Add a Review

  • Warning: Spoilers
    Pat Jackson's modest psychological thriller is no masterpiece, but is an excellent example of one of the better things to be found in the supposed quota-quickie wasteland of 50's and 60's UK cinema. It begins ominously with a pick up on a dark street. A young girl enters a car as the titles roll, to be menaced by the driver. An jump cut later and a body is discovered by some children, hidden under some straw. This discovery scene, while providing a suitably dramatic jolt, is in the event rather flat and perfunctory. Jackson's forte lies in manipulating the audience with menace (for instance leaving the assailant faceless throughout). The latest victim, so artlessly uncovered, denies the audience the chance of fabricating its own terror.

    How one responds to `Don't Talk..' depends largely on how one views Jean, the romantically gauche heroine (Christine Gregg, who in a short career also appeared in Corman's minor `Young Racers' (1963) as well as the limp `Cover Girl Killer' (1959)). Her accidental interception of the stranger's call, growing fascination with his voice and suave masculinity, and eventual decision to meet him alone in a dark lane, demands willing suspension of disbelief. A similar response attaches itself to Rose in `Brighton Rock' (1948), another timid `victim-to-be'. In that film response to emotional intimidation (by Pinkie) is infuriatingly compliant but gives the film much of its power. Similarly, Jean's emotional vulnerability, no matter how far her naivity stretches reason, gives the present film much of its suspense. Will she or won't she meet "the strangler"?

    Jean's life is neatly compartmentalised, away from any real experience of life. We see her either with her dull and doting parents, or at `The Chequers' (the pub where she baby sits), in her shared bedroom with her precocious 14 year old sister Ann, on the bus with Molly the conductor, or in the phone box waiting for or taking her calls. Most important in her life, at least as the events of the film are concerned, is the latter. At first the box seems innocuous enough and it is shot almost incidentally. Then as the film progresses and it assumes greater significance in her life, the camera begins to view it flat on until, as an ominous shape, it hovers in the background of Jean's rendezvous, almost a monolithic suitor in its own right. Finally, as a hand reaches into disconnect Ann's frantic last call, it becomes a claustrophobic chamber of terror.

    Ann (Jenina Faye), Jean's confidant and rapt audience for romantic fantasies, plays a crucial part in the film. With a young girl's fickleness she announces to her astonished parents that she has become a Buddhist. This interest in a religion with a strong emphasis on reincarnation, provides a neat parallel to the love-struck Jean's statement a little later. Returning from her second phone conversation, (and having `re christened' herself Samantha) she says that she feels as if she has been `born again'. Earlier Ann's condemnation of blood sports and the ensuing discussion with Mr Painter, her proposed letter of complaint to the gentry, echoes the more immediate `hunt' outside, her sister as prey. Later it is she who rushes to her sister's help, and provides the film's final irony as to do it, it emerges, she had caught a lift from a complete stranger.

    Jackson's direction is unobtrusive and low key, being content with some modest dollying. He avoids dramatic close ups and such tricks of the cinematographer's trade to artificially raise suspense. Instead he stages one or two remarkable long takes - partly, one assumes, to lower shooting costs - but which still stand out. One is the extended dialogue that Jean has second time around in the phone box. For long minutes Jackson's camera focuses in unblinkingly in on this innocent girl, who is unmistakeningly falling for that reassuring, civilised voice on the other end. The prolonged nature of our gaze, and the young woman's implied captivity within the barred windows of the kiosk, combine and make the audience uneasy. The conversations that ensue, carrying the implication of sexual abuse and murder, are especially unsettling to a modern audience alert to such moral panics - particularly when the younger sister is abducted at the end.

    Jackson's most interesting use of the long take occurs as Jean rushes to leave The Chequers to make her next phone rendezvous. He shoots a long minute or two from a viewpoint just outside of the front door

    looking into the hall. Jean, panicking to leave on time, rushes to and fro. Another director might have cut away from Jean's nervous impatience. But by letting Jean dart around the narrow hallway at length, Jackson make a virtue out of visual economy. This extended shot creates suspense more naturally than any editing could do. And through all this nervous bustling Ron, the leisurely landlord, asks for things while remaining out of our sight - in effect, just another demanding, disembodied, voice in Jean's life.

