Known in England as The Intimate Stranger, this tightly scripted crime thriller by blacklisted writer Howard Koch is set in London. Producer Alec C. Snowden was credited as the director, but in truth it was directed by the blacklisted American expatriate director Joseph Losey. Even though the plot line seemed farfetched, the thriller held the audience’s interest throughout. Richard Basehart as the imperfect man falsely accused might as well be an alter ego for Losey, while Mary Murphy makes for the cold-hearted bitchy femme fatale that gets under your skin as she does the dirty work for a little man hiding behind her skirt.
In the opening scene, Reggie Wilson is in the medical doctor’s office worried that he’s losing his mind. It’s told in flashback from that point on, until the concluding scene. Reggie’s an American film editor who got blackballed from Hollywood over an affair with his boss’s wife. He came to England and married a Brit, Lesley. She’s the daughter of the studio head of Commonwealth Films, Ben Case. As a result of the marriage, the ambitious and able Reggie got kicked upstairs as a producer, where he’s currently working on a big budget film. During the last few months an American woman named Evelyn Stewart is writing him from Newcastle threatening letters about their relationship. Reggie swears to Ben it’s not true. To settle the matter, for once and for all, Reggie and his wife drive to Newcastle to meet Evelyn. She convincingly sticks to her story, even when questioned by police. Fearing bad publicity if he presses charges and having no proof that she’s blackmailing him, Reggie instead tries to see Evelyn alone to find out what’s her game. Lesley spots him in a pub with her and drives home alone. Ben cancels the film, that was to star famous American actress Kay Wallace, a former lover of the producer, and plans to ease his son-in-law out of the business. The puzzled Reggie doesn’t recall Evelyn and begins to seriously question his sanity, her story seems so good. —Ozu’s World of Movie reviews
Joseph Walton Losey (January 14, 1909, La Crosse, Wisconsin – June 22, 1984, London) was an American theater and film director. After studying in Germany with Bertolt Brecht, Losey returned to the United States, eventually making his way to Hollywood.
While in Hollywood, Losey co-directed the original U.S. production of Galileo, by Brecht, with Brecht himself as the other co-director. Charles Laughton, who had worked with Brecht on the translation / adaptation, performed the lead role. In the context of that production, Losey also made a half hour film based on Galileo’s life.
During the McCarthy Era, Losey was investigated for his supposed ties with the Communist Party and was blacklisted by the Hollywood movie studio bosses. His career in shambles, he moved to London, where he continued working as a director.
Even in the UK, he experienced problems: his first British film, The Sleeping Tiger, a 1954 film noir crime thriller, bore the pseudonym Victor Hanbury… read more
** 1/2. I would have liked to say that The Intimate Stranger is one of the best films of the beginning of Joseph Losey's international career because Reggie Wilson's problems describe what he's just experienced in Hollywood. I would have liked it. But, as it is, the result is no more than an ordinary mystery drama. No more, no less. Already forgotten.