A Stranger in My Arms (1959)

88 mins | Melodrama | February 1959

Full page view
HISTORY

The working title of this film was And Ride a Tiger . During the first half hour of A Stranger in My Arms , details about “Pike Yarnell’s” raft ride and “Donald Beasely’s” death are revealed sporadically through flashbacks. According to Nov 1957 "Rambling Reporter" items in HR , Ruth Gordon, Lynn Fontanne and Mildred Dunnock were considered for roles in the film. The HR review noted that Mary Astor's autobiography was published at the same time as the movie's opening, garnering additional publicity for ... More Less

The working title of this film was And Ride a Tiger . During the first half hour of A Stranger in My Arms , details about “Pike Yarnell’s” raft ride and “Donald Beasely’s” death are revealed sporadically through flashbacks. According to Nov 1957 "Rambling Reporter" items in HR , Ruth Gordon, Lynn Fontanne and Mildred Dunnock were considered for roles in the film. The HR review noted that Mary Astor's autobiography was published at the same time as the movie's opening, garnering additional publicity for each. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
19 Jan 1959.
---
Daily Variety
12 Mar 59
p. 3.
Film Daily
13 Jan 59
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Nov 1957
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Nov 1957
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Nov 1957
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Dec 1957
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Dec 1957
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jan 1958
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Dec 1958
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jan 59
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
17 Oct 59
p. 116.
New York Times
4 Mar 59
p. 34.
Variety
11 Mar 59
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Asst cam
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
Ward
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Dial coach
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel And Ride a Tiger by Robert Wilder (New York, 1951).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
And Ride a Tiger
Release Date:
February 1959
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Atlanta, GA, Nashville, TN and Birmingham, AL: 4 February 1959
Production Date:
late November 1958--early January 1959
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Co., inc.
Copyright Date:
21 December 1958
Copyright Number:
LP14132
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Duration(in mins):
88
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18934
SYNOPSIS

During the Korean War, Air Force test pilot Maj. Pike Yarnell and navigator Donald Beasley survive a plane crash in the Pacific Ocean, but before they can be rescued, they spend twelve days floating in a raft, during which Donald dies. Upon his return to America, Pike flies recklessly, forcing his superior, Col. Bert Wayne, to ground him and question his ongoing depression. Pike responds that he need only obey orders, not reveal his troubles, and then reluctantly agrees to attend Donald’s memorial in Georgia. Inside the hangar, Pike is disturbed to find Donald’s widow Christina, whose letter asking for details of the accident he has ignored. Christina now asks Pike to visit her and Donald’s parents, Harley and Virginie, after the memorial, but he curtly refuses. That night, Pike combs through Donald’s dog tags, will and photo of Christina, which he hides in his drawer, and recalls their first days on the raft: Donald, a troublemaking soldier whom Pike had been assigned to retrieve from Japan, made a navigational error that caused their crash but now denounces Pike for their troubles. Fearing that they will never be rescued, Donald attempts to kill himself by attracting a shark, obliging Pike to save his life. In the present, Pike’s tormented memories keep him from sleeping. At the Beasley estate in Georgia on the day of the memorial, Harley encourages Christina to move out instead of staying on the secluded estate to care for Virginie, but Christina demurs. Virginie, who claims to be invalid in order to keep Christina close to her, later implies that her grief is stronger than Christina’s, who was married to Donald for only six weeks before ... +


