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Strangers When We Meet
Strangers When We Meet
Actors: Kirk Douglas, Kim Novak, Ernie Kovacs, Barbara Rush, Walter Matthau
Director: Richard Quine
Genres: Classics, Drama
UR     2005     1hr 57min

No Description Available. Genre: Feature Film-Drama Rating: UN Release Date: 6-JUN-2006 Media Type: DVD


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Movie Details

Actors: Kirk Douglas, Kim Novak, Ernie Kovacs, Barbara Rush, Walter Matthau
Director: Richard Quine
Creators: Charles Lang, Richard Quine, Charles Nelson, Evan Hunter
Genres: Classics, Drama
Sub-Genres: Classics, Love & Romance
Studio: Columbia / Sony Pictures
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 02/22/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 57min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English
Subtitles: Japanese

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Movie Reviews

A Fabulous Motion Picture (From First Scene To Last)
David Von Pein | Mooresville, Indiana; USA | 07/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Strangers When We Meet" (1960) is simply a magnificent movie. In this reviewer's opinion, the acting performances from every single member of this first-rate cast are brilliant -- from Kirk Douglas to Kim Novak to Ernie Kovacs to Walter Matthau. They are each just perfect here. Also keep an eye peeled for Sue Ane Langdon, who pops up in a brief cameo role.

And I certainly don't want to leave out Barbara Rush, who gives a knockout portrayal of Douglas' wife. Rush's final emotion-filled scenes in the film are literally worth a replay every time this movie is watched.

Walter Matthau's role in the film is fairly small, but powerful. Walter is thoroughly repulsive here as an aggressively-lecherous, scheming, and oversexed neighbor, who lives just a few doors down from Douglas.

Can you imagine that -- Walter Matthau being deemed "repulsive"? Hardly seems right, does it? But, in this flick, it applies. "Strangers" was made at a time when the then-39-year-old Matthau was playing more serious roles in the movies, and before all of his excellent comic parts. Four years after "Strangers", Matthau played another rather unlikable character, in 1964's "Fail-Safe", which was yet another fine performance by the versatile actor.

It's also kind of funny to note (in an "in-joke" fashion) that Matthau's character's name in "Strangers" is "Felix", which is a name that would be closely associated with Walter in the film "The Odd Couple" (1968), when Matthau's "Oscar" played opposite Jack Lemmon's "Felix".

Douglas and Novak are "strangers when they meet" in the supermarket one day, and they seem to have a genuine chemistry on screen here. I found Kim's "Maggie" in this movie very similar in "icy" and "moody" style to her role two years earlier in Alfred Hitchcock's classic tale, "Vertigo". Both of those Novak characters seem to be forever tormented by some inner demons that can never be fully exorcised. But by the end of "Strangers", Maggie has shed a great deal of her inner anguish, with the film ending in a bittersweet -- but in my opinion very fitting -- fashion.

"Strangers When We Meet", I think I'm safe in assuming, is one of Kirk Douglas' lesser-known efforts during the man's amazing screen career -- but its relative obscurity doesn't make the movie any less powerful. Douglas is 100% believable in his role here as "Larry Coe", an architect who's tired of the drab cookie-cutter assignments that have been served up to him. He wants to design a house that's different. And that's just what he does in the movie.

Throughout the film, we can actually see Larry's uniquely-designed, multi-level house take shape, bit by bit. By the film's final reel, the project is completed, and it's a truly stunning home, in my opinion.

Larry Coe also has a roving eye for his quite fetching and alluring neighbor (Maggie) -- and despite the fact that each of them is married with young children, Larry and Maggie find their mutual attraction to each other too much to resist, and they begin a love affair.

The screenplay for "Strangers" was written by Evan Hunter (based on his novel). The film was directed with great style and obvious "TLC" by Richard Quine (who also doubled as the movie's producer).

The setting is California, circa 1960, and Mr. Quine's excellent use of his beautiful "CinemaScope" widescreen (2.35:1) framing comes through with flying colors on this DVD version of the film. The movie was shot in color and the cinematography for both the outdoor and indoor scenes is rich in colorful details, which this DVD from Columbia/Sony exhibits very nicely.

