If ever a movie deserved to be called a sleeper, this is it. There is not a wasted frame in this tense, tight psychological thriller that offered Mitchum one of his first shots at a juicy role. Nobody thought much of WHEN STRANGERS MARRY when it was completed after a 10-day shoot, and
Monogram didn't even line up a Manhattan theater for its exhibition. Instead, the film opened at the Brooklyn Strand in November, 1944, but word of mouth caused patrons to flock to it. Elliott is a drunken conventioneer in New York. When he makes the mistake of flashing a wad of dough in a bar, a
mysterious stranger claims that he has no place to stay in the city, so Elliott offers him the chance to share his hotel room. The two exit the bar, and the next day, Elliott is found strangled, but there is no sign of the other man. Hunter is a waitress from a tiny burg who has come to New York
to be with her new husband, Jagger, whom she wed after a brief courtship. Jagger doesn't show up and Hunter is worried as she spends the night in her hotel room alone. Earlier, she met an old flame, Mitchum, who wished her well in her new marriage. In the morning, Hunter turns to Mitchum, who
suggests that she call the police right away. A short while later, Jagger phones Hunter and says that he's okay and that they must meet right away, but she is not to reveal his whereabouts to anyone. Hamilton, the cop on the murder case, suspects that Mitchum might be Elliott's killer. Meanwhile,
Hunter joins Jagger, but his secretive behavior makes her question the wisdom of marrying him after having spent so little time with him. The cops pursue Hunter and Jagger, and he finally admits that he was in the bar with Elliott and that he went to the hotel room with the tipsy conventioneer.
However, Jagger claims that Elliott was alive when he left him. At this point, Hunter begins to wonder if Mitchum had anything to do with the murder. Jagger is arrested and tells his story to Hamilton, who believes him. Now, with the help of Hamilton, Hunter entraps Mitchum, who is uncovered as
the real killer when they catch him trying to slip the dead man's money into a post office mail slot. Mitchum comes clean and Hunter and Jagger are allowed to finally enjoy their honeymoon.
Although director Castle was only 30 years old, this was his sixth film, and one of the best he would make. This was the first venture into the gangster genre for prominent low-budget producers Franklin and Maurice King. It was also the first crack veteran screenwriter Yordan (who went to write
DETECTIVE STORY; THE HARDER THEY FALL; EL CID: KING OF KINGS) would take at the genre. The film benefits greatly from the excellent mood music provided by Tiomkin, who had already scored such important features as LOST HORIZON; YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU; and MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: If ever a movie deserved to be called a sleeper, this is it. There is not a wasted frame in this tense, tight psychological thriller that offered Mitchum one of his first shots at a juicy role. Nobody thought much of WHEN STRANGERS MARRY when it was comple… (more)