During the Korean War, Air Force test pilot Maj. Pike Yarnell and navigator Donald Beasley survive a plane crash in the Pacific Ocean, but before they can be rescued, they spend twelve days floating in a raft, during which Donald dies. Upon his return to America, Pike flies recklessly, forcing his superior, Col. Bert Wayne, to ground him and question his ongoing depression. Pike responds that he need only obey orders, not reveal his troubles, and then reluctantly agrees to attend Donald’s memorial in Georgia. Inside the hangar, Pike is disturbed to find Donald’s widow Christina, whose letter asking for details of the accident he has ignored. Christina now asks Pike to visit her and Donald’s parents, Harley and Virginie, after the memorial, but he curtly refuses. That night, Pike combs through Donald’s dog tags, will and photo of Christina, which he hides in his drawer, and recalls their first days on the raft: Donald, a troublemaking soldier whom Pike had been assigned to retrieve from Japan, made a navigational error that caused their crash but now denounces Pike for their troubles. Fearing that they will never be rescued, Donald attempts to kill himself by attracting a shark, obliging Pike to save his life. In the present, Pike’s tormented memories keep him from sleeping. At the Beasley estate in Georgia on the day of the memorial, Harley encourages Christina to move out instead of staying on the secluded estate to care for Virginie, but Christina demurs. Virginie, who claims to be invalid in order to keep Christina close to her, later implies that her grief is stronger than Christina’s, who was married to Donald for only six weeks before his death. At the memorial, Christina spots Pike, causing her to falter in her speech. Virginie, taking note of her discomfort, takes over the sermon, and her praise of her son’s bravery prompts Pike to remember Donald’s cowardly despair during their days on the raft. After the service, Donald’s wild younger sister Pat approaches Pike, who takes her to the local soda shop to discuss the family. Pat senses Pike’s attraction to Christina but still flirts with him, hoping to appear mature. At Virginie's insistence, Christina locates Pike and invites him home, and he urges her to admit that she, as well as her in-laws, want him to come. Meanwhile, Harley appeals to Virginie to “let go of” Donald, but she vows to obtain for her son the Congressional Medal of Honor, knowing this will require that Pike vouch for Donald’s extreme heroism. To that end, she calls her father-in-law, congressman Vance Beasley, to invite him to visit and bribe Pike for to testify that Donald acted heroically. Christina, Pat and Pike show up for tea, at which Pike tries to deflect the family’s questions about Donald’s last days. Virginie maneuvers to be alone with Pike to ask him about Donald’s valor, and when Christina later interrupts, Virginie’s domineering attitude causes Christina to flee outside, followed by Pike. Taking refuge under a tree, they wonder what Virginie is scheming, and despite Pike’s insulting assertion that Christina did not really love Donald, she asks him to stay in Georgia. Drawn to her, he consents, and the next day kisses her after a horseback ride. At dinner that night, Vance questions Pike about Donald. Pike once again recalls the days on the raft: Donald, half mad with thirst and fear, declares he married Christina only to defy his controlling mother, who despised Christina’s lower social standing. Drawn out of his reverie by Vance’s assertion that Donald should receive the Medal of Honor, Pike angrily responds that the award is given only to the most outstanding soldiers. Vance offers Pike money to testify, causing the major to leave in anger. Christina follows and pleads for him to forgive them, but Pike believes that she was complicit in Virginie’s plan. In response, Christina wonders why Donald, a champion swimmer, drowned on the raft while Pike survived. Pike explodes in anger, stating that Donald did not deserve a Medal of Honor, Christina is letting Virginie make her “a living monument" to her son, and Donald married her only to spite his mother. When Christina runs to Virginie demanding the truth, the dowager proclaims that she was against the marriage because it took Donald away from her. Christina subsequently moves into Pike’s hotel, where they apologize to each other. Over coffee, Christina reveals that though she loved Donald, he could never return her passion, and her guilt over “failing him” has caused her to remain ensconced with his family. Pike tries to hold back his feelings for Christina but, overwhelmed, kisses her. At the hotel entrance Pat informs them that the Beasleys await them inside, and they agree to confront them. When Christine lashes out at Virginie for destroying Donald, Virginie collapses and Christina rushes to her aid. Pike accuses her of feigning the collapse, and in response to Virginie’s assertion that Donald loved only her, reveals that Donald did not drown. Although Pike then regrets his honesty and lies that he killed Donald, Christina urges him to tell the truth, and Pike recalls Donald’s death: After eight days without water, Donald writes a will and, crazed, accuses Pike of having power over him because of the gun he carries. Disgusted, Pike hands Donald the gun, and although Donald considers shooting Pike, instead he kills himself. Pike now hands the will to Harley, admitting that since that day he has regretted giving Donald his gun. Christina embraces him but, when Virginie declares her intent to accuse Pike of murder if Christina leaves, Christina considers staying to save Pike from Virginie’s vengeance. In response, Harley tells Virginie that he will leave her, taking Pat, if she persists, and shows her Donald’s will, which proclaims his hatred for his mother. When Virginie breaks down in tears, finally vulnerable, Harley promises to help her move on. As Virignie returns his embrace, Christina turns to Pike. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

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.