Cast & Crew
In Beverly Hills, California, sixteen-year-old high-school student Harold J. Ditmar, son of Hollywood producer Thomas Ditmar, heads for home in his beat-up jalopy. There, Hal asks his mother Helen to help covince Thomas to lend him his sleek convertible. After Helen sends him directly to his father, Thomas mildly reproaches the boy for wanting more than he already has. That night, Hal goes to the movies with his friend, Jerry Doyle, and sits behind a man whose date firmly discourages his attentions. Upon noticing Hal's feet propped up near the back of his chair, the man commands Hal to sit up straight, provoking rude remarks from the teenager. After a few exchanges, the man summons the theater manager, Mr. Grubbs, who orders Hal and Jerry to leave. In the lobby, Grubbs calls the boys into his office, but Hal refuses to go, stating that he will leave, as he was originally told to do. Hal walks out the front door but there is grabbed by the doorman, who shoves him into the lobby, and after Grubbs also grabs him, Hal punches the manager. He is arrested by Sgt. Shipley, who will not listen to Hal's claim that he hit Grubbs only in self-defense.
Realizing that the officer considers him a common delinquent, a frustrated Hal lashes out with sarcasm, causing more problems for himself. When he hears that his father has been called to the police station, however, Hal grows frightened and pleads with Shipley to release him. Thomas arrives, and although he glares at Hal, in a private conversation with Shipley he defends his son's actions as a boyish lapse. A cynical Shipley disagrees, insinuating that Hal is a hooligan who, regardless of his privileged background, is in danger of becoming a criminal if he is not disciplined correctly. At home, Hal tries to explain his version of the story to his father, but Thomas will not listen and chastises him harshly. Hal reverts to sullenness, softening slightly after Helen assures him that his father will be less angry in the morning.
The next day, Helen drives Hal to pick up his car outside the movie theater, and when she offers to follow him home in case the car engine fails, he assumes she distrusts him and races through a stoplight to evade her. At home, a contrite Hal admits that he desperately wants Thomas, who seems to notice him only when he has done something wrong, to believe him, prompting Helen to reveal tearfully that Thomas once called Hal the only person in the world he loved. That night, Thomas cheerfully fixes himself a cocktail, ignoring Helen's request to have a serious discussion about Hal. Although Thomas has secretly arranged with the owner of the theater chain for the charges against Hal to be dropped, he refuses to tell Hal in order to disconcert the boy, and later will not answer Hal's questions about what lies in store for him at the police station the next day. Infuriated, Hal yells at Thomas, who tells him to shut up. Later, Helen interrupts Thomas' late-night work to ask him if he wants a divorce, and after he assures her that he loves her, she tells him she needs more than just words.
Because Thomas is too busy to take Hal to the police station the next day, Helen brings him, and when Shipley asks Hal to apologize to Grubbs, Hal refuses. Grubbs, however, has been instructed by his boss to drop the charges, so Shipley is forced to let Hal leave. Later, Hal visits Jerry, who has been ordered by his father to stay away from Hal, and the two roughhouse happily until Mr. Doyle throws out Hal, humiliating him. At dinner, Thomas reveals that he heard about Hal's rude behavior in the police station, and pronounces several new punishments. After his father lectures him, Hal explodes that he is glad he finally knows what his father thinks of him, adding that he should not expect his father to believe him, as they are virtually strangers. Later, Hal sneaks out, passing his parents sitting silently in separate rooms. Not knowing he is gone, Thomas approaches Helen, who reveals that Hal does not know that his father loves him, prompting a shaken Thomas to admit that he does not know how to talk to his son.
Meanwhile, Hal goes to Grubbs's office and apologizes for their earlier scuffle. He then asks the manager to call Thomas and explain that Hal hit him only in self-defense, but Grubbs orders Hal from his office. Hal remains polite, but after Grubbs grabs him, he punches the man again. Back in the police station, a subdued Hal explains the story to Shipley, who is persuaded by Hal's calm insistence. Shipley calls in Grubbs and Thomas, and this time badgers Grubbs until the manager admits that he provoked Hal into punching him. After throwing out Grubbs, Shipley asks Thomas why he did not believe Hal, and Thomas responds that he did not realize it was so important to the boy. Thomas then informs Hal that Grubbs confessed, but when his father does not apologize, Hal stomps outside. There, Thomas gently teases the boy about his strong right hook, and recognizing the love in his father's voice, Hal laughs with him.
