Not as a Stranger (1955)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Melodrama  |   Release Date - Jun 28, 1955 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 135 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Adapting Morton Thompson's sprawling novel for the screen is a daunting task, but Edna and Edward Anhalt did an extremely admirable job in their screenplay for Not As a Stranger. Inevitably, of course, some of the subtleties have had to be sacrificed and things telescoped a bit too much here and there, but on the whole, Stranger's screenplay does a marvelous job of transferring the novel to the screen. If it still has a tinge of soap opera and occasionally makes its points a bit heavily, these were also flaws in the original source material. First-time director Stanley Kramer does a good job of keeping the story moving and involving, and he certainly knows how to play the melodrama for all its worth. Unfortunately, Stranger suffer s a bit from some key miscasting, most notably Robert Mitchum in the central role. Mitchum is an actor who can be enormously powerful and effective -- but in a fairly limited range of roles. The laconic air that works so well when disguising pent-up emotions works against the character here, disengaging him from the story and distancing the audience from him. In addition, both he and Frank Sinatra are too old for their roles. Sinatra does provide some much-needed humor, while Olivia de Havilland turns in solid, affecting work that goes a long way toward making up for Mitchum's deficiencies. There's also exemplary work from Broderick Crawford and Charles Bickford. Despite its flaws, Stranger still emerges as a powerful and memorable medical melodrama.