    So Jean goes off to her final rendezvous. The climactic scenes are less effective, baring signs of a rushed wrap-up (including a very unimpressive day-for-night match during Ron's struggle with the abductor). In the build up to the denouement, Jackson shows Ann film watching having been sent off to the cinema by Jean to create an alibi for her sister's liaison. Aptly, Ann is watching a suspenseful sequence on the screen, one which she cannot enjoy while thinking of her sister's imminent danger (to which she shortly rushes off to thwart). There's a neat mirror reference here, back to the audience's own contemplation of unfolding events.

    All in all, Jackson's work is a pleasant surprise which makes one regret he was not able to work with larger budgets. Rarely seen, `Don't Speak to Strange Men' is nothing to keep quiet about.
  • Released as the support feature to The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Don't Talk to Strange Men is a very effective creeper that is worthy of a larger audience. Clocking in at just over an hour in running time, film thrives on tension building and mood without having to spill a drop of blood. Story effectively is about a teenage girl called Jean (Christina Gregg), who whilst waiting for her bus on a secluded country lane, answers the phone ringing at the phone box situated by the stop. The voice on the phone is a charming and well spoken man, he strikes up a conversation with the intrigued girl and it's not long before the two of them are arranging to speak to each other at the same time tomorrow, and the next day Jean begins fantasising about the man, conjuring up images of the perfect male. They are destined to meet up, does she not know these are dangerous times? Where young ladies fall prey to predatory monsters.

    The settings are perfect, Jean and her family live in some idyllic country village, the phone box and bus stop that houses the verbal "grooming" is at the junction of two pretty country lanes, and even the pub where Jean goes to help out is the kind of petite "off the beaten track" variety. It's these locations that give off a false sense of security, a normality of easy going life where nothing can go wrong, But as we know all too well these days, nowhere is safe and parents constantly live in fear for their children. With that, Don't Talk to Strange Men is something of a film ahead of its time, substitute naive Jean's phone box "relationship" with that of today's Internet groomers of youngsters, and, well, you get my point I'm sure.

    Neatly directed by Pat Jackson (The Feminine Touch), the film is structured in such a way that we the audience get fretful as each day, and each phone conversation, passes. Where once was this attractive young lady framed by countryside and the old fashioned value of the red phone box, now is replaced by surroundings that are too quiet and a big red beacon of impending doom! It's an astute turning of the table, a testament to good writing and excellent directional pacing. And how nice to report that the ending, too, has something up its sleeve to reveal. The cast is minimal but very effective, with Gregg doing well to convince us of her love yearning naivety, Dandy Nicholls (Hue & Cry) memorable (wasn't she always?) as the wise bus conductor and Janina Faye (The Horror of Dracula) stealing the film as Jean's younger, politico activist in waiting, sister.

    A lesson in how to get the maximum unease from such a simple premise, Don't Talk to Strange Men comes highly recommended. 8/10
  • Don't Talk to Strange Men is just what a thriller should be; simple and effective. The film is very short, running at only just over an hour; but this time is put to very good use as director Pat Jackson wastes no time in getting straight to the point. The film would appear to be a cautionary tale for kids and the subject at hand is the idea of a minor being 'groomed' by an adult who plans to take advantage of them. However, the director doesn't preach anything to the audience; instead the story is just allowed to play out. We focus on a small town that has been upset by the murders of some young kids. Jean Painter is the naive daughter of an overprotective father. She works at a local bar and catches the bus home. One day while waiting for the bus, she hears the phone in the booth near the bus stop ringing; and innocently answers the phone. She begins a dialogue with the stranger on the other end, and becomes obsessed with his voice. Eventually, the stranger suggests they meet...and it becomes clear he has sinister motives.