Edward Biery Jr.
Albert S. D'agostino
John B. Mansbridge
The Young Stranger
That was certainly the case with John Frankenheimer, whose first feature, The Young Stranger (1957), was a critical success despite the largely uncooperative producers and technicians who worked on it. Frankenheimer (who was only 26 years old at the time) was adapting a story he first shot for television, so he was at an even greater disadvantage in the eyes of his co-workers. He was so stung by the experience of filming The Young Stranger, he avoided movie work altogether for the next few years, preferring instead to stick to TV. However, even with the extra agitation, Frankenheimer constructed a straightforward juvenile delinquency drama that was heartfelt and effective. Its understated tone is a nice contrast to the fiery, sometimes overtly melodramatic path blazed by Rebel Without a Cause (1955).
In The Young Stranger, written by Robert Dozier, James MacArthur plays Hal, the sixteen year-old son of Tom Ditmar (James Daly), a famous movie producer. Tom continually chastises Hal for his semi-surly attitude and youthful rebellion. One night at a movie theater, Hal puts his feet on the seat in front of him. He winds up in an argument with another patron and is asked to leave. On the way out, he's provoked by Mr. Grubbs, the theater manager (Whit Bissell). Hal belts Grubbs in the mouth and gets hauled to the police station, where his unruly behavior is noted by Shipley (James Gregory), a kindly police officer. Hal's dad, of course, is appalled by all of this, but he and his son will eventually reconnect...after another fight and the help of concerned Officer Shipley.
Years later, Frankenheimer was completely open about the ordeal of shooting this picture. "I was panic stricken on my first day at the studio," he said. "We rehearsed in continuity, and the actors began to use one scene to get into the other. When we shot the film out of continuity they were lost and had to start all over again."
But that was a common beginner's error. The more formidable challenge was commanding the respect of the crew and a tight shooting schedule: "The cameraman had been under contract at Metro for years, and didn't want to do the stuff I wanted him to do. He influenced the way the rest of the crew reacted to me. We had two weeks' rehearsal and a twenty-five day shooting schedule, and I was told that if I didn't finish the film in twenty-five days, the lights get turned out. So we finished in twenty-five days."
It must have helped that Frankenheimer had a talented cast. MacArthur (the son of legendary stage and screen actress, Helen Hayes) received strong reviews for his performance as Tom, but would have to wait until the late 1960s, when he co-starred on TV's Hawaii Five-O, before he would achieve real stardom. And Gregory, who would later appear as a bumbling Senator in Frankenheimer's political thriller The Manchurian Candidate (1962), played one of the great recurring characters in TV history - Inspector Luger, the morbidly lonely, loud-mouthed detective on ABC's Barney Miller.
Directed by: John Frankenheimer
Screenplay: Robert Dozier
Producer: Stuart Millar
Photography: Robert Planck
Editing: Robert Swink and Edward Biery, Jr.
Music: Leonard Rosenman
Art Direction: Albert D'Agostino and John B. Mansbridge
Principal Cast: James MacArthur (Hal), Kim Hunter (Helen), James Daly (Tom Ditmar), James Gregory (Shipley), Whit Bissell (Grubbs), Jeffrey Silver (Jerry).
BW-85m. Closed captioning.
by Paul Tatara
The Young Stranger
TCM Remembers - Kim Hunter
KIM HUNTER, 1922-2002
Kim Hunter, the versatile, distinguished actress who won the Supporting Actress Academy Award for her portrayal as the long-suffering Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) and appeared as Dr. Zira in three Planet of the Apes movies, died in her Greenwich Village apartment from an apparent heart attack on September 11, 2002. She was 79.
