Cast & Crew
Paul E. Richards
At the Southern Military College, brutish upper-classman Jocko de Paris intimidates freshmen Robert Marquales and Simmons into inviting the school's dimwitted football star, Roger Gatt, to their room for a crooked card game. Although Jocko's amiable roommate, Harold Knoble, assures the reluctant freshmen that the game is just a good-natured prank, in reality, the vindictive Jocko has planned the evening as a ruse to get even with Major Avery, the schoolmaster who once disciplined him. Jocko orders the whining Simmons to act as bartender and ply Gatt with alcohol. Once Gatt becomes drunk and belligerent, Jocko provokes him into beating Simmons with a broom. In the next room, Avery's cadet son Georgie hears Simmons' cries and hurries to alert his father, who is the officer on duty. When Avery reaches the freshmen's room, however, he finds them sound asleep in their bunks, thus casting doubt on Georgie's story. After the major departs, the freshmen jump out of their bunks and Roger emerges from his hiding place in their closet just as Georgie runs into the room. At reveille the next morning, Georgie's badly beaten body is found sprawled next to a tree. When Colonel Cliff Ramey, the officer in charge, summons Jocko to his office and informs him that Georgie has accused him of assault, Jocko asserts that Georgie fell down the stairs while drunk and is now suffering delusions of persecution. The colonel then states that he doubts that Georgie was drunk and has taken a sample of the cadet's blood to prove it. The colonel warns that a negative test result will prove that Georgie was framed. Soon after, word comes that Georgie has been expelled from the institute. Although Marquales expresses remorse for his role in the incident, he is afraid to speak out for fear that his complicity in the incident would result in expulsion. As Simmons chides Marquales for being a hypocrite, Jocko enters the room and taunts Simmons about his fear of women. When Jocko announces that he has arranged a date for Simmons to help him overcome his phobia, the panicked Simmons lies that he has chosen a life of celibacy in order to become a chaplain in honor of his cousin who sacrificed his life during the war. Dismissing Simmons' excuse, Jocko orders him to meet a woman named Rosebud later that night. Soon after, Avery summons Simmons and Marquales to the guard room and appeals to them to tell the truth about Georgie. Although Marquales insists that he was asleep at the time of the incident, Avery suspects that he is concealing something. Afterward, Marquales, furious at being made to lie, warns Jocko never again to involve him in one of his twisted schemes. Later, Cadet Perrin McKee, a sycophant who fawns over Jocko, tells him that he saw him shove a tube down Georgie's throat and pour whiskey into it. Bragging that he is a writer with the "fire of genius in him," Perrin announces that he is in the midst of writing Jocko's biography. When Perrin tenderly places his hand on Jocko's arm and offers to read an excerpt, Jocko, repulsed, calls him a cockroach. That night, Jocko escorts the slatternly Rosebud to the cheap café where they are to meet Simmons. As Jocko begins to toy with Simmons, several guards from the military school arrive to take Jocko back to campus. After he is brought to Avery's office, Jocko is shown a rubber tube found in his locker. When Avery accuses him of using it to funnel alcohol down Georgie's throat and states that whiskey residue was detected in the tube, Jocko, who had thoroughly scrubbed the tube, calls his bluff and cruelly implies that Georgie's problems were caused by parental abuse. Enraged, Avery slaps Jocko and calls him a liar. The attack is witnessed by some cadets, and afterward, Jocko brags to Simmons that he has finally gotten Avery fired. Marquales overhears Jocko, and disgusted, asks Roger to join him and the others in telling the truth. Although he fears expulsion, Roger agrees to meet with Simmons, Harold and Marquales at the armory to discuss the situation. There Marquales accuses them of cowardice for letting Jocko use them. After Marquales asserts that the school is partially to blame by allowing Jocko to flourish, he convinces the others to tell their story to Roger's roommate, Cadet Colonel Corger. Afterward, as Jocko and Rosebud wait for Simmons' arrival at the café, Marquales appears and tells Jocko that the cadets want to meet with him upstairs. There, Corger hands Jocko a confession and orders him to sign it. When Jocko demands to confront his accusers, Roger, Marquales, Simmons and Harold step forward. Claiming that it was all just a practical joke, Jocko refuses to sign the document. The cadets then take him prisoner, shove him into a car and drive into the swamp where they blindfold him. Hearing a train whistle approaching, Jocko, thinking that the cadets are going to hurl him beneath the train wheels, begs for his life. When the train stops, the cadets dump the blindfolded, whimpering Jocko into the passenger car and leave. After removing his blindfold, Jocko runs to the rear of the car defiantly shouting that he will get even.