    A major reason why this film works so well is down to the fact that all the major characters are easy to get along with. Christina Gregg's character does require the audience to suspend their disbelief somewhat as she is so easily infatuated with the stranger on the phone; but she plays the role well and is easy to root for. Gwen Cherrell's script is serviceable; but at times the dialogue can be a little strange, and it feels unnatural. The story itself also seems a bit hard to believe at first glance; but inadvertently falling for a voice on the phone is no more unbelievable than falling for someone in an internet chat room; and that is a story we hear often today, meaning the film still has meaning almost fifty years since it was made. The film flows well throughout and is always interesting; but the final third is the best of all. The director really cranks up the tension until it becomes nail-biting, and the final conclusion is well worth the effort invested in the film. The actual ending itself is a bit abrupt and too light-hearted for my liking...but this is still an excellent thriller that more than makes up for any flaws. Highly recommended viewing...if you can find a copy.
  • I have always liked this film and had the chance recently to see it again as a friend taped it. It is a tale about a young girl who falls for a man she has talked to only by telephone at a remote call box. Lots of period footage of the girl and her young sister with their parents at home in their middle-class English country home. When you view the "over the call box courtship" of the nice fellow who wants to meet the young Christina Gregg you can identify with what you hear in the media today, about the way certain people court youngsters in Internet chat rooms with youngsters of today. Very thought provoking and at times charming little movie.....

    I wonder why they never broadcast these movies nowadays - it is still not available on DVD. I sometimes wonder what other little gems like this I am not aware of.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A lonely ill lit road, a car trailing a girl who is then persuaded to hop in for a lift, a clap of thunder then the credits start for this disquieting movie that unfortunately is still topical today. Also unfortunate is that luminous Christina Gregg, who was just tremendous as Jean and who should have been knocking back film offers with a stick after this, chose not to pursue a film career, but soon vanished into obscurity after a few television appearances.

    While waiting for a bus on a lonely bush lane Jean answers a call that comes through at a nearby phone booth. The accidental caller sounds like a smooth voiced charmer who keeps the innocent girl talking, trying to persuade her to reveal her name and to let him call her the next day which she does agree to. He rings again, same time, same phone booth and by discreet questions learns that the box is in an isolated position and he then starts to "groom" her by preying on her vulnerability and youth - even confessing he finds her voice sexy!! Of course he asks her to keep their conversation a secret but luckily she can't help confiding in the local bus conductress (Dandy Nicholls from "Till Death Us Do Part") who tries to bring her down to earth and, more importantly, her younger sister Ann. Janina Faye is very good as the younger sister who has lately embraced Buddhism and is busily writing letters to the local gentry condemning blood sports etc.

    There was even a red herring thrown in involving a man in a sports car who tries to use the call box, then starts to chat Jean up!! And when Jean finally comes face to face with the man (we, the viewers never do, to us he is always the faceless man) her expression shows that far from being the suave man of her dreams, he is pretty ordinary looking and far older and uglier than she had imagined.

    It turns out to be Ann who winds up in danger. The initial hitchhiker turns up dead in a barn and the sisters' parents, reading about it in the paper put a ban on their activities that night but Jean and Ann try to outwit them by agreeing to go to the local cinema. Jean is intending to meet her mysterious stranger but Ann, who is worried about her being in such a lonely place at night follows her. By a series of fortunate mistakes Jean finds herself at her uncle's pub but overhearing a strange man on the phone to "Samantha" is convinced some other girl is in danger - never dreaming it is her sister. Her Uncle Ron comes across as a prize chump - with all the graphic details of the murder in the paper and Jean quite beside herself that a girl is in danger down by the bus stop, he is not at all fussed at trying to convince her that she should walk down to the bus stop to catch one home - at 10 o'clock at night!!! - but when he does act he acts fast!!

    An unsettling last scene, proving the problem will never go away - when the parents question how Ann managed to get to her destination, seeing no buses ran that time of night, she admitted she hitchhiked and was picked up by "just some strange man"!! Not very comforting for parents leaving the cinema!!

    Starting with "Never Take Sweets From a Stranger" to "Don't Talk to Strange Men", poor little Janina Faye was caught in a morality movie morass. She definitely moved on from sweet young things as I can remember her playing a very bratty Amy in a British production of "Little Women" from 1970 and being in all the teen magazines of the time ("Fab", "Jackie" etc). Just lately I saw her in a Thriller episode "Good Salary, Prospects, Free Coffin" as the flatmate you wouldn't want as a flatmate - you know the type who borrow your dresses without permission and steal your food from the fridge, so she must have relished playing obnoxious roles!!!

