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Love With The Proper Stranger(1963)



An erratically employed musician learns that a Macy's salesgirl he doesn't remember is expecting his baby. The couple get to know one another as they try to decide how to deal with the situation, and eventually both wonder if perhaps they've found LOVE WITH THE PROPER STRANGER.Rocky (Steve McQueen) and Angie (Natalie Wood) are nice kids who both have some growing up to do. Rocky has been a commitment-shy ladies' man who doesn't put much effort into relationships, whether it's the sort-of girlfriend he lives with (Edie Adams) or his parents, whom he doesn't see often. Angie, on the other hand, is being suffocated by her mother and three brothers, who track her every move and try to plan her love life. She longs to move out and have some independence.It's an interesting and absorbing film as Rocky and Angie wrestle with the consequences of their past and current choices, develop into more mature people, and inch toward a relationship with one another. The situation shocks Rocky into acting like a responsible adult who cares about someone else's feelings, while Angie, having faced up to the situation with her family, spreads her wings and rents her own apartment for the first time. The two leads are excellent; they are both very expressive, and much of their communication is nonverbal. Wood was nominated for Best Actress for this film. The supporting cast includes Tom Bosley, in his film debut, as the man Angie's brothers want her to date. Angie's brothers are portrayed by Herschel Bernardi, Harvey Lembeck, and E. Nick Alexander, with Penny Santon playing her mother. A nice touch: in the background in the Rossini home are portraits of Natalie Wood as a little girl.The movie has a great sense of style. It was filmed on location in New York, in beautiful black and white, by Milton Krasner. Krasner received one of the film's five Oscar nominations. Edith Head was also nominated, for best costume design; Angie certainly had a beautiful wardrobe for a shopgirl on a budget. Her coats are gorgeous, and the black dress she wears in the next-to-last scene is a knockout. The film was also nominated for Art Direction and Writing. The score is by Elmer Bernstein, who cowrote the title song with Johnny Mercer.LOVE WITH THE PROPER STRANGER was directed by Robert Mulligan, who had directed TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962) immediately prior to making this film. It's rather surprising that this movie isn't yet available on DVD. It has been released on VHS.This film can also be seen on Turner Classic Movies.LOVE WITH THE PROPER STRANGER takes tough subject matter, including the possibility of abortion, and turns it into a positive story of growth, maturity, and commitment -- and happiness too. A very enjoyable film.September 2017 Update: This film has now been released on DVD and Blu-ray by Kino Lorber. My review of the Blu-ray may be found here.




Love with the Proper Stranger(1963)



Scene shift, Scene shift, Scene shift, Scene shift. Rocky visits Angie at her job at Macys and after some small talk, she invites him to dinner at her apartment. He arrives at the apartment and begins to make out with Angie. Angie stops him and tells him that when they first had sex, she didn't know him and he meant nothing serious to her. But now, she tells him, she does know him and has feelings of affection for him [even though he is a bum - my edit] and so she doesn't want to engage in loveless sex with him. He again offers to marry her but she throws him out of the apartment.


Trivia:The last day of filming was also the day Natalie Wood and then newcomer Warren Beatty ended their two-year affair. Natalie Wood said that working on this film was "the most rewarding experience I had in all films, all the way around."Unclear whether this is a bizarre coincidence or inside joke, but when the character played by Natalie Wood is taking a taxi home from the abortionist, it passes a large billboard mentioning New York Mayor Robert Wagner. Robert Wagner, of course, was also the name of Wood's former (and future) husband Robert Wagner.Film debut of Tom Bosley.In the opening scenes of the movie you hear Rocky Papasano's full name called out over the loudspeaker just before he meets Angela in the crowd. Papasano is a made-up Italian surname.In the opening scene, the booking agent asks Rocky if he "wants a wedding," meaning does Rocky want a paying gig. But the question "do you want a wedding" also foreshadows what Rocky struggles with later in the film.Natalie Wood's early film "Miracle on 34th Street" also centered on Macy's department store.Because of the subject matter, this was a strange movie to release on Christmas Day 1963.The Rossini family is ethnic Italian. Angie Rossini is portrayed by Natalie Wood, who is ethnic Russian. Dominick Rossini and Julio Rossini are portrayed respectively by Herschel Bernardi and Harvey Lembeck, who are both ethnic Jewish.Connections:Referenced in Murder, She Wrote: The Search for Peter Kerry (1989)The Prisoner of Zenda (1937) - mentioned at least twice, once by Natalie Wood and once by Steve McQueenThe Outlaw (1943) - Steve McQueen mentions Jane Russell and Billy the Kid.The Lawrence Welk Show (1955) (TV Series)- Rocky's friend mentions that he thought he saw Rocky on the show.Alex notes that this movie is playing while he is reading the newspaper.Title Reference - The Cavanaughs: Love with an Improper Stranger (1986) (TV Episode) Title reference - Murder, She Wrote: The Search for Peter Kerry (1989) (TV Episode) - Edie Lorraine complains that she had to watch this movie on the television in the bar since there were apparently no other TV sets in Andrew Kerry's house.