Paul E. Richards
Robert E. Jiras
Sascha W. Laurance
Charles J. Maguire
Joseph C. Wright
The Strange One
Ben Gazzara plays Jocko De Paris, a macho troublemaker who lords over his younger classmates at a southern military school. De Paris and his dim-witted partners in abuse, Koble (Pat Hingle) and Gatt (James Olson), take special joy in tormenting Simmons (Arthur Storch), a young man who appears to be gay. Maj. Avery (Larry Gates) is an adult who's on to Jocko's power trip, and attempts to get him kicked out of the school. Jocko, on the other hand, recognizes his enemy, and tries to harm Avery's reputation. Gazzara's character is so wholly despicable that the tag line on The Strange One's movie poster actually states: "The Most Fascinating Louse You Ever Met!" He might also be fighting his own homosexual tendencies, but that wasn't the kind of thing you shouted about on movie posters in 1957.
Producer Sam Spiegel, who was deep in preparation for David Lean's The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) and had already produced Elia Kazan's On the Waterfront (1954), originally wanted Kazan to adapt Calder Willingham's play, End as a Man, into a high profile film starring James Dean. When that proposal went nowhere, he decided to position the picture as a low-budget launching pad for several Actors Studio members who had originated their roles on stage. Spiegel then hired Jack Garfein, who had introduced the play to the actors during a Studio workshop, to direct the picture. As generous as this seemed at the time, things quickly headed south once filming began.
Initially, Garfein had a close relationship with Spiegel, but he eventually grew to dislike the producer intensely. For starters, Spiegel had problems with the play's powerful, open-ended final act, and he also felt that Willingham was a long-winded bore. To get a small amount of revenge on Spiegel for his needless antagonism, Willingham would actually steal expensive cigars from the producer's desk when he wasn't looking; he'd open his jacket and show them to Garfein after their meetings. Tack on that Spiegel couldn't stand hot weather, and that most of the picture was shot in central Florida, and the kettle boiled over on a regular basis.
In his autobiography, In the Moment: My Life as an Actor, Ben Gazzara wrote that Garfein's "command of the film surprised me. It was the first movie for all of us but he seemed especially comfortable and assured. There were two actors who had not been in the Actors Studio production: the young, handsome George Peppard, who I had never heard of, replaced William Smithers, and James Olson played the dumb football player that Al Salmi portrayed so well. Jack got them to blend in perfectly. Peppard brought an innocence and vulnerability to the part that helped the story, and Olson got all the same laughs Salmi had gotten. Arthur Storch, who played the butt of all the insults and hazing, took the additional step of having a dentist fit him for an upper plate of very bucked teeth. Onstage he used no visual device to demonstrate how unattractive his character was, but it was decided that on film it would work well. And it did. Paul Richards' comic take on a homosexual who is writing a book about Jocko was as good as ever. And my sidekick, Pat Hingle, with his fear of flouting protocol, was even better on film than he was onstage."
