The Young Stranger
was one of the best teen movies that followed on from the success of Rebel Without a Cause
. Starring James MacArthur The Young Stranger
is released for the first time ever on DVD. A very young MacArthur excels as troubled teen Hal Ditmar. Ditmar is the son of a wealthy movie producer (James Daly) and his wife (Kim Hunter). One evening, an argument at a theatre between Hal and the theatre manager turns into a fight, and no one, not even his father, believes his actions were justified. Its up to his mother to try and bridge the gap between father and son, and help them to understand each other.
A story of teenage tearing-away in 1950s America, The Young Stranger
fails to make a serious, gripping narrative of the events that follow the somewhat innocuous pivotal moment when 16-year-old Harold "Hal" Ditmar (James MacArthur) punches a cinema manager. Adapted from a TV play and released two years after the benchmark for delinquency movies, Rebel Without a Cause
, it has none of that film's raw urgency, seeming staid and inconsequential in comparison.
The primary problem is that Hal makes an unconvincing hoodlum. His misdemeanour is less an act of rebellion than a brief misunderstanding. Far from articulating the angst of a generation, his angry tirades against his parents (Kim Hunter and James Daly) and the police set him apart from his peers and feel more like the self-pitying whines of a privileged individual. This sensation is further exacerbated by the fact that all of his problems are swiftly resolved in an all-too-neat ending. Still, The Young Stranger is an interesting period piece, not least for an amusingly tame car chase from first-time feature director John Frankenheimer. --Paul Philpott