Stranger in My Arms

A Stranger in My Arms (also known as And Ride a Tiger) is a 1959 CinemaScope drama film directed by Helmut Käutner and starring June Allyson, Jeff Chandler, Sandra Dee, Charles Coburn, Mary Astor and Peter Graves.[1][2]

A Stranger in My Arms
Directed byHelmut Kautner
Produced byRoss Hunter
Written byPeter Berneis
Based onAnd Ride a Tiger (novel)
by Robert Wilder
Music byJoseph Gershenson
CinematographyWilliam Daniels
Edited byFrank Gross
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • March 3, 1959 (1959-03-03) (United States)
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited States


A Korean War test pilot Major, Pike Yarnell (Jeff Chandler), survives a jet crash in the Pacific Ocean, as does his navigator Donald Beasley (Peter Graves). After 12 days on a raft, Donald dies, but Pike is rescued.

Christina (June Allyson), the dead officer's widow, waits for a full explanation of the circumstances of her husband's death, as do his wealthy Georgia parents and sister. Pike gives them very few details, however, particularly disturbing Virginie Beasley (Mary Astor), who wants a Congressman in the family to seek a Medal of Honor for her brave son.

Pike begins to develop feelings for Christina. He cannot bring himself to tell her that Donald was actually a poor officer and under investigation. During the ocean flight, his navigational mistake led to the crash. While on the raft, Donald proved to be a coward. Donald revealed near the end that he never loved his wife and hated his mother. Ultimately, he used Pike's gun to kill himself.



The film was based on the novel And Ride a Tiger by Robert Wilder, author of Written on the Wind. It was published in 1951. The New York Times said the book had "some dubious motivation" but was "so racily readable that you are not particularly bothered until you've stopped turning pages."[3]

Film rights were bought by Pamrick Productions, the company of star June Allyson and her husband, former actor turned producer and director, Dick Powell. They announced they would make the film in 1956 with financing through RKO Studios.[4][5]

RKO ceased functioning as a financier of films, however, and the project transferred over to producer Ross Hunter at Universal-International, who had enjoyed a big hit with Written on the Wind (1956). Allyson was still attached as star but the director was Helmut Kautner, who had just made The Restless Years (1958) for Universal. Jeff Chandler was given the male lead.[6]

The film's cast also included Mary Astor and Sandra Dee, the latter having just signed a long term contract with Universal. Filming started December 1957.[7]

Principal photography on A Stranger in My Arms took place from late November 1958 to early January 1959.[8] The aircraft used included: Lockheed T-33, Lockheed P-80A Shooting Star, North American CB-25J Mitchell and North American F-86A Sabre.[9]


Film critic Bosley Crowther reviewed A Stranger in My Arms for The New York Times. He noted: "A selfish, possessive mother is the squeaky hub around which turns a small wheel of conventional drama in "Stranger in My Arms," a Universal-International picture that came to the Odeon yesterday. And a peevish and snarling Mary Astor turns up in the role. The accompanying emotional rotation, which is conspicuously ponderous and slow, is flattering neither to Miss Astor nor to the common concept of Mom."[10]

See also



  1. "Review: 'A Stranger in My Arms'." FilmAffinity. Retrieved: April 30, 2017.
  2. Paris 1995, p. 181.
  3. "Death Of a Hero." The New York Times, October 28, 1951, p. 176.
  4. "Hughes buys back films." Los Angeles Times, January 6, 1956, p. B6.
  5. Pryor, Thomas M. "Special to The New York Times; Republic plans 5 new pictures: Studio's activity mounts as stories are assigned to total of 11 scenarists; Powell-Allyson schedule of local origin." The New York Times, January 11, 1956, p. 37.
  6. Schallert, Edwin. "British want Howard Keel: Million-Five deal heralded for Granger for six pictures." Los Angeles Times, November 5, 1957, p. C9.
  7. Pryor, Thomas M. "Allied acquires share in 12 films: Studio and two independent producers sign pacts; U-1 to star Chandler." The New York Times, November 5, 1957, p. 39.
  8. "Original print information: 'A Stranger in my Arms'." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: April 30, 2017.
  9. Santoir, Christian. "Stranger in my Arms." Aeromovies. Retrieved: April 30, 2017.
  10. Crowther, Bosley. "Movie review: 'Stranger in My Arms.' (1959)" The New York Times, March 4, 1959. Retrieved: April 30, 2017.


  • Paris, Michael. From the Wright Brothers to Top Gun: Aviation, Nationalism, and Popular Cinema. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1995. ISBN 978-0-7190-4074-0.
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