    Highly Recommended.
  • Absolute gem that apparently went out as a support to 'Loneliness of the Long distance Runner' upon release. In many ways an object lesson in how to make a movie. The performances are all good the cinematography (by Jack Cardiff) is excellent and the simple tale assuredly told thanks to a fine script. It is a tale of girls' vulnerability to 'strange men' or simply the male predator. This is all the more effective for its telling from the perspective of the two girls. Unlikely to be presented in this way today, we see the girls enthusiasm, their welcoming of the attention and in the case of the older girl, her sensing the transition to of her adulthood. Potent stuff indeed and made all the more chilling by completely believable dialogue on all sides, including the parents, and the stunning photography, particularly the night shots. Dandy Nichols is a welcome extra as the bus conductress, but this is a must see for all except those only fascinated by 'blockbusters'. Very redolent of the time but also, as others have pointed out, still pertinent today because of internet chat lines and the like.
  • With a small cast of unknowns, black and white film when colour was becoming the normal, only a couple of sets, and really just the one exterior, the outside of a call box in a quite country lane, shot just out of London i would guess, and all probably filmed in a matter of a few days i should think? This is a film that shows what can be done with a good basic story, decent writing and sound acting. It is a kind of public notice almost a public service in it's clear warning, well most teenage girls even in 1962 would of known better, but then it is all about how cleaver, attractive, and plausible a Psychopath may be. Soundly entertaining throughout, if just a dash dated but in a very good way i found the film very entertaining, just a programme filler of it's day maybe, but it impresses and makes you long for those good old days when the B film might just be better than the A picture.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    As JohnRouseMelliotChard says, this film is deserving of more or better exposure, although of course, the Sunday afternoon slot would merit it, but in today's PC and wishy-washy liberal idiom, it wouldn't get the chance. Although 'internet grooming' by today's social media has become a worry, or a worrying 'norm', this film shows that with even less technology in those days (1962), an accomplished pervert was still able to do the same! A young sixteen-year-old, Jean, played by Christina Gregg is standing by a 'phone box, waiting for the bus that takes her to her babysitting job in the pub, run by Ron, (Conrad Philips). The 'phone rings, no-one seems around to answer it, Jean decides to pick it up. A man with, it has to be said, a sexy, captivating and smooth voice 'coaxes' Jean into talking, somewhat on her part anyway, naively.

    Before long, when jumping onto her bus, Jean's in a little headspin about the guy on the 'phone. So much so, she arranges to 'meet' him on the 'phone the following day. Add to this, talking to her sweet, yet precocious 14 year-old sister, Ann (Janina Faye), despite exercising caution, the latter's adding flame to the fire, probably unintentionally, but asking so many questions about the mystery man, clearly that Jean has been captivated by, even though it's just his voice. 'The man' (we don't have a name), carries on with this 'grooming' (for it's what he IS doing!).

    On one occasion, she doesn't make the bus as she's kept late at work, she herself becoming very agitated by this - 'the man' plays on this when questioning her about her lateness for their 'phone-liaison, puts down the 'phone on her which leads to Jean become even more agitated - 'upping' his game on her. Soon as he can though, on the next 'rendevous' on the 'phone, he suggests they meet. All Jean can do is see no real harm and they make the date 'at the 'phone box'. Ann in the meantime is banned by the erstwhile pipe-smoking and laid back Dad-of-daughters from going 'to the local dance'. Jean has been banned from going out too to her pub job on the same night. The two of them make an excuse to 'Dad' of going to the pictures - a subterfuge to get them out of the house and do what they were going to do - EXCEPT that Ann decides to follow Jean on her 'date at the 'phone box' after finally warning Jean this may be a huge mistake. Even the friendly and funny Dandy Nichols as the bus conductor, Molly, informs Jean she's mad doing this and a warning about a local girl found strangled, 'Are you crazy, he might be anything', says Molly. 'Of course not,' replies Jean, 'not with a voice like THAT, you can always tell', she goes on, obliviously. (Talk about insane!).

