I’m continuing my look at the recently released Hammer films on Blu-ray with the latest boxset from Powerhouse Films. The film I’m reviewing here is the last of those and is the sinister Never Take Sweets from a Stranger which deals with the uncomfortable subject of child abuse. So without further ado here’s my Never Take Sweets from a Stranger Blu-ray Review.
- Never Take Sweets from a Stranger (1960) aka Never Take Candy from a Stranger
- Genre: Thriller
- Running Time: 81 Mins
- UK Rating 12
- Discs: 1
- Released By Powerhouse Films aka Indicator
- Blu-ray Released: 19th February 2018
The Carter family consisting of Peter and Sally Carter and their nine year old daughter Jean move to a small town in Canada where Peter is to take up the position of school principal.
Jean makes friends with local girl Lucille and they play together. Following this Jean returns home restless and when asked what is wrong reveals a disturbing encounter in which she and Lucille had with Clarence Olderberry Sr over at his house. He asked them to do something she now finds deeply uncomfortable and was given sweets for doing so.
Style / Direction
The film is directed by Cyril Frankel with the cinematography handled by Freddie Francis. It’s shot in black and white and makes good use of a varied set of locations including woodlands, river and a courtroom setting. What’s more it’s really well made with the pacing excellent especially as the film builds to its uncomfortable climax.
Music / Audio Effects
The music is provided by Elisabeth Lutyens and seems right for the tone and era.
Acting / Characters
The acting is pretty good with the young daughter Jean played by Janina Faye putting a very believable performance in a film with a troubling subject matter.
Patrick Allen as Peter the father is a strong character that is at times reluctant to act before becoming determined not to allow the perpetrator of the crime to get away with it. Yet it is the mother Gwen Watford as Sally Carter whom really drives the film along refusing to allow the alleged disturbing act against her daughter and her friend to pass without justice prevailing.
Felix Aylmer plays Clarence Olderberry Sr the films bad guy who is essentially an elderly paedophile that has absolutely no dialogue. This is obviously a difficult role to take on and one that is cast well. That said I’m pretty sure many other actors would have turned down this role due to the subject matter.
- Patrick Allen as Peter Carter
- Gwen Watford as Sally Carter
- Janina Faye as Jean Carter
- Frances Green as Lucille
- Felix Aylmer as Clarence Olderberry Sr.
- Bill Nagy as Clarence Olderberry Jr.
- Alison Leggatt as Martha
- Niall MacGinnis as Defense Counsel
- Michael Gwynn as Prosecutor
Conclusion – Never Take Sweets from a Stranger Film Review
The title, Never Take Sweets from a Stranger, kind of tells you what the film is about. It’s a deeply disturbing subject matter of an old man getting his kicks from requesting children do certain acts for his gratification.
Whilst all of this is merely suggested and not shown it still creates a deeply disturbing feeling. This is certainly one of Hammer’s lesser known films and one I had never seen before. I can only assume the subject matter being so sensitive is the real reason this one is seldom shown on television.
That said with all of the recent revelation of well known paedophile cases from some high profile celebrities Never Take Sweets from a Stranger is an even more relevant film. The film depicts how a small community refuses to support the case against a highly influential family out of fear of the repercussions against them, thus allowing a man whom should be behind bars to continue to carry out his fantasies freely.
I’m surprised in many ways that this film ever got made and even more surprised it bears the Hammer name. A film all about child abuse is hardly what you expected from Hammer and yet I’d have to say I think they actually made a film that is sensitively done. It’s not a film you enjoy but is compelling viewing and one that sends out a powerful message.
If you like my Never Take Sweets from a Stranger Blu-ray Review you may want to check out these films:
- Hammer Volume One Fear Warning Boxset Review
- Cash on Demand (1961)
- The Snorkel (1958)
- The Full Treatment (1960) Blu-ray Review
- Torture Garden (1967) Blu-ray Review
- Fear in the Night (1972)
Never Take Sweets from a Stranger Blu-ray Review
The picture quality on this new version of Never Take Sweets from a Stranger (1960) is excellent, the picture is clean and sharp, flawless in fact.
On the extras front there is another excellent set of interviews with the must see feature being “Conspiracy Theories: Inside Never Take Sweets from a Stranger” in which Jonathan Rigby, John J Johnston and BFI curator Josephine Botting provide plenty of interesting facts regarding the background and making of the film. These three never fail to provide an interesting insight into any Hammer film.
- Alternative US Version
- Conspiracy Theories: Inside “Never Take Sweets from a Stranger (2018) (25 mins)
- Hammer’s Women: Gwen Watfrod (2018) (8 mins)
- Interview with Janina Faye (2018) (15 mins)
- An Appreciation by Matthew Holness (2018) (12 mins)
- The Perfect Horror Chord (2018) (44 mins)
- US Theatrical Trailer
- Image Gallery
- Limited Edtion 40 page booklet
- Reversible Sleeve
On to my movie rating for Never Take Sweets from a Stranger (1960)
- Movie Rating: WELL WORTH WATCHING
- Blu-ray Picture: EXCELLENT
- Extras: EXCELLENT
Never Take Sweets from a Stranger (1960) is available now on Blu-ray.
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For those of you yet to see the film I’ll leave you with a little taster…
Clip may not be representative of the Blu-ray version
So that’s my Never Take Sweets from a Stranger Blu-ray review, if you have any thoughts on this film you can leave them in the comment section below:
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Never Take Sweets from a Stranger (1960) Blu-ray Review
Director(s): Cyril Frankel
Actor(s): Patrick Allen, Gwen Watford, Felix Aylmer
- Movie Rating
- Blu-ray Picture Rating
A deeply disturbing subject matter that’s dealt with sensitivity.