There's a scene near the end of the movie that's just spectacular (from a photography and lighting standpoint), with a rainbow of colors on the screen at once -- this scene taking place in Larry's just-finished hilltop home, with the light shining through various tinted panes of window glass in a way that's just simply gorgeous.

This adult drama, which is replete with multiple cases of infidelity, could very easily (in my view) have been a real "snooze-fest" (aka: a boring 2-hour nightmare to have to sit through). But, instead, it's exactly the opposite -- it comes across as fresh and alive and interesting, all the way through its entire length of 1 hour and 57 minutes.

Director/Producer Quine and screenwriter Hunter have made these characters compelling and intriguing -- and just flat-out interesting to watch. Quine and Hunter make us care about these people on screen, from beginning to end. And I'm guessing that this wasn't an easy task, given the rather heavy and somber subject matter that the film deals with.

The "suburban" feel of the early 1960s comes across very strongly in the film as well. Each frame of the movie reflects the era in which it was made -- and I don't mean that in a negative way whatsoever; to the contrary in fact. That "feeling" for the era is something I like very much here. The film began playing in movie houses on Wednesday, June 29th, 1960.

I was flabbergasted when I discovered this movie was actually available on the DVD format. It had been on my "Buy When Available" list for many moons; but slipped under my radar of new releases when Columbia/Sony streeted this little gem on February 22, 2005. To say the least, I was most pleased when I was finally able to cross this one off of the "To-Get" list.

This single-disc, single-sided DVD gives us the film in its intended and original 2.35:1 Widescreen video format, and it offers up a dandy-looking Anamorphic (16x9 enhanced) transfer to boot. It just looks great. .... The audio on the disc comes across fine via a 2.0 Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack. Subtitles can be accessed in either English or Japanese.

The DVD comes packaged in an Amaray-type plastic Keep Case. There's no Scene Selection paper insert included in the box; but there is the normal Scene Index included on the disc itself (the film is divided up into a modest number of chapters, totalling 12).

The DVD's Menus are silent and non-animated, with the Main Menu (and "Scene" Menu) sporting an odd, albeit very picturesque, view of the skyline of New York City. (That's "odd" only because the movie is not set in New York, and has nothing whatever to do with that city; the film is set entirely in California. And what makes the DVD Main Menu picture of NYC even more peculiar is the fact that it depicts the World Trade Center as part of the New York skyline; the WTC wasn't completed until more than a decade after "Strangers" was made. Oh, well, it's still a nice-looking Menu photo nonetheless. A portion of that same New York skyline picture is also used for the DVD's front cover; the packaging photo is cropped, however, and lacks the World Trade Center image.)

The only "Bonus" material on the DVD are three "Previews" (Trailers). But, unfortunately, the original theatrical trailer for "Strangers When We Meet" is not included.


To Sum It Up.........

"Strangers When We Meet" is highly recommended -- both the film and this DVD. Anyone who is a fan of intelligently-written motion-picture dramas -- or a fan of Kirk Douglas or the always-lovely Kim Novak -- will have no choice but to admire "Strangers" (IMHO).

If you haven't done so already, take "Strangers" for a spin in your DVD Player as soon as you can. It's a 117-minute journey back to 1960 -- and it's worth the time spent making the trip."
Husbands, Wives, and Lovers
Michael C. Smith | San Francisco, CA United States | 03/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"After World War II movies became more frank in subject matter. This was in part due to the changing mores of the returning vets and the women they came home to. After the horrors of war things would never be the same for them or for Hollywood. The other factor was the slow demise over the 50's of the studio system and the rise of television as a threat to the box office. The censors began to relax and allowed more adult themes to be presented on the big screen. By the early 1960's movies were well on there way to growing up. Taboo subjects such as prostitution, homosexuality and adultery were now subjects Hollywood was now eagerly taking on.

One of the more interesting and surprisingly un-judgmental of these films was the 1960 Colombia release, `Strangers When We Meet'. Produced by Kirk Douglas' company Bryna Productions and Richard Quinn Productions and taken from the novel by Evan Hunter the film is a fascinating look into the suburban lives of a Los Angeles architect, his wife and the other woman in his life.