    Jean, eventually has second thoughts about this night of the date, runs off to the pub where she works - and - 'the man' appears at the very same place, asking Ron for directions! But then, Jean overhears and finally sees 'the voice/the man' ! Now knowing, that although she's out of danger in her new-found apprehension, she sees 'the man' ringing what of course must be the 'phone box. Watching and hearing him on the 'phone, she knows now another girl must be at the 'phone box as he is having the conversation in 'her name' (she gave the false name of 'Samantha' to 'the man'). Guess who it is - her sister, Ann, whilst looking for the now-disappeared Jean! The latter now knows she has to warn whoever it is. Jean confides in Ron she was going to meet this mystery man, Ron can't get his head around it as if Jean's mad, stating he had a conversation with 'the man' and he was meeting a friend. She rings the box, realising it's Ann, warns her, but, 'the man' is there - Ann says: 'I'm NOT Samantha!' 'He' replies: 'You ARE to ME!' I know I've put in 'Spoilers' but I'll let you see it!!!

    This was a neat thriller, with equally neat touches. Dandy Nichols as Molly, saying what we all would to Jean but injecting some humour at times and of course, the one who steals the show a little is Ann, not only with Jean, but annoying her dad with her anti-hunting lectures and telling him what she thinks of him and the establishment in her no-nonsense way. It had a good script and I wouldn't say it was nailbiting until the end predictably, but it flows well and the script and acting, plus Jean's undoubtedly stupidity and naiveity - perhaps 'of the time' and that's part of the point, however common 'grooming' is now, make it well worth a watch.
  • DON'T TALK TO STRANGE MEN is one of those intriguing, forgotten thrillers that's a great for fans of British cinema. It's about a lively and beautiful young girl who randomly answers a ringing public phone and soon finds herself entranced by the voice on the other end: the man sounds attractive and is willing to meet up with her. However, can he be trusted?

    There were a few films with similar themes that came out around the same time (like Hammer's NEVER TAKE SWEETS FROM A STRANGER) and they do feel ahead of their time. The use of a telephone for sinister communication here brings to mind the later chills of BLACK Christmas and WHEN A STRANGER CALLS and of course the whole stalking-style plot line would eventually transform into the slasher genre of the 1980s.

    DON'T TALK TO STRANGE MEN is quite a dated film, with a slow and sedate pace, and nothing much really happens until the very end. However, it's richly atmospheric and also quite realistic in the depiction of the average British family and their lives. It might not be the most entertaining film out there but it's a curio worth checking out nonetheless.
  • A young woman/older girl (played by the model Christina Gregg) is waiting for a bus in the countryside when the telephone rings at a call box next to the bus stop. She answers it and is instantly charmed by the male voice, unbeknown to her a child killer. I was very impressed with this little movie, Small cast, small budget but a highly effective thriller. Very tense and suspenseful, well acted, riveting (I found myself shouting at the girl not to be so stupid!), but also charming, giving us a glimpse into British life in the early 1960's. The killer was very creepy, helped by the fact that we barely see him.Good finale, highly recommended.
  • Christina Gregg is waiting for the bus to pick her up at the stop, when the phone rings in the telephone booth. That's all there is, besides her and the road and a few empty fields, so she picks up the phone and tells the cultured sound man on the other end that he has the wrong number. He thanks her, and admires her voice. They chat for a bit, and he asks if she will answer the phone if he calls the number at the same time tomorrow. She says she will. When she goes home, she high-hats her old, worn-out parents with her sophisticated secret admirer.

    It's one of those middle-class "Your daughters are in Danger!" thrillers that the Lifetime cable channel turns out by the score. This is very early in the evolution of the form, so there's lots to admire in early examples of what will become standard tropes while they are new and fresh.Miss Gregg is quite good. The overwhelming normality of everything and everyone about her, from her parents,, who don't know what she is going on about, to bus conductress Dandy Nichols, to kid sister Janina Faye, who just wants her sister to go the movies with her, make this an early and effective example of the genre.
  • A rather eerie little drama that feels as if it began life as a radio play, and would certainly make a good one.

