Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

USA 1950
Directed by
Robert Stevenson
81 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Walk Softly, Stranger

Although he ended his career as a Disney director and his biggest hit was Mary Poppins (1964), Robert Stevenson had a long and diverse career that ranged across many genres. 

Based on a play by Manuel Seff and Paul Yawitz adapted by Frank Fenton (it is hard to imagine how it would have worked on stage), what makes this film unusual is the ambiguous character of the main protagonist, played by Joseph Cotton. A card shark and a small-time thief he arrives in the small Midwestern town of Ashton, Ohio where he settles into a a white picket boarding house that he claims to have grown up in as child and soon meets Elaine Corelli (Alida Valli, the wheelchair-bound daughter of the town's wealthy shoe factory owner. All this happens with surprising, even perplexing, facility but we are kept involved by trying to divine what this guy is up to whilst the script offers some gems of hard-boiled dialogue (for example Chris and Elaine are in a car and he and he asks her if they had fun on their date. "Fun?", she replies and Chris retorts “It’s only a word. Throw it away”.

Stevenson keeps the pace moving and treats us with an impressive bit of stunt work towards the end of the film (and an interesting glimpse of the early days of airline travel) in a film that reminds one of Casablanca (1942) for its combination of charmingly world-weary male lead and souful, exotic female counterpart. Cotten, an actor whose appeal I have never understood, is however no Bogart and although this lets this well-made noir-tinged crime film down somewhat it still stands up as a quality studio film.

FYI: Valli also starred with Cotten in Carol Reed's classic, The Third Man (1949), Walk Softly, Stranger actually being made in 1948 but not released until 1950




Want something different?

random vintage best worst