The Stranger Within
A pregnant woman begins to act strangely leaving her to believe that he baby is "special".
Spoiler Level: None
Artist, Ann Collins (Barbara Eden) and her husband, David (George Grizzard) find out they are going to be parents, but this causes issues within their relationship. First off, Ann almost died when she lost a child during a risky pregnancy three years earlier, spurning David to get a vasectomy, meaning, he could not be the father, introducing problem number two. Ann swears she has remained faithful, but no one really believes her. David remains, and the couple decide to terminate the pregnancy, but with every attempt they try Ann becomes violently ill. David and Ann’s doctor believe this is all in her mind, adding another level of complexity to the couple’s strained relationship. As her pregnancy progresses stranger and stranger things begin to occur. Ann’s personality nearly splits in two, with the loving caring Ann slowly being replaced by a cold and cruel Ann. Her salt intake skyrockets, and she can’t seem to get enough scalding hot coffee, drinking it without even letting it cool down. She also has bouts of miraculous healing. The couple’s friend, Bob (David Doyle) who is a trained hypnotist, puts Ann under and with the hypnosis it is revealed who and what the real father is. Can Ann and David survive this pregnancy? Watch and find out!
Movies like this rely heavily on the performances of their cast, and this movie had a relatively small one. With Ann and David, their two friend’s and Ann’s Doctor being the only true characters of interest. The performances overall were good, with Barbara Eden doing a great job as the troubled mother-to-be. She really had to play two characters, the loving wife Ann and the mean and cruel Ann who is obsessed with books. George Grizzard’s David was also very good, playing a husband who believes his wife has been unfaithful and yet he loves her enough to stay. David appropriately gets frustrated about the change in his wife’s personality, which morphs into concern as he begins to realize something isn’t right with the baby Ann is carrying. I will say, that this film is a product of its time with David being somewhat of an overbearing, stereotypical husband of the time. The supporting cast is also adequate, I like David Doyle’s Bob, who is the first to believe what Ann says under hypnosis.
This television movie premiered on ABC’s Movie of the Week on October 1, 1974. It was written by Richard Matheson and based on his own novelette that he wrote in 1953 called Trespass. The timing of this film capitalized on the popularity of Rosemary’s Baby but with a “Matheson” science fiction twist. Although this is a science fiction thriller, there is little use of special effects leaving a lot of that to our imagination which in this case benefited the production. The music was by Charles Fox and adds great ambiance and appropriate tone to every scene. The story is interesting but does move kind of slow for today’s audience but was a common pace for the early 70s. The script is well written, and the dialogue felt natural and never forced, with Matheson’s writing making up for the slower pace of the film so you are never bored. The twist at the end is fun and I was not expecting it.
This is one of the better ABC Movie of the Weeks. I love Matheson's stories and this one has a great twist.
The Stranger Within is available on DVD and can also be found on You Tube.
Movie of the Week: The Stranger Within
- Writing - 8/108/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Acting - 8/108/10
- Music - 9/109/10
- Production - 8/108/10
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