    It begins like the ambush by the airplane in 'North by Northwest' on a roadside in broad daylight. (The voice at the other end of the line doesn't sound like a maniac, but what would a maniac sound like?) And there's a wonderful punchline right at the very end casually delivered by Janina Faye.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I enjoyed watching this. It shows how different things were back then in many ways, yet in some ways the same. It seems perverted men have always tried to groom young girls but back then there was no internet. The way they show the young innocent girl taken in by a mans voice n the phone was very interesting. The underlying terror created was very well directed and acted, reminiscent of early Hitchcock. The end seemed rushed but justice was served, the very end scene was a bit odd and didn't make much sense. When the younger sister says she thumbed a lift home. Why?
  • I do not remember if I first saw this at the local cinema or on TV,however I have always remembered this because of the isolated phone box.I have just seen this on TV and I have to say that it manages to sustain a genuinely creepy atmosphere throughout.It never puts a foot wrong.For one thing we never get to see the face of the murderer which helps make him see even more sinister.Conrad Phillips,who recently died,was the only well known face in this,apart of course from Dandy Nicholls,just a few years away from fame on TV.Difficult to believe that such a giant of the cinema,Jack Cardiff was Director of Photography on what was essentially a B film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Not bad for it's day B&W thriller that makes the most of its modest resources (£20,000 budget apparently),largely set along a remote stretch of country lane where a murderer of young women is on the loose. Slightly drippy, teenaged dreamer Jean (Christiana Gregg) answers the phone in a red call box one evening and so begins a voice-only flirtation with the smooth sounding man at the other end of the line. By the end of the film (just an hour) she has agreed to meet him in this deserted spot on what will be a dark night, and we know what fate will befall her if she keeps the appointment. Fortunately, she becomes suspicious in the nick of time, but the idiot pub landlord ( a strangely unheroic and thankless role for TVs William Tell, Conrad Phillips) ignores her warning that a dangerous psychopath is just up the road intent on harming a young woman, because he has 'a pub full (i.e. three) customers who are thirsty.' The young woman (Jean's sister, as it turns out) is snatched but, out of the blue, and for no reason that is explained to us, William Tell arrives to save the day with the mandatory B movie punch-up, prior to the police turning up. The film ends within about thirty seconds, with a slightly odd, out of kilter coda. The cast are competent enough, with good support coming via a cameo by the dependable Dandy Nicholls, and by Janina Faye as Jean's younger. lefty, sister. The plot mainly stands up to scrutiny, if you don't look too closely, though the scene near the end where the murderer uses the pub phone to call 'Samantha' (as Jean calls herself) to 'check that she is at the phone box' doesn't make much sense since he could simply drive up the road to see if she is there, and he runs the risk of being overheard (which he is, by Jean) making arrangements to meet a woman who will shortly be murdered (he hopes), and hit the headlines soon after. It's one of those scenes that has to be included to make the plot work (i.e. so that Jean's sister can be saved) but is otherwise irrational. But give it a look - I've seen many far worse films made with 'better' production values.
  • With shows like CATFISH it may seem somewhat new: grown men soliciting and seducing young naïve girls into their clutches, online, but in the 1961 British New Wave Thriller, it happened pretty much the same way, via payphone...

    And while a title like DON'T TALK TO STRANGE MEN sounds like a public service announcement, it's ironic that the stranger on the phone is the one advising this to his target, the maybe too pretty and perhaps slightly too old for the pathetically desperate, lonely, needy role as gorgeous girl-next-door Christina Gregg, a hybrid of two babyface starlets, Diane Baker (before) and Jennifer Jason Leigh (after): she's part of what's more a teenage crush movie than a serial killer suspense, and it's not a one way street despite her doing all the acting facially...

    The voice of the man who had already stalked and killed a young girl (shown in the prelude) is anything but creepy... Imagine a handsome photo along with graceful, educated writing style for online purposes today and that's his voice then... progressing with each phone call in a rural payphone on a bus route from a pub near the girl's home into town...

    Meanwhile, their "relationship" has both hunter and hunted going through all the ingredients of young love, including the introduction, initial trust, minor to major seduction including the word "love" and even, for a short while, breaking up... him doing the breaking... all while testing the waters of the lovely Jean who he calls Samantha...

    And she's got a cute, very curious younger sister in BLOOD OF DRACULA child actress Janina Faye: It's too bad that all descriptions of this movie spoils her ultimate/eventual significance into the plot-line, an 11th hour tightening of suspense as good as any more modern horror flick. Which doesn't need remaking since, sadly enough, it's been done many times both in art and real life: And most of the time, without what's an inevitable, intentionally and most likely a predictably uplifting conclusion. Although like many British films, there's a dose of last minute dark irony in there too.
  • mrdonleone29 June 2020
    Ultimately boring. Nothing interesting about this movie. Insha Allah.