MacArthur, in a promising screen debut, is the misunderstood 16-year-old son of film executive Daly. He goes to the movies and gets himself kicked out, but not before being provoked into hitting the house manager, Bissell. When MacArthur is arrested, he's insolent to the police and loses any sympathy he had gained from arresting officer Gregory. Daly uses his influence to get the charges dropped, though he won't listen to his son's side of the story. MacArthur tries to get Bissell to tell his father the truth, but Bissell refuses and tries to toss the teenager out of his office. MacArthur hits the man once more and is again arrested. However, this time Gregory believes the boy was really provoked and finally gets the truth out of Bissell. Daly begins to make an attempt to get closer to the son he doesn't know, and Gregory begins thinking the same thing about his own boy. The film is a marvelous story of father-son bonds, told with gritty honesty. The cast bring truth to their characterizations under Frankenheimer's controlled direction. This was Frankenheimer's theatrical debut, adapting a TV play, "Deal a Blow," he had directed in 1955. This earlier work had the same writer and also featured MacArthur in the lead. Frankenheimer had nothing but anxiety on the set, besieged by deadline problems and an open lack of confidence on the part of his crew. The result was not what he had intended, but it still plays as strong stuff and is fine for a first film. THE YOUNG STRANGER was one of RKO studio's last features and was turned over to Universal for distribution.