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USA 1960
Directed by
Richard Quine
117 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Strangers When We Meet

Made at a time when Eisenhowerian America was on the cusp of a major shift in social mores Richard Quine’s wonderful Cinemascope melodrama tells story of an adulterous relationship in the heartland of middle class suburbia as architect, Larry Coe (Kirk Douglas), and housewife, Maggie Gault (Kim Novak, who made four films with Quine), give way to their lust. The carnality is alluded to with finesse, the main issue being, of course, the threat to the pair's safe, apparently ideal middle class lives and their resulting angst-ridden re-evaluation of their commitment/sense of obligation to it.

With a strong script by Evan Hunter from his own novel, strong performances from Douglas and Novak and excellent direction from Quine who gives the characters' moral quandaries great visual resonance, this remains a compelling and affecting film. Although dramatically it is weighted a little too much towards Douglas’ struggle with himself with Novak’s character being largely assumed to have surrendered body and soul to the call of love it does convince as an portrait of the perils of adultery.

Whilst Douglas's strapping figure does at times feel too forced a presence, Novak, looking remarkably like Marilyn Monroe (but amply demonstrating why that actress will be forever known as a sex kitten), is marvellous as the woman who knows that she can have any man she wants. Strangers When We Meet is, if not as memorable as Douglas Sirk's benchmark contributions to the genre, a treat for lovers of 1950s melodrama,




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