B Movie Master Piece Don't Talk To Strange Men

Written by The Hawk
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In a barnyard young children play in the hay, when one grabs a large handful of hay and throws it at another they are surprised to find a ladies handbag in the centre. Searching for other gems in the hay the children are mortified to discover that under the hay lays the body of a young woman. This is one of several murders that have occurred locally.

While her sister is ill in hospital Jean (Christina Gregg) helps her sister’s husband Ron with their child Timmy.  Jean is still young herself, and despite being both very capable and mature, at the end of each day she must travel down an isolated lane to the bus stop, not the best of choices. On her first night helping Ron, while waiting for the bus Jean hears the phone ring in the nearby phone box. Choosing to answer the phone Jean is wooed by the voice of the man on the other end of the phone.  In a time where young women could happily enjoy a sheltered life, she is enthralled by the conversation. The following night the man rings again, this time blowing Jean away with his charming ways. It’s only a matter of time before Jean considers meeting her mystery man, but could he and the murders be connected.

Made for back in the days when movies had a full feature and what they often called a B movie or a companion piece, this 1962 movie was never meant to see the world on its own. It was paired with the movie The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner, running at just a little over an hour in length. This cautionary tale is incredibly dated, but not without a great deal of charm. Filmed in black and white when a great number of movies had made the step to colour, and displaying some really old fashioned qualities, Don’t Talk To Stranger’s is actually a far superior offering than the movie it accompanied.

The movie offers a very serious message, padded out with a lot of quirky 60’s British humour; Jean’s younger sister Ann for example is carrying out a single handed campaign against hunting, citing her father as one of the very people she protests against “Mummy do you know how many innocent defensive foxes are slaughtered every year by angry old men in pink coats? Twelve thousand” It’s at this moment that her father walks in carrying a rabbit he has proudly shot “Assassin!” she says looking away in disgust. Ann’s purpose in the movie is to pull away from the incredibly mature lesson being taught to cinema goers of the day.

 Meanwhile you get to see Jean overwhelmed by what to her is the first sign in her life of true love, she dances around and talks utter nonsense to her family, all the time sworn to secrecy by the man on the end of the phone “Don’t tell your girlfriends about us will you?” he demands in a both kind, but forceful manner. There are no surprises as to where the storyline is going, but that does not detract from the strength of the movie. Just ten minutes prior to the end of the movie I found myself quite literally on the edge of my seat as due to an unexpected turn of events someone unexpected is put into extreme danger.

Older readers will be familiar with a large amount of the cast in the movie, all of whom except the delightful Christina Gregg enjoyed a great career in British television and cinema. Of the cast its hard not to single out Dandy Nichols as bus conductor Molly; Nichols spent much of her later career being addressed as “You silly old cow” playing the long suffering Else Garnett in TV shows Till Death Us Do Part and In Sickness And In Health starring opposite Warren Mitchell as the outspoken and often racist conservative Alf Garnett. Molly adds the humour that Ann does not steal, as the first person in the know about Jean’s secret romance, continually telling Jean that she should be in the funny farm.

 It’s rather sad when looking through the cast list of the movie to discover exactly how many of them have died, most of which over 20 years ago.

Don’t Talk To Strange Men is a marvellously well crafted piece of low budget film-making directed by Pat Jackson who later went on to make The Prisoner and Enid Blyton’s Famous Five TV serial. Despite the dated aspects of the movie, I feel this is an amazingly pertinent story because the link initially is created by a wrong number, and now 46 years on there are more telephone numbers than ever before, and more young people owning phones; you never really know who is on the end of the phone when a wrong number is dialled, something that should be on the minds of any responsible parent.

Don’t Talk To Strange Men has not been seen on television for many years and is enjoying being released to buy for the first time in any format. The DVD has a scattering of trailers and film excerpts, but no other special features.


© The Hawk/ZANI Media
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Read 5256 times Last modified on Friday, 08 May 2015 16:44
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