Born Janet Cole in Detroit on November 12, 1922, where her mother was a concert pianist, she made her professional debut at 17 with a small theatre company in Miami. She gained notice immediately with her strong voice and alluring presence, and eventually studied at the Actors' Studio in New York.
She made a striking film debut in an eerie, low-budget RKO horror film, The Seventh Victim (1943), produced by Val Lewton. She played a similar ingenue role in another stylish cult flick, When Strangers Meet (1944) - a film directed by William Castle and notable for featuring Robert Mitchum in one of his first starring roles. Hunter's big break came two years later when Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger cast her in their splendid romantic fantasy, Stairway to Heaven (1946).
Despite her growing popularity as a screen actress, Hunter returned to the stage to make her Broadway debut as Stella in Tennessee Williams'A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). When Elia Kazan adapted the production for the silver screen, she continued her role as Stella opposite Marlon Brando, and won an Oscar as best supporting actress. A few more film roles followed, but sadly her screen career entered a lull in the late 1950s, after Hunter, a liberal Democrat, was listed as a communist sympathizer by Red Channels, a red-hunting booklet that influenced hiring by studios and the Television networks. Kim was blacklisted from both mediums despite never having been labeled a Communist, yet as a strong believer in civil rights she signed a lot of petitions and was a sponsor of a 1949 World Peace Conference in New York. She was widely praised in the industry for her testimony to the New York Supreme Court in 1962 against the publishers of Red Channels, and helped pave the way for clearance of many performers unjustly accused of Communist associations.
Hunter spent the next few years on the stage and didn't make a strong impression again in films until she was cast as Dr. Zira in the Planet of the Apes (1968), as a simian psychiatrist in the classic science fiction film. The success of that film encouraged her to continue playing the same character in two back-to-back sequels - Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) and Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971). Hunter spent the remainder of her career on the stage and television, but she a terrific cameo role in Clint Eastwood's Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil (1997), one of her last films. She is survived by her daughter Kathryn, from her first marriage to William Baldwin, and her son Sean, from her marriage to actor and producer Robert Emmett.
By Michael T. Toole
TCM REMEMBERS J. LEE THOMPSON, 1914 - 2002
Oscar-nominated director J. Lee Thompson died August 30th at the age of 88. Though he worked in several genres, Thompson was best-known for his action films. Thompson was born in Bristol England on August 1, 1914. After graduating from college he became a playwright and it was the appearance of one of his plays on London's famous West End that got him noticed by the British film studio, Elstree. His first filmed script was The Pride of Folly in 1937 and others appeared sporadically until his career was side-tracked during the war when Thompson served in the RAF as a B-29 tail gunner. (He also reportedly worked as a dialogue coach on Hitchcock's Jamaica Inn, 1939.) Thompson's directorial debut came in 1950 when he adapted his own play Double Error to the screen as Murder Without Crime. Throughout the decade he directed a variety of dramas and comedies until hitting it big in 1958 with Ice Cold in Alex (released in the US minus 50 minutes under the title Desert Attack). It was nominated for three BAFTAs and was enough of a commercial success that Thompson landed the film that made his career: The Guns of Navarone (1961). This enormous international hit snagged Thompson an Oscar nomination for Best Director. He immediately followed that with the original Cape Fear (1962) and his reputation was set. Though Thompson remained active almost three more decades he didn't reach that level again. He worked on Westerns (Mackenna's Gold, 1969), horror films (Eye of the Devil, 1967), literary adaptations (Huckleberry Finn, 1974) and others. During this time, Thompson directed two Planet of the Apes sequels but was kept most busy working with Charles Bronson, for whom he directed nine films. Thompson's last film was in 1989.
KATRIN CARTLIDGE, 1961 - 2002
The news of actress Katrin Cartlidge's death at the age of 41 has come as a shock. It's not just the age but the thought that even though Cartlidge was already a major actress--despite a slender filmography--she held out the promise of even greater work, a promise that so few artists of any type can make. "Fearless" is perhaps the word most often used to describe Cartlidge but emotions are never enough for an actor; much more is required. Director Mike Leigh said she had "the objective eye of an artist" while remarking on her "her deep-seated suspicion of all forms of woolly thinking and received ideas."
