You won't be disappointed!
Memorable, crazy movie
It's the kind of movie you'll want to see a second time with someone who hasn't seen it yet, to remember what it was like to watch it for the first time.
The other reviews for "The Stranger" were all very negative. Well, for some reason, I didn't hate this one and enjoyed watching it. Am I saying it was great? Nah...but it's worth seeing.The story is a bit like the movie "Journey to the Far Side of the Sun" combined with "1984" and was intended as a pilot for a potential series. Back during the run of the "ABC Movie of the Week" it wasn't uncommon for the network to show pilots--either to see if the public liked them or to recoup their losses when they knew they weren't going to do the series. This one ultimately was not bought by the network--which was usually the case for these films. One exception that comes off the top of my head was the "Nightstalker" series...and I am sure a few more were first shown here and then became TV shows. Considering others didn't seem to like it, I guess the network did well by not approving the series!An astronaut (Glenn Corbett) is in space one moment and the next he wakes up in a hospital. This was pretty sloppy and showed that the budget wasn't very high for this project. Anyway, the hospital folks are trying to act like everything is normal but they are actually watching him closely, as they know he's an alien and comes from a planet called 'Earth'. These Terrans look like humans and act much like them but they also live in a parallel world that isn't quite the same. The biggest difference is that the government is very repressive and their way of dealing with problems is violent and nasty...and after he escapes (?) they pull out all the stops to kill him. Can the astronaut manage to survive and even get help from these Terrans?Okay...there were a few plot problems I mentioned above. Additionally, Corbett didn't have the best screen presence I've ever seen. But the story is interesting and kept me watching. In fact, I might have enjoyed a TV series like this one.
This as a TV movie of the week held was really not bad. How bad can it be with Lew Ayers? Glenn Corbett, Star Trek's TOS Zefrem Cochran, makes a good leading man. Sharon Archer is appealing as well. Cameron Mitchel make a great bad guy. The problem is that you can not see how this would make an interesting weekly TV show. Such a show would be set in a make believe police state that does not seem to have much of an philosophy. There are only two people out there to help him. And he does not want to end the police state. He just wants to get home. He does not seem to have any compassion for the people with the exception of Sharon Archer.
Typical ABC Movie-of-The-Week circa 1973 when some cheesy and some interesting Sci Fi films were produced rather prolifically. They are still way better than the crap that Sci-Fi Channel makes seemingly weekly for "Premieres".This one was more or less a rip-off/remake of the much better Journey to The Far Side of The Sun(1969) which was made in England and Europe by Gerry Anderson. That film benefited from incredible FX work from Derek Meddings, a great score from Barry Gray and a good cast and had a haunting ending.The Stranger doesn't have any of that. The plot-an astronaut Glenn Corbett-blown up in space-finds himself on a parallel earth, we learn it is called Terra(one assumes the play on the word "terror" as well as Terra meaning Earth) with three moons. He wakes up-a prisoner in what turns out is a mental hospital-to a very paranoid and not-giving-much-info hospital staff. Managing to escape he finds out he's on this creepy, alternate version of earth but ruled by a totalitarian government called The Perfect Order and is pursued by Cameron Mitchell, a ruthless agent of the secret police for this government. The agents drive around in ominous looking Plymouths(that do not sound like Earth cars) and wear these strange knit jackets with wide lapels and they've cautioned everyone that a dangerous mental patient has escaped and that he must be found. Our astronaut manages to evade capture by dressing like the inhabitants-who dress unfashionably drab sort of like old 60's Communist Russia. When he starts asking questions-such as a scene in a bookstore when he asks "What came before the Perfect Order?" suspicion is aroused and up pops Mitchell and his thugs who threaten the already paranoid citizens with "Ward E" a sinister mental asylum. They'll do anything to cooperate and earn "citizen points" rather than face the ominous Ward E so Corbett is off again in The Fugitive-style escapes. The evils of Ward E are illustrated when another administrator (Tim O' Connor) confides to Mitchell that he wonders if this visitor has something to say and maybe this "Perfect Order" is wrong. Later we see him sitting in the middle of a weird surrealistic room, in hospital clothing, completely docile and vegetative and Mitchell warns him over his shoulder how he has paid the price for doubting. Meanwhile our astronaut befriends a young doctor(Sharon Acker) who not only believes his story of coming from-and wanting to go back to-another earth-but seems to have feelings for him. Eventually she is captured and hooks up with him later saying she escaped. He wants to use this society's slightly better space technology (which is hinted at, by Perfect Order elders that they'll eventually use to invade Earth) to escape this madness. When they get to the launch facility, she implores him not to go(he's already put on a space suit) and in the struggle, she reveals she was in fact taken for "treatments" at Ward E and has been brainwashed to lead him back to the authorities. He sets off an alarm which incapacitates Acker(revealing the nature of the Ward E treatments)who crumbles, grasping her head and he attempts to get aboard the spaceship. She's recaptured and the last we see is Mitchell telling her she's failed and it's back to Ward E-forever-as she screams. The launch fails and he winds up, staring wistfully at the three moons, all set up for a TV series that never happened.The biggest thing this film had working against it was lack of a budget. The FX are non-existent, space stuff is all stock and a shot of the Terra launch facility simply looks like Cape Kennedy/Vandenberg AFB footage at night. The three moons are nothing more than three balls just hung on string in front of a star field-very cheesy. It has the claustrophobic-shot-in-an-old-office building feel that many of those Made-for-TV'ers suffered from. Also, everything seems very convenient. He appears to have escaped into a regular New England-looking back lot town-that seems very near the space facility. It has a creepy moment when he takes the scarf off Sharon Acker's head to see her temple areas disfigured horribly from shock treatments, though I saw this coming a mile away, the fact she shows up inexplicably and with a head scarf on.It was a film, very much of it's time that Gerry Anderson did much better earlier, but downplayed the political angle of it.
The whole plot goes like this: An astronaut gets caught in a freak accident and lands up on some alternate earth where a Big Brother type government rules everything and controls everyone. The government, known as the Perfect Order, sends anyone who steps out of line to a place called Ward E, where they are treated pretty badly. Bad acting, predictable plotline and little to endear you to the cast makes this one a turkey.1984 does the same thing, only a lot better.