New York Times - 07/02/2009
"THE STRANGE ONE is an allegorical indictment of fascism..."
Marking the beginnings of the raw intensity he's explored throughout his provocative film career, veteran actor Ben Gazzara makes his movie debut in this 1957 drama as the menacingly effeminate misanthrope Jocko de Paris. THE STRANGE ONE, a dark and deviant depiction of human behavior that's especially startling for its time, follows military-school student de Paris's prolonged and eccentrically sadistic bullying of his fellow cadets in the aftermath of an incident in which he got the son of an executive officer expelled for drunkenness. The troubled de Paris uses any and all forms of humiliation and mental terrorization to silence his peers until he eventually finds his power challenged by a group of underclassmen. Based on a play by Calder Willingham, this film version of A STRANGE ONE was forced by the strict MPAA rules of the 1950s to tone down its homosexual themes, though certain suggestions remain palpable.
Legendary actor Ben Gazzara made his feature film debut in The Strange One, recreating his Broadway role in Calder Willingham's gripping "End as a Man." Gazzara stars as Cadet Sgt. Jocko DeParis, a sadomasochistic bully in a Southern military academy who uses his magnetism and the school's own military code to manipulate his fellow cadets and officers. When he engineers the expulsion of a hated rival, his reign of terror begins to unravel. The film features a solid cast drawn from The Actor's Studio in New York, including Pat Hingle, Mark Richman, George Peppard (also in his film debut) and Larry Gates, and is directed by Jack Garfein and scripted by Willingham, based on his novel. Censored in its original theatrical release for its homosexual undertones, The Strange One is presented restored and uncut for the first time on DVD.
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