A petty crook moves to an Ohio town and courts a factory owner's disabled daughter.
You Are Now Entering The Little Big City. Ashton. Walk Softly, Stranger is directed by Robert Stevenson and written by Frank Fenton. It stars Joseph Cotton, Alida Valli, Spring Byington, Paul Stewart and Jack Paar. Music is by Frederick Hollander and cinematography by Harry J. Wild. Chris Hale (Cotton) arrives in Ashton, Ohio, with manipulation and a robbery on his mind. But when he meets wheelchair bound Elaine Corelli (Valli), it alters the course of his future plans… It’s the other Cotton and Valli movie, the one that isn’t The Third Man. It’s also the movie that marked the wind of change at RKO as Howard Hughes breezed into the studio and promptly set about putting his own stamp on things, badly as it happens. Walk Softly, Stranger sat on the shelf for two years and subsequently got released in 1950, no doubt due in part to the success of The Third Man the year previously. It’s a strange blend of romantic melodrama – cum thriller – with some film noir edginess, something which doesn’t all together work. It’s very slowly paced and settles into a mood approaching disquiet, a femme fatale of sorts is nicely set up, and the whole “just one last job” vibe keeps interest in the story high. Acting from Cotton and Valli is strong, Paul Stewart is as usual good value when playing a twitchy loser bad guy type, and Byington almost steals the film from the leads with an ebullient show as the widow Brentman. Unfortunately, come the final third the picture fails to deliver on its moody promise, choosing instead to rely on one action set-piece and a waft of optimism for pic’s closure. It’s not the pay off required or hoped for, a shame because as a production in general it’s of good quality. 6/10