"Engrossing film about a man (Gary Merrill) who befriends a small group of fellow passengers on a plane trip. When the plane crashes, he alone survives. Disturbed by the stories the people he befriended told him about their lives, he sets out to contact their families and help set things straight. In doing so, he brings healing to them and to himself with his own problems. The passengers include Keenan Wynn as an overly gregarious salesman bragging about his "sexy" wife and Shelley Winters as a stripper whose mother-in-law had no respect for her. Bette Davis appears as the widow of a victim with a tragic story of her own. The stories are told episodically as Merrill contacts each family. This is one of Merrill's finest performances. He was married to Davis at the time. Entire cast is excellent and their stories are touching and tragic with slight dashes of humor. A worthwhile film that is entertaining and with a timely message about forgiveness. Enjoy."
More than a plane crash!
C. Scott Harrison | 04/10/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have waited years for this terrific film to come out on DVD. Though a trifle melodramatic by today's jaded standards, there is an endearing quality to this film. The cast is perfect, yes, even Davis playing against type!, especially Merrill. Fascinating, thoughtful and absorbing film. Very glad it is finally out. Once started you cannot stop viewing- even for a bathroom break!"
1952 Bette Davis & Gary Merrill Doing a Morality Movie?
dr. m~d | USA | 04/02/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The lives of 4 passengers, who randomly meet before a flight to Los Angeles, become eternally braided. Nunnally Johnson & co-writer, I.A.R. Wylie come dangerously close to using the story from Thornton Wilder's (1927) novel, "The Bridge of San Luis Rey," without acknowleging it. Opps!
Before their flight is delayed by weather, 4 travelers commune in the airport's cafe. Playing the lead role is Bette Davis' 4th (& last) with her 4th husband, Gary Merrill. He's David Trask, a lawyer who's just left his adulterous wife immediately after she confesses to him that her affair is over. He's the serious & ethical guy in the movie compared to the other 3 characters.
One's Dr. Robert Fortness (Michael Rennie), a physician who's hiding something horrible. The second is Binky Gay (Shelley Winters). She's a stripper with a attractive-to-men charm who lusts after having good times. A fun 'girl', they'd say about such a woman. The third is an obnoxious prankster, "Good Time" Eddie Hoke (Keenan Wynn). He's a traveling salesman for a novelty company who can't shut up, has to be the center of attention.
The chemistry between these four mixes swell enough that they decide to stay in touch with each other. So, they exchange contact information while awaiting their flight in an airport cafe'. The more time they spend together, the more they reveal of themselves to each other. For instance, because of the trouble the physician is in, he hires Trask to be his attorney & thus, confides his secret to Trask.
Binky is an armchair psychoanalyst by default. Since she's had men's drunken hearts poured out to her repeatedly, given her profession, Binky's got a knack for doing instinctive personality analyses. She does this with the group of men & they learn that she's more than a "bimbo."
The never serious Good-Timing-Eddie whips out a wallet photo of his wife & passes it around. To everyone's astonishment she's a raving beauty with whom he's madly in love.
By now you might say, 'hey, it's 1952, Bette Davis has made it to the big time, where is she in this film?' I was thinking the same thing until she finally appeared. Believe me, without giving away the best parts of the story, she makes her 'entrance' right on time. Davis (predictably) steals the show in a supporting role, with her real-life husband playing the lead to her brief but key appearance.
Don't go away because the last scene with obnoxious Eddie's wife delivers the main point of the motion picture. It is such a surprise ending that it provides a feeling of being astounded because as the audience we're left questioning what really matters in our own lives? Which of our precious values is worth compromising & for whom?
After all is said & done in this high drama movie, then the viewer knows they've just been drawn cleverly into a morality movie.
I'll warn you though, throughout I'd be surprised if you didn't wonder over & again, 'what the heck is this all about?' 'What is going to hold all of these loose pieces together?' I'd also be extremely surprised if the word obnoxious, when it came to characterizing Good-Time-Eddie, wasn't one of those absolute suitably good fits.
Like everything else that Bette Davis --chose herself-- to perform in, she had extra good reasons that had so much to do with her own set of values. In this movie, Davis' message is soft spoken, but quite clear."
This is a Phone Call From A Stranger You Should Pick Up
Chris | Leeds, Utah United States | 01/11/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Bette Davis gives a man the strength to save his marriage.
A plane crash puts an end to the sufferings of three ill-fated passengers but leads to a second chance for the fourth, a man who believes his wife no longer loves him. Starring Gary Merrill, Shelley Winters, Keenan Wynn, and Michael Rennie as the passengers and Bette Davis in a standout performance as an invalid widow who seeks to guide the survivor on a journey to understanding. Phone Call From A Stranger boasts the unbeatable combination of a brilliant cast and an engraving plot line. It is a movie that will inspire as well as move you.
This is a fabulous inspiring movie that I highly suggest to all."
Fine motion picture with a stunning performance by Bette Dav
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 03/08/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Phone Call From A Stranger was far more powerful than I anticipated it would be. The plot moves along at a very good pace and the acting is extremely convincing. We get big name stars in this film, too: Keenan Wynn, Michael Rennie, Bette Davis, Gary Merrill, and Shelley Winters! The cinematography is pretty good although you can see that the plane is really just a miniature flying "in the air;" the cord holding the plane in mid-air is pretty visible. Sigh. However, the choreography is very well done.
When the film starts we quickly meet attorney David L. Trask (Gary Merrill) who's leaving his wife Jane because she was unfaithful to him. She begs him to stay but he can't forgive her and so he boards a plane board for California. As luck would have it, the plane is going to have to take off late because of a very intense rain storm; so it isn't long before we also meet three other people traveling on the same plane with David Trask: Binky Gay (Shelley Winters) is an armchair psychologist who worked as a stripper to make ends meet after her marriage started to have trouble and she wanted to be a star in the theater; and there's Dr. Robert Fortness (Michael Rennie) who has a long history of alcoholism and a very dark secret to hide from the police. We also meet traveling salesman and practical jokester Edmund Vincent 'Eddie' Hoke (Keenan Wynn).
David and the other three people meet and chat in the airport restaurant before leaving Chicago; and they continue to make fast friends on their trip westbound both onboard the plane and when they stop outside of Salt Lake City. They exchange each other's phone numbers with the exception of David Trask, who can't give information about his whereabouts in California because he's traveling there and doesn't know where he'll be staying yet. This turns out to be for the best, unfortunately, because the airplane crashes and David Trask is the sole survivor of the crash.
After some treatment for his wounds, David Trask is quite lucky in that he's fully ambulatory and just has a few scratches left to heal. David also decides to visit the family members of the now deceased friends he made on that flight so they can hear what their deceased relatives really and truly wanted them to know.
The plot can go anywhere from here; and there are more than just one or two surprises. David Trask must meet with family members who are bitter or who didn't really understand or know everything they really should have known about the departed. In addition, look for Bette Davis to steal the show with a stunning performance closer to the end of the picture.
The DVD has a few extras which include an example of how they cleaned up the film to make it digital; but I must confess I didn't see any major differences between the two copies of the print. We get a theatrical "teaser" and a theatrical trailer as well.
Phone Call From A Stranger packs a big punch and I highly recommend it for fans of the stars on this movie as well as people who enjoy classic movies that remain relevant in our times. The movie deals with the "double standard" of marital morality and that's very interesting, too. "