HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Armitage III: Polymatrix
Girls NIte Out
Moxie!
Five Women for the Killer
Dolce Vita, La
Pig
I Am Belmaya
Lodger, The
Show, The
Beta Test, The
Medium, The
John and the Hole
Survivalist, The
Ape Woman, The
Black Widow
Cop Secret
Dark Eyes of London, The
V/H/S/94
Fay Grim
Night of the Animated Dead
Freshman Year
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
Anne at 13,000 Ft.
Even Mice Belong in Heaven
Death Screams
Freakscene: The Story of Dinosaur Jr.
Demonia
East, The
Mandabi
Seance
Green Knight, The
Beasts of No Nation
One of Our Aircraft is Missing
Picture Stories
Another Round
Tape, The
Limbo
Supernova
Man Who Sold His Skin, The
Sweetheart
   
 
Newest Articles
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
   
 
  Stranger in Town, A Justice never takes a holiday
Year: 1943
Director: Roy Rowland
Stars: Frank Morgan, Richard Carlson, Jean Rogers, Porter Hall, Robert Barrat, Donald MacBride, Walter Baldwin, Andrew Tombes, Olin Howland, Chill Wills, Irving Bacon, Eddie Dunn, Gladys Blake, John Hodiak, Edward Keane
Genre: Comedy, Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: On holiday from a day job as justice of the Supreme Court in Washington, John Josephus Grant (Frank Morgan) travels incognito to the small town of Crown Port. Looking to unwind with a spot of duck-hunting, Grant is instead slapped with an unjust fine for lacking the right permit by crooked Judge Austin Hartley (Porter Hall). He soon discovers this is just the tip of the iceberg. For Hartley is only part of a ring of corruption led by Mayor Connison (Robert Barrat) who has everyone from the cops to local businesses on his payroll. Only honest lawyer Bill Adams (Richard Carlson) seems willing to take a moral stand. But his attempt to run against Connison in the local election leaves him a target for all kinds of dirty tricks. Lucky for Bill he has Grant in his corner and no-one knows whom the wily old stranger really is.

Frank Morgan, the affable character actor who will forever be remembered as The Wizard of Oz (1939), lands one of his best lesser known roles in this MGM comedy-drama with a surprisingly overt political message. Surprising at least for the notoriously conservative Hollywood studio. It might have helped that this was intended to play on the lower-half of a double-bill and that director Roy Rowland was married to the niece of studio boss Louis B. Mayer. Rowland went on to secure a place in cult film fandom with The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953), the bizarre musical fantasy scripted by iconoclastic children's writer Dr. Seuss. The rest of his filmography was no less eclectic including film noir Witness to Murder (1954), Cyd Charisse musical Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956), opera singer Mario Lanza's penultimate movie Seven Hills of Rome (1957) and The Girl Hunters (1963) wherein crime author Mickey Spillane portrayed his own creation: hard-boiled private eye Mike Hammer. True to form Rowland bowed out co-directing Italian swashbuckler The Fighting Corsair (1966).

Co-writers Isobel Lennart and William Kozlenko spin a spry and disarmingly subversive portrait of small town life that goes against the usual cosy picture painted at MGM. Justice Grant discovers Crown Port is riddled with corruption at every level. Even the town barber is a money-grubbing crook. Add to that those not directly involved with Mayor Connison's unsavoury antics adopt a love this town or leave it mentality. Swindlers and bully-boy tactics are labelled part of "the American way of life" and locals denounce anyone that dares challenge the crooked system as dangerous radicals. As Morgan's belligerent hero badgers Bill to stand up for what is right the film's message is clearly aimed at least in part at young men then fighting overseas. Don't let the cancer of fascism take root in small town USA. Lennart and Kozlenko tread a clever line between progressive and conservative political ideals with a scenario both groups can get behind.

It is a hard task making a seemingly dry legal drama brisk and compelling. A Stranger in Town succeeds by virtue of a warmhearted script with vivid, well-drawn characters that plays like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) in reverse. There folksy, small-town wisdom solves Washington corruption. Here Washington wisdom solves small-town corruption. The film even weaves in a sweet love story. Justice Grant brings his secretary Lucy (Jean Rogers) together with Bill who slowly thaws her frosty heart as they bumble through various cute mishaps. While the ensemble cast are solid across the board Frank Morgan excels as the judge whose crusty exterior hides not only a first-rate legal mind but thoroughly decent human being. It builds to a rousing conclusion that proves patriotic in the best sense.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 2617 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Andrew Pragasam
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: