Love with the Proper Stranger (1963) B-
The first and only teaming of Steve McQueen (just before he became a major star) and Natalie Wood, “Love with the Proper Stranger” is a well-acted melodrama, directed by Robert Mulligan right after his 1962 masterpiëce, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Wood plays Angie Rossini, a New York of Italian descent, who falls for McQueen’s Rocky Papasano, a handsome bohemian, irresponsible jazz musician.
When she becomes pregnant, Angie doesn’t expect Rocky to marry her; all she wants is money to pay for an illegal abortion. (The movie was made years before Roe Vs. Wade landmark case). Not surprisingly, Rocky is denied a loan by his girlfriend (Edie Adams). Meanwhile, Angie’s concerned family puts pressure on her to marry Anthony Colombo (Tom Bosley), a good-hearted but humorless man.
As the abortion approaches, Rocky begins to feel guilty, but still won’t propose to her. In contrast, when Bosley finds out about Angie’s pregnancy, he is willing to sacrifice and make her an “honest” woman. Angie finally makes up her mind what to do, when she walks into the abortion clinic.
By today’s standards, the tale and its perspective on abortion is outdated, but the movie was made in 1963, before abortion became a major issue.
“Love With the Proper Stranger” is still dramatically compelling, and the on-screen rapport between Natalie Wood and Steve McQueen is impressive.
The secondary cast of talented New York-based actors, including Herschel Bernardi, Tom Bosley, and Harvey Lembeck, is a major plus.
Oscar Nominations: 5
Actress: Natalie Wood
Story and Screenplay (Original): Arnold Schulman
Cinematography (b/w): Milton Krasner
Art Direction-Set Decoration (b/w): Hal Pereira and Roland Anderson; Sam Comer and Grace Gregory.
Costume Design (b/w): Edith Head
Oscar Awards: None
The winner of the Best Actress Oscar was Patricia Neal for “Hud.”
Running time: 102 Minutes.
Directed by Robert Mulligan
Screenplay: Arnold Schulman
Released: December 25, 1963.
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