Kirk Douglas gives a fine, understated performance as the architect Larry Coe. It is a stark contrast to his epic Spartacus of the same year. At a cross roads in his life he is given the chance to build the kind of house he always wanted to for upcoming novelist Ernie Kovaks while his company wants him to go on doing the same dull work they expect. He fights for his chance to take the chance of a life time with the skill of a fine screen actor.

As his wife, Barbara Rush is outstanding in one of her finest moments on screen. She is cold and withholding yet needy of her husbands love. Her finest moments come in her scenes with Douglas where they argue over their future and in her chilling confrontation with the lecherous Walter Matthau on a dark rainy afternoon.

As Maggie Gault actress Kim Novak turns in a nuanced and deeply felt performance. She is a woman that men have been hunting down all her life. Her beauty is something that brings her only sorrow and despair though a string of meaningless affairs. Her husband seems to be the only man who has no interest in sleeping with her and though she does love him he drives her away embarrassed by her open and honest desire for him. When Douglas says to her on their first meeting, "You're not so pretty." it throws her and intrigues her. Throughout the affair she embarks on with Douglas she is smart enough to know that this like all the others will ultimately lead nowhere. In the final frames of the film she is shown this very fact when faced with another leering man.

Kim Novak is so cool and remote at times that it seems the perfect fit for her, the role of Maggie. She is the kind of natural actress that when left alone with her instincts and the eye of the camera she surprises the viewer with the dark emotions that live just beneath her lovely features. One scene among many where she shines is when she is confronted with her past and has to tell the truth to Douglas about it.

The cinematography is wonderful to see in the widescreen aspect of this DVD and shows the great talent of cinematographer, Charles Lang who also shot such classics as `Charade' and "Some Like It Hot' and the stunning "One-Eyed Jacks".

The score by George Dunning is the perfect meeting of the romantic and dramatic. It stands along side his classic scores for "Bell, Book, and Candle", "The World of Suzy Wong" and "Picnic."

Jean Louis one of the top designers of costumes for actresses of the period turns in just enough suburban glamour to keep the ladies in the cast looking wonderful.

Director Richard Quinn pulls it all together with his usual style. He presents us with not only a good drama but also an interesting look at the suburban life of Los Angeles in 1960. The locations are memorable, the glamorous old Romanoff's restaurant, the stunning house that is built through the course of the film, and the beautiful beach at Malibu where the lovers rendezvous. This film stands along with "Suzy Wong," "Bell Book and Candle", and "How to Murder Your Wife" as some of his best work. The film holds up after forty-five years as a fresh and timely look at the relationships between husbands and wives and lovers who are always "Strangers When We Meet."
"Passion is NOT a dirty word!"
Kona | Emerald City | 03/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Larry (Kirk Douglas) meets Maggie (Kim Novak) and sparks start flying as soon as their eyes meet (during the opening credits!). They both have spouses, but are bored and, of course, unappreciated at home. Soon they're lying to their mates and meeting regularly for romantic trysts. Eventually, the truth comes out and Larry must choose between Maggie and his family.

The romantic drama is set in an affluent suburb in 1960, with beautiful clothes, bright orange furniture, and copper-colored kitchen appliances. Douglas's Larry is real, sensitive, and undeniably sexy; I really enjoyed his performance. Novak's sultry-voice and sleepwalker-style are overdone, but she's still believable as the housewife who wants to be good, but always ends up in trouble because she's just so gosh-darned pretty. Barbara Rush is lovely and charming as Larry's long-suffering wife. Walter Matthau plays a mild-mannered neighbor who turns out to be a rat.

There's a lush, romantic musical score and beautiful photography, and the seasoned actors make it seem real. "Strangers" ranks as a satisfying soaper and memorable chick flick. The DVD has no extras, but the story is worth watching again and again."
Great old movie!
Terrirenee | Monterey, CA | 07/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I have seen "Strangers when we Meet" several times on television and just had to have a copy of my own. I love that era and even though the subject matter is infidelity, the movie explores many different relationship intricacies. I highly recommend the movie especially if you like Kirk Douglas and Kim Novak.."