During filming, however, Garfein finally grew irritated with Spiegel's unexpected, angry appearances on the set, so he asked director George Stevens, who was obviously a heavier hitter than Jack Garfein, what he should do about it. Stevens' answer: throw Spiegel off the set! One day, Garfein, who had already learned how to be pushy from his experiences with Lee Strasberg, did exactly that, thus completely poisoning Spiegel against him. Spiegel ended up taking the film away from Garfein before he even had a chance to edit it and add a score. When several pivotal scenes dealing with homosexuality were removed by the censors, Garfein's original vision had been altered beyond recognition. "Sam's vengeance was long-lasting and far-reaching," Gazzara stated in his autobiography. "The Strange One was a good movie, very well made, but Jack's film career was hurt badly by his run-in with Sam. He messed with the wrong man, and it hurt all of us. Sam never promoted our movie. It was as though he wanted to do nothing to help Jack Garfein succeed. There was no publicity junket, no screenings for opinion-makers. I don't remember doing even one interview. There was a small ad in the New York Times and the movie opened at the Astor Theatre on Broadway to decent reviews, but business was soft. At the same time, though, it had opened to spectacular notices in London - for the movie, and particularly for my performance. Many people in England went to see it. But that didn't help any of us in the United States."
Bosley Crowther, the legendary critic for The New York Times, could well have pointed his finger directly at the censor's edits when describing The Strange One's failings: "The plot for corrupting one boy with a prostitute is sketched vaguely in a feeble scene wherein Julie Wilson ably plays a slack-jointed dame, and the suggestion of the homosexual angle, so strong in the play, is very cautiously hinted here." One is simply left to wonder how Gazzara and his fellow revolutionaries at the Actors Studio approached the material when they appeared in the uncensored play...and if Spiegel ever missed all those pricey cigars.
Producer: Sam Spiegel
Director: Jack Garfein
Screenplay: Calder Willingham (based on his novel and play, End as a Man)
Editor: Sidney Katz
Music: Kenyon Hopkins
Cinematography: Burnett Guffey
Art Direction: Joseph C. Wright
Sound: Edward J. Johnstone
Principal Cast: Ben Gazzara (Jocko De Paris), Pat Hingle (Harold Koble), Peter Mark Richman (Cadet Col. Corger), Arthur Storch (Simmons), Paul Richards (Perrin McKee), Larry Gates (Maj. Avery), Clifton James (Col. Ramsey), Geoffrey Horne (Georgie Avery), James Olson (Roger Gatt), Julie Wilson (Rosebud), George Peppard (Robert Marquales).
by Paul Tatara
The Strange One
The working titles of this film were End as a Man and The Young One. The opening and closing credits differ slightly in order. There are some significant differences between the film and its source material: In Calder Willingham's play and novel, it is established that Jocko de Paris is the son of a powerful man whose enmity is feared by school authorities. In both the play and the novel, the school authorities are responsible for ridding their institution of Jocko. In addition, the character of "Rosebud" does not appear in the play or the novel. According to the Daily Variety review, the PCA mandated that three minutes of footage dealing with homosexuality be deleted on the grounds that it "violated the rules banning sex perversion or any inference of it." The film's file in the MPAA/PCA COllection at the AMPAS Library contains no reference to those cuts, however. Although there is no overt reference to homosexuality, there is an undercurrent of homosexuality, which was also present in the play and novel, that runs throughout the film.
Although an August 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item adds Vergel Cook to the cast, his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. According to a July 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item, location shooting was done at Rollins College in Orlando, FL and at The Citadel in South Carolina and interiors were filmed at the Shamrock Studios in Winter Park, FL. Ben Gazzara, Arthur Storch, Pat Hingle and Paul E. Richards all reprised their Broadways roles for the film. The Strange One marked the film debuts of Gazzara, George Peppard, Geoffrey Horne and Julie Wilson, and the motion picture directorial debut of Jack Garfein, who directed the play on Broadway.
Released in United States 2012
Released in United States on Video October 14, 1997
Released in United States Spring May 1957
Film debuts for actors Ben Gazzara, George Peppard and Lou Antonio.
Released in United States 2012 (Shows - Spotlight: Jack Garfein)
Released in United States Spring May 1957
Released in United States on Video October 14, 1997