When Angie Rossini (Natalie Wood) finds out she's pregnant, she tracks down Rocky Papasano (Steve McQueen) the musician with whom she had a one night stand. Angie works a sales clerk in a department store and comes from a close knit Italian family where her brothers keep a close eye on her. The two really don't know one another but Rocky agrees to arrange for her to have an abortion but when he sees the conditions under which it will be performed, he gets her out of there. Faced with his situation, Rocky asks Angie to marry him but she seems uninterested, especially since he sounds like he's taking a dose of bad medicine, and turns to a lovelorn suitor, Anthony, as a solution to her situation. Rocky continues to try and see her however and it soon becomes apparent that she also has another plan.


Indeed, both Wood and McQueen undergo significant character arcs in this film, with time and space given in the pacing of the screenplay to show the inner shifts occurring for each of them. McQueen is at first presented as a self-absorbed hustler living with an equally narcissistic showgirl (Edie Adams) whose apartment is littered with evidence of her love for herself (and her dogs):


*57 Dr. Fortuin said also that Vigliano was born to violence; both parents were explosive and violent in their outbursts of rage. He had extreme double feelings of both hate and love toward his parents, fragmentation of thought processes, inability to think through problems in an abstract way, a paranoid attitude toward teachers, toward bosses, toward his parents, and "he certainly suggested a schizophrenic process during the treatment period." A schizophrenic process was described as progressive, being characterized by a shut-in personality, over-attachment, and at the same time a latent hostility to parents, delusions usually of a persecutory nature, of being watched, being plotted against, together with a blunting of ability to experience and feel properly in response to situations. Such people would laugh at funerals; cry at weddings. As a result they cannot use their intellectual ability, and they get a certain degree of breaking up of their thought processes.


In the trial judge's lengthy charge to the jury, he read the indictment and said the defendant not only denied killing his mother but defended also on the ground that if he did kill her, he was legally insane when the act was committed. Then he told them the indictment had no probative value on the issue of guilt or innocence; he instructed them on the State's burden of proof and the nature of the defendant's burden with respect to the defense of insanity; he defined reasonable doubt and discussed their duty with respect to factual issues and their determination; he advised as to their duty in considering defendant's alleged confessions. Then he defined first and second degree murder and eliminated the crime of manslaughter from their consideration as a possible verdict. (We agree that manslaughter was properly excluded. State v. King, 37 N.J. 285 (1962).) In particular, he explained the nature of the intent to commit first degree murder, i.e., that there must be premeditation, deliberation and willfulness, and he also explained the nature of the intent as to *61 second degree murder. Next he instructed them on the question of punishment if they found defendant guilty of murder in the first degree. Specifically, he told them such a verdict would mean death for the defendant unless, after a consideration of all the evidence, they recommended life imprisonment.


The charge as we have outlined it was so constructed, through inadvertence of course, as to de-emphasize the issue of insanity. The repetition of the four possible verdicts and the very short treatment of legal insanity, with no discussion of the factual material on which the defense was based except for a terse statement of the conflicting conclusions of the psychiatrists, failed to give proper weight to the defense of insanity; *64 further the inadequacy of that part of the charge made the instructions on punishment particularly prejudicial since they imposed limitations on the jury's consideration of important and pertinent aspects of the defense on which the defendant was entitled to place reliance. 041b061a72


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