The Strange One is a 1957 black-and-white film noir about students faced with an ethical dilemma in a military college in the Southern United States.
It was directed by Jack Garfein, produced by Sam Spiegel, and was adapted from a novel and stage play by Calder Willingham called End as a Man.
It marked the film debut of Ben Gazzara, George Peppard and Julie Wilson. Gazzara, Pat Hingle, Peter Mark Richman and Arthur Storch reprised their roles, after starring in the stage version.
Cadet Staff Sergeant Jocko De Paris is a senior at the fictional Southern Military College. Using the authority of his own rank, his father’s connections with the school, and the college’s tradition of allowing upperclassmen to bully new cadets, De Paris effectively does what he pleases. Everyone at the school is either afraid of him or believes he is a normal or even exemplary cadet.
One night, he frames George Avery, the son of a staff member, making it appear that he got drunk and fell unconscious on the quadrangle all by himself. Cadet Avery is expelled, and De Paris sees to it that every cadet who took part in the incident lies during the investigation to conceal his own involvement. Two freshmen, along with the roommates of De Paris and the regimental commander, eventually decide to end De Paris’ manipulation of them and the school. By the time De Paris is cornered in a restaurant in the nearby town, a great many cadets have banded together against him.
Laurie Corger, the regimental commander, orders him to sign a statement confessing to engineering Avery’s expulsion and going to great lengths to conceal the truth from investigators. Initially reacting with smug confidence and indignant anger at being accused, De Paris finally folds and signs the statement, asking that he be allowed to leave quietly. The cadets then take him away from the restaurant and start dragging an increasingly frantic and blindfolded De Paris towards a railroad track. Instead of throwing him in front of the approaching train as he expects, they put him on board once it stops. As the train begins to move again, De Paris, having removed his blindfold, runs to the last car and rails at the watching cadets, shouting furiously, “I’ll be back! I’ll get you guys! You can’t do this to Jocko De Paris!”
- Ben Gazzara as Cadet Sgt. Jocko De Paris.
- Pat Hingle as Cadet Harold Koble.
- Peter Mark Richman as Cadet Col. Laurie Corger.
- Arthur Storch as Cadet Simmons.
- Paul E. Richards as Cadet Perrin “Cockroach” McKee.
- Larry Gates as Maj. George Avery Sr.
- Clifton James as Col. M.N. Ramsey.
- Geoffrey Horne as Cadet George Avery Jr.
- James Olson as Cadet Roger Gatt.
- Julie Wilson as Peonie aka “Rosebud”.
- George Peppard as Cadet Robert Marquales.
- The film is noteworthy, due to the entire acting and technical staff being from the Actors Studio.
- It focuses on the dehumanisation associated with the tradition of hazing within the college and is noteworthy for its portrayal of homoerotic themes – and at least one gay character – at a time when the Hays Code prohibited such expression.
Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Jack Garfein.
- Producer(s): Sam Spiegel.
- Writer(s): Calder Willingham (novel, play, and screenplay).
- Music: Kenyon Hopkins.
- Cinematography: Burnett Guffey.
- Editor(s): Sidney Katz.
- Production: Horizon Pictures.
- Distributor(s): Columbia Pictures.
- Release Date: 12 April 1957.
- Running Time: 100 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.