AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Strangers in the Night
Alternate Title: House of Terror
Director: Anthony Mann (Dir)
Release Date:   12 Sep 1944
Production Date:   mid-May--late May 1944
Duration (in mins):   53 or 55-56
Duration (in feet):   5,008
Duration (in reels):   6
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Cast:   William Terry (Sgt. Johnny Meadows)  
    Virginia Grey (Dr. Leslie Ross)  
    Helene Thimig (Mrs. Hilda Blake)  
    Edith Barrett (Ivy Miller)  
    Anne O'Neal (Nurse Thompson)  
    Audley Anderson (Train conductor)  
    Jimmy Lucas (Waiter)  
    Roy Butler (Cab driver)  
    Charles Sullivan (Police driver)  
    Frances Morris (Nurse)  
    George Sherwood (Navy doctor)  
    Roy Darmour (Sailor)  
    Jack Gardner (Medical corpsman)  

Summary: While recuperating from an injury he received in the South Pacific, U.S. Marine Sergeant Johnny Meadows corresponds with Rosemary Blake, a woman he has never met, and whose name he found inscribed in a book. Johnny dreams of the day when he will finally meet the woman who has been sending him love letters from Monteflores, California. Soon after he returns to the United States, Johnny boards a train for Monteflores, and, en route, meets Dr. Leslie Ross, who has just taken a job as the town's physician. As Leslie and Johnny become acquainted, their train derails and many of their fellow passengers are injured. After helping Leslie attend to the injured passengers, Johnny goes to the Blake mansion expecting to meet his sweetheart. When Johnny arrives, however, he is greeted by Hilda, an elderly woman who introduces herself as Rosemary's mother. Delusional and crippled, Hilda tells Johnny that Rosemary is absent and will not be home for a few days. While Johnny settles into the Blake mansion and awaits Rosemary's return, Ivy Miller, Hilda's housekeeper, visits Leslie in a very agitated state. When Ivy disappears from her office soon after, Leslie suspects that she meant to tell her something important about Hilda. As the days pass, Johnny begins to wonder why Hilda is not telling him when her daughter will be returning, and admits his concern to Leslie. One day, Hilda follows Johnny to Leslie's office, and overhears Johnny tell the doctor that he is in love with her. Believing that Leslie is deliberately interfering with her plans, Hilda sets out to ruin the doctor's reputation. Johnny later tries to learn more about Rosemary by visiting the artist who painted her portrait in San Francisco. Ivy, meanwhile, writes a letter to Leslie warning her of Hilda's mental illness, but Hilda finds the letter, tears it up before it is mailed and kills Ivy. After learning that Hilda paid an artist $1,000 to paint a portrait of an imaginary girl, Johnny races back to Monteflores to expose Hilda's lie. Hilda confesses her deception, and tells Johnny and Leslie, who are now engaged, that she created an imaginary daughter to take the place of one she could never have. Hoping to prevent Leslie and Johnny from discovering Ivy's body, Hilda sabotages their car so that it will roll off a cliff and kill them. Hilda's scheme is foiled, however, when Johnny and Leslie discover the trap. To prove Hilda's guilt, Johnny and Leslie fake the sounds of a fall and wait for Hilda to telephone the police with an incriminating "accident" report. Realizing that she has been caught, Hilda turns to Rosemary's portrait for solace, but, at that moment, the heavy picture falls from the wall and kills her. 

Production Company: Republic Pictures Corp.  
Distribution Company: Republic Pictures Corp.  
Director: Anthony Mann (Dir)
  Joe Dill (Asst dir)
Producer: Rudolph E. Abel (Assoc prod)
Writer: Bryant Ford (Scr)
  Paul Gangelin (Scr)
  Philip MacDonald (Orig story)
Photography: Reggie Lanning (Photog)
Art Direction: Gano Chittenden (Art dir)
Film Editor: Arthur Roberts (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Perry Murdock (Set dec)
Costumes: Adele (Ward)
Music: Morton Scott (Mus dir)
Sound: Tom Carman (Sd)
Country: United States

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Republic Pictures Corp. 19/7/1944 dd/mm/yyyy LP12751 Yes

PCA NO: 10201
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: RCA Sound System

Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Suspense
Subjects (Major): Deception
  Mental illness
  Mothers and daughters
  Women physicians
Subjects (Minor): Accidental death
  Aged women
  Portraits (Paintings)
  Train wrecks
  War injuries

Note: The working title of this film was House of Terror

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   24 Jan 45   p. 5.
Film Daily   8 Nov 44   p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter   19 May 44   p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter   24 Jan 45   p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   11 Nov 44   p. 2174.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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