"Talk About a Stranger" is a much, much better film that you might expect. Despite the credits order, it stars Billy Gray (as Robert "Bud" Fontaine Jr.). Mr. Gray would, later, become best known as another "Bud", on the TV series "Father Knows Best". In this film, he plays a boy who adopts a stray dog, which he names "Boy"; then, he finds the dog has been poisoned. Gray suspects a mysterious new arrival in town, Kurt Kasznar (as Matlock). Mr. Kasznar acts, and looks, very much like an outsider; and, he seems to dislike "Boy", and children
Gray does a fine job in a difficult role; he has to play the boy as both unlikeable, and likable. The character "Bud" is redeemed (or, made sympathetic) by his caring for his dead "Dog"; and, the film effectively captivates, with its plot developments. Kasznar is great, as usual; he keeps the performance from going in a direction not in tune with the film's ending. Top billed George Murphy and Nancy Davis (as parents Robert and Marge Fontaine) are ordinary; undoubtedly, they are better appreciated in other films. Later, Ms. Davis was, of course, wonderfully cast as the second Mrs. Ronald Reagan. The film's weaknesses might have been arrested by strengthening the "Fontaine" family.
The other players in "Talk About a Stranger" are terrific. Lewis Stone is at least as "fatherly" as Mr. Murphy; he plays the newspaperman (William J. Wardlaw) Gray runs to for help. Teddy Infuhr has a great little part as a boy who lives near a "Haunted House" Gray visits; watch for their scene in the "San Sala" house. The film is full of weird scenes; and, Gray's trip to "San Sala" is one. Note, also, that Gray is picked up hitchhiking by motorcycling sailor Alvy Moore, who immediately asks Gray if he has a sister! Mr. Moore will, later, become best known as "Hank Kimball" on the TV series "Green Acres". You also get to see Kathleen Freeman, Burt Mustin, and some others
Cinematographer John Alton is the film's most valuable player. Mr. Alton, David Bradley (director), Cedric Gibbons (art director), and Eddie Imazu (art director) make "Talk About a Stranger" a great looking film. For this, and its cast, "Talk About a Stranger" is well worth watching.
******** Talk About a Stranger (1952) David Bradley ~ Billy Gray, Kurt Kasznar, Lewis Stone