Never Take Candy from a Stranger (1960)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Drama, Social Problem Film  |   Run Time - 81 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

An undeservedly neglected little gem, Never Take Candy from a Stranger is a gripping, absorbing drama about the difficult subject of child molestation that, were it not for a fall into melodrama during its final 15 minutes or so, would be absolutely first rate. Even with the change at the end, which does work from a "social issues" point of view even as it weakens the picture dramatically, Candy is worth seeking out on those very rare occasions that it makes an appearance. Though produced by Hammer Studios, well known for its no-holds-barred horror productions, Candy is a restrained, non-exploitative look at both child molestation and at the manner in which forces of justice can be perverted in favor of the powerful. This last aspect of Candy is a bit simplistic, but it adds power to the film, and the court room scenes are among the film's finest. The pain, anguish, and courage of the family involved is all conveyed vividly, and while it is clear where the moral sympathies of the filmmakers lie, they do take pains to give the villain some humanity. That this is accomplished despite the fact that the molester never says a word is testament not only to writer John Hunter and director Cyril Frankel , but also to the fine work of cinematographer Freddie Francis and especially to the nuanced, deep work of Felix Aylmer. The entire cast is good, with young Janina Faye notable for her exceptional performance. Candy deserves a much wider audience.