A Stranger in Town (1943)

Film Review


Release Date: April 1943

Studio: MGM

Director: Roy Rowland

Starring: Frank Morgan, Richard Carlson, Jean Rogers, Robert Barrett, Porter Hall

Related Discussion Topic: The 1943 Home Front

Read more about the 1943 Home Front in the Topics section.


Morgan, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, goes incognito on his vacation. A corrupt mayor (Barrett) runs the town in which he is staying. Carlson, a young lawyer, loses a case in which he is representing a farmer who will lose his farm because the bank will not give him an extension on his loan. The judge is an associate of Barrett. Carlson is half-heartedly running for mayor in opposition to Barrett. Morgan encourages Carlson to be more forceful in his opposition and to use the law more effectively. Rogers, Morgan's secretary, comes to assist him. Together they plan an effective legal attack on the corrupt mayor and his associates. In a dramatic moment in court, Morgan reveals that he is a Supreme Court justice. He makes speech about citizen responsibility to prevent electing corrupt politicians.


Frank Morgan (The Wizard in The Wizard of Oz) shows his serious persona, which had been mostly replaced by his dithering comic persona since the mid-thirties. Morgan and Carlson are supported by several familiar and reliable character actors, most prominently Robert Barrett and Porter Hall, but also Donald MacBride, Olin Howard, and Chill Wills.

In his first film, John Hodiak has a small role. Early the next year he was a prominent passenger on Hitchcock's Lifeboat (1944). The quality production values of this second-tier MGM film contrast with the cheap settings of the related Columbia Pictures programmer Power of the Press (also 1943).