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STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT (director: Anthony Mann; screenwriters: Bryant Ford/Paul Gangelin/based on a story by Phillip MacDonald; cinematographer: Reggie Lanning; editor: Arthur Roberts; music: Morton Scott; cast: Audley Anderson (Train Conductor), William Terry (Sgt. Johnny Meadows), Virginia Grey (Dr. Leslie Ross), Helene Thimig (Mrs. Hilda Blake), Edith Barrett (Ivy Miller), Ann O’Neal (Nurse Thompson); Runtime: 56; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Rudolph E. Abel; Republic (Olive Films); 1944)
“A study in insanity that packs a punch as it relates a bizarre loneliness story.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Anthony Mann(“Cimarron”/”Man of the West”/”The Naked Spur”) directs this Republic minor noir film, a study in insanity that packs a punch as it relates a bizarre loneliness story. It’s based on a story by Phillip MacDonald. Writers Bryant Ford and Paul Gangelin adapt it to the screen.

Warning: spoiler in the next paragraph.

Recovering from a back wound, Marine Sgt. Johnny Meadows (William Terry), stationed during the war in the South Pacific, receives romantic pen pal mail from a girl named Rosemary Blake. He doesn’t know that she’s a fictitious girl made up by the lonely Hilda Blake (Helene Thimig, German actress who escaped to Hollywood), who wished she had a daughter. When the soldier comes home and looks up the letter writer, Hilda tells him she’s away, but invites him to stay with her as a guest in her remote mansion on top of a hill. Meanwhile Johnny has met on the train Hilda’s attractive doctor Leslie Ross (Virginia Grey) and helps her deal with the casualties after the accidental train wreck. Johnny then dates Leslie while living with Hilda. When Hilda’s friend Ivy (Edith Barrett), another live-in guest, tells Johnny the truth, a crazed Hilda kills her and then attempts to kill Johnny, but a giant wall painting of her fantasy daughter falls on her and instantly kills her (as she’s metaphorically killed by trying to live in the imaginary world).


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”