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Friday, April 29, 2016

Phone Call From A Stranger (1952)

Four strangers board a plane and become friendly very quickly: a stripper (Shelley Winters), a doctor (Michael Rennie), a traveling salesman (Keenan Wynn) and a lawyer (Gary Merrill). But when the plane crashes, only the lawyer survives. He takes on the mission of visiting the family of the three others and discovers their backstories. A decent melodrama that takes a page out of GRAND HOTEL and ably directed by Jean Negulesco who would soon add CinemaScope and Technicolor to his melodramas and become 20th Century Fox's "go to" man for this sort of thing. The screenplay by Nunnally Johnson is decent (though its best screenplay win at the Venice film festival is dubious) although the handling of the sequence where Merrill visits Winters' husband (Craig Stevens) and mother in law (Evelyn Varden) borders on silliness and poor taste. There's a good score by Franz Waxman. It's polished and overly plotted but not without entertainment value. With Bette Davis, Beatrice Straight (in her film debut), George Nader, Warren Stevens, Hugh Beaumont and Helen Westcott.

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