A Stranger Came Home
A poster for the film bearing its American title: The Unholy Four
Directed byTerence Fisher
Written byMichael Carreras
Based onStranger at Home by George Sanders
Produced byMichael Carreras
StarringPaulette Goddard
William Sylvester
Patrick Holt
CinematographyWalter J. Harvey
Edited byBill Lenny
Music byLeonard Salzedo
Distributed by
Release date
9 August 1954
Running time
80 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office11,349 admissions (France)[1]

A Stranger Came Home (U.S. title: The Unholy Four; also known as The Stranger) is a 1954 British film noir directed by Terence Fisher and starring Paulette Goddard, William Sylvester and Patrick Holt.[2] It is based on the 1946 novel Stranger at Home, credited to actor George Sanders but ghostwritten by Leigh Brackett.[3] The film was released in the United States by Lippert Pictures.


Four friends go on a fishing trip but only three return. After an absence of four years, during which time he had been an amnesiac, the fourth man, Philip Vickers, returns home after regaining his memory. He tells of a "friend" who knocked him out, drugged him, and left him to die. Any one of the remaining men could be a suspect as Job Crandall, Bill Saul and Harry Bryce have all been interested in Philip's attractive 'widow', Angie. Unfortunately, Philip's return coincides with a murder and he becomes the main suspect. Angie joins forces with her husband to help solve the mystery and clear his name.


Paulette Goddard in a publicity shot for A Stranger Came Home.


The film was produced by Hammer Films at Bray Studios in Berkshire.[4] with sets designed by the art director J. Elder Wills.

Critical reception

The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote: "This confused and unconvincing murder mystery is so spattered with red herrings as to be almost incomprehensible. Paulette Goddard works hard; but for the most part the acting is little superior to the material."[5]

The New York Times wrote, "A THIRD-RATE British-made whodunit called The Unholy Four, featuring Paulette Goddard and a nondescript cast ... A few more fly-by-nights like this Lippert presentation, produced and written by Michael Carreras, and the still-shapely Miss Goddard may find herself collecting the pieces of a career."[6]

Leonard Maltin called it "Muddled."[7]

Allmovie called it a "suspenseful drama."[8]

In British Sound Films: The Studio Years 1928–1959 David Quinlan rated the film as "average", writing: "Strength of character sees well-worn, fairly suspenseful thriller through."[9]


  1. ^ Box office information for Terence Fisher films in France at Box office Story
  2. ^ "A Stranger Came Home". British Film Institute Collections Search. Retrieved 31 January 2024.
  3. ^ Allen Eyles. "The Stranger Came Home". RadioTimes.
  4. ^ Howard Maxford (8 November 2019). Hammer Complete: The Films, the Personnel, the Company. McFarland. pp. 70–71. ISBN 978-1-4766-2914-8.
  5. ^ "A Stranger Came Home". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 21 (240): 136. 1 January 1954 – via ProQuest.
  6. ^ "Movie Review - Stranger Came Home - The Screen in Review; 'Unholy Four' Followed on the Palace Bill by 'A Street Cat Named Sylvester'". The New York Times. 23 March 2023.
  7. ^ "The Unholy Four (1954) - Overview - TCM.com". Turner Classic Movies.
  8. ^ "The Unholy Four (1954) - Trailers, Reviews, Synopsis, Showtimes and Cast - AllMovie". AllMovie.
  9. ^ Quinlan, David (1984). British Sound Films: The Studio Years 1928–1959. London: B.T. Batsford Ltd. p. 381. ISBN 0-7134-1874-5.