of the Hunter in the way that it details a dark coming-of-age story in which a boy (Billy Gray) believes that a new immigrant in town (Kurt Kaszner) has killed his dog. The sense of lost innocence is directly linked with prejudice—to be an adult, the film might argue, is to identify with the gossiping, exclusive group of adults who are too willing to allow their hatred to perpetuate itself. If the early-goings of David Bradley’s film are relatively slow (the first half of the picture intentionally sets up a mostly idyllic image of Americana in order to later show a contrast), the storytelling and the visuals get increasingly surreal and abstract, favoring high-contrast shadows and radical camera angles. The road in which Gray often runs down seems to disappear into nothingness, suggesting the immediacy and paranoia that comes along with the night. Director David Bradley uses the imagery as a reflection of the child’s psyche (his first encounter with the stranger is filmed as a horror movie, and later Kazner literally lunges out of the fog as if he were a Universal monster), complimenting the sense of subjectivity by a persistent use of over-the-shoulder point-of-view shots in which the audience is positioned behind the boy to share his view. As with Night of the Hunter, the child’s first encounter with an adult conflict is rendered as a surreal, nightmarish folktale, creating both an intrinsic terror and fascination with the messiness of adulthood.

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