Cartlidge was born in London on May 15, 1961. Her first acting work was on the stage, in tiny independent theatres before she was selected by Peter Gill for the National Theatre. Cartlidge also worked as a dresser at the Royal Court where she later made one of her final stage appearances. She began appearing in the popular British TV series Brookside before making her first film in 1985, Sacred Hearts. A small role in the Robbie Coltrane-Rik Mayall vehicle Eat the Rich (1987) followed before Cartlidge had her first leading role in Mike Leigh's scathing Naked (1993).
Cartlidge never took a safe approach in her films. She told The Guardian that "I try to work with film-makers who I feel will produce something original, revealing and provoking. If something provokes a reaction, it's well worth doing." You can see this in her choice of projects. Before the Rain (1994) dramatized violence in Macedonia in the wake of the Yugoslavian break-up and made Cartlidge something of a star in the area. She appeared in Lars Von Trier's controversial look at redemption, Breaking the Waves (1996), Leigh's sharply detailed story of aging friends Career Girls (1997), as one of Jack the Ripper's victims in From Hell (2001), as a call girl trying to leave the business in Clair Dolan (1998) and in the Oscar-winning film about Bosnia-Herzegovina, No Man's Land (2001). Her last work included a BBC adaptation of Crime and Punishment (2002), playing Salvador Dali's wife Gala in the BBC comedy-drama Surrealissimo (2002) and an appearance in Rosanna Arquette's directorial debut, Searching for Debra Winger (also 2002), a documentary about women in the film industry.
Cartlidge died September 7th from septicaemia brought on by pneumonia.
By Lang Thompson
TCM Remembers - Kim Hunter
You know, they arrested me for car theft. My dad's car! Gee if I'd known I was gonna get caught, I'd have done pretty much better for myself. My dad's car---what a heap!- Teen
The working titles for this film were Deal a Blow, Strike a Blow and Is This Our Son?. The film's opening title card reads: "RKO Radio Pictures presents James MacArthur as The Young Stranger." The story originally aired on August 25, 1955 on the CBS television program Climax! under the title "Deal a Blow." The television version featured many of the cast and crew who went on to work on the film, including stars James MacArthur and Whit Bissell, writer Robert Dozier and director John Frankenheimer. According to a November 1956 McCall's article, the film was based on a real-life incident that happened between Dozier and his father, then-RKO production head William Dozier.
In January 1956, according to a Daily Variety article, RKO producer Stuart Millar purchased the film rights to the story from Robert Dozier. Contemporary reviews noted the youthfulness of the film's cast and crew, including the 25-year-old Dozier, 28-year-old Millar, 26-year-old Frankenheimer and 19-year-old MacArthur. A December 1956 Cue article stated that the "picture and production both typify the trend toward big-studio-financed independent production-with the advent of young blood proving that the demand for New Faces extends further than merely to the stars."
MacArthur, the son of actress Helen Hayes and playwright Charles MacArthur, made his feature film debut in The Young Stranger, as did Shirley Popkin and Chuck Tyler. The film also marked the feature debut of famed television director Frankenheimer (1930-2002). Modern sources note that Frankenheimer called his experience on the production one of the worst of his career, and for the next four years he returned to television, until the production of his 1961 United Artists film The Young Savages. He followed that picture with The Manchurian Candidate and Birdman of Alcatraz, both released in 1962 (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70, for all). Notices for The Young Stranger were universally favorable, with the Hollywood Reporter reviewer calling the film "an important and special picture."
Released in United States 1996
Released in United States Spring May 1957
Director John Frankenheimer died July 6, 2002 of a stroke at the age of 72.
James McArthur's screen debut.
John Frankenheimer's feature directorial debut.
Film was adapted from a program produced for the TV series "Climax" also directed by Frankenheimer.
Released in United States 1996 (Shown in New York City (MOMA) as part of program "Directed by John Frankenheimer: The Television and Film Work" January 19 - February 6, 1996.)
Released in United States Spring May 1957