Talk About a Stranger (1952): Bradley’s Film Noir, Tale of a Boy and his Dog

One of the few film noirs that revolve around a boy, Talk About a Stranger is directed by David Bradley, starring Billy Gray as the boy and George Murphy as his father.

The picture was shot by ace cinematographer John Alton, who uses the visual vocabulary of film noir.

The tale centers on Bud Fontaine Jr. (Billy Gray), who takes instant dislike of Matlock (officially Dr. Paul Mahler), his new, strange neighbor (Kurt Kasznar).

After his dog is found dead by poison, Bud blames the stranger, aiming to smear his name and spread vicious rumors about him.

His parents, played by George Murphy and Nancy Davis (later Reagan’s wife), don’t understand their boy.

Bud endangers the crops by vandalizing the neighbor’s oil tank. He is then told the dog was killed by poisoned meat that was meant for coyotes

Bud learns a lesson: People are not always what they appear to be.

Despite low budget, the film was a commercial flop.


Release date: April 18, 1952.

Running time: 65 minutes


End Note:

I am grateful to TCM, which showed this rarely-seen film as part of its series, “Noir Alley,” on December 15, 2018.