Sunday, September 24, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Love With the Proper Stranger (1963) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Two megawatt stars, Steve McQueen and Natalie Wood, star in LOVE WITH THE PROPER STRANGER (1963), just released on Blu-ray and DVD by Kino Lorber.

As the film begins, Rocky (McQueen) is confronted by Angie (Wood), a woman he scarcely remembers, with the news that she's pregnant with his baby.

In the ensuing days the couple slowly get to know one another as they decide how to deal with their situation. Rocky is a frequently unemployed musician, irresponsible but ultimately goodhearted; it's possible that being shocked into thinking about someone else will be the making of him. Angie, meanwhile, is afraid to step out from under the shadow of her controlling mother (Penny Santon) and three brothers (Herschel Bernardi, Harvey Lembeck, and E. Nick Alexander), who want the best for her but follow her every move.

It's tremendously enjoyable watching McQueen and Wood as their characters inch toward both a relationship and newfound maturity; Angie learns how to be independent while Rocky learns that commitment isn't as scary as he'd once thought. The actors have great chemistry and are always fascinating to watch, with much of their performances being nonverbal. Wood, incidentally, received her third Oscar nomination for this film.

I like the way the film balances tackling some tough subject matter regarding the unplanned pregnancy with positive themes about growth, commitment, and responsibility leading to personal happiness. The film gets quite dark midway through, with a horrific visit to an abortionist, but it's ultimately an uplifting movie.

LOVE WITH THE PROPER STRANGER was directed by Robert Mulligan and filmed by Milton R. Krasner. It runs 102 minutes.

I previously reviewed this film after watching a TV airing in 2010. In the years since, I watched for a DVD release to no avail; if I'm correct, this is the film's first release since VHS.

The Kino Lorber Blu-ray offers a beautiful newly remastered widescreen black and white print. Fans of this film should by all means make haste to pick it up, and those who are new to the movie will want to check it out as well. It's a very good, worthwhile film featuring two true movie stars who left us all too soon.

Extras include three trailers and, more significantly, a commentary track by Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan, new names to me. I thought the track was good, covering quite a bit of ground including comparisons to Italian "neorealism," the real-life history of the geographic area where the "doctor" sequence was filmed, how the film broke new ground in regard to Production Code restrictions, and much more.

One more fun "plus" is that the Blu-ray case cover art can be removed and flipped over, providing a choice of two different cover images.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger Raquel Stecher said...

I'm not a big Natalie Wood fan but I found this to be one of the most enjoyable of her films. And you are so right about the McQueen-Wood chemistry. They worked great together. Great review Laura!

10:15 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Raquel,

Thanks so much for sharing your endorsement of the movie, I really enjoy it and would love for more people to check it out. I'm glad to know you liked it too! And thanks for the nice feedback on the review, greatly appreciate it!

Best wishes,

10:45 AM  
Blogger Sharon said...

I've just recently discovered your blog, and look forward to reading more of your reviews. This film is one of my top favorites. I particularly love the part where Rocky rescues Angie from the abortionist, and cradles her in his arms on the cab ride back.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you, Sharon! I agree, that sequence is excellent, especially after what's gone before.

I hope you'll enjoy visiting my blog again!

Best wishes,

8:35 AM  

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