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The Stranger's Return

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The Stranger's Return
Directed byKing Vidor
Written byPhilip Stong (novel/screenplay)
Brown Holmes
Produced byLucien Hubbard
StarringMiriam Hopkins
Lionel Barrymore
Franchot Tone
CinematographyWilliam H. Daniels
Edited byRichard Fantl
Ben Lewis
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • July 21, 1933 (1933-07-21)[1]
Running time
89 min.
CountryUnited States
Box office$630,000[2]

The Stranger's Return is a 1933 American Pre-Code drama film directed by King Vidor and starring Miriam Hopkins, Lionel Barrymore and Franchot Tone. It was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Miriam Hopkins was loaned out to MGM for the picture while under contract to Paramount.


Miriam Hopkins plays Louise Storr, a recently divorced New Yorker who travels west to Iowa to visit her paternal grandfather, a relation she has never met. Grandpa Storr (Lionel Barrymore) an 85-year-old patriarch, presides over his large farm and its employees. A number of distant relatives are long time residents in his household. They receive the city-girl granddaughter with reserved solicitude. Miriam meets the owner of the adjoining property, the married farmer Guy Crane (Franchot Tone), an Eastern-educated Iowan she finds attractive.

Grandfather Storr's unconcealed preference for his close blood-kin Louise creates tension in the household. She is tested by the resident relatives and farm hands in her performance of her duties on the spread. Her essential good sense and self-esteem serve her well, despite her urban upbringing.

Grandpa Storr, a military veteran of the Civil War, begins to display signs of dementia and the coterie of resident relatives quickly call for a mental evaluation to deem him legally unfit to operate the farm. The old man's apparent decent into madness is only a clever ruse to expose their avarice. He alters his will to disinherit the scheming relations and bequeaths the farm to Louise—the medical examiners acting as witnesses. His ultimate task in life completed, he dies peacefully.

Guy announces that he and his wife will be returning to his Alma mater back East where he will teach agriculture at the university. Louise assumes her position as owner and operator of her grandfather's farm, deeply committed to her ancestral land.



The New York Times called the film "a shrewd, delightful and altogether effective entertainment, with a hearty and brilliant performance by Lionel Barrymore as the season's liveliest octogenarian."[3] Variety declared it "an outstanding production from the three angles of story, production and acting, in spite of the, from some angles, unsatisfactory ending."[4] John Mosher of The New Yorker wrote a mixed review that faulted the plot: "Though the film is longish, too long, we want more explanations of the people than are given."[5] Harrison's Reports wrote that although the film "offers some good character studies, particularly the one portrayed by Lionel Barrymore as a self-willed old man, it is too slow for the masses," adding that it was difficult to sympathize with the love affair "because the hero is married to a very decent woman."[6]

Box office

The film grossed a total (domestic and foreign) of $630,000: $439,000 from the US and Canada and $191,000 elsewhere. It made a profit of $106,000.[2]


  1. ^ "The Stranger's Return". American Film Institute. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  3. ^ "Movie Review - The Stranger's Return". The New York Times. July 28, 1933. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  4. ^ "Film Reviews". Variety. New York: Variety, Inc. August 1, 1933. p. 14.
  5. ^ Mosher, John (August 5, 1933). "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker. New York: F-R Publishing Corp. p. 40.
  6. ^ "Stranger's Return". Harrison's Reports. August 5, 1933. p. 123.
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