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(aka "Extraño Asunto" )


directed by Will Price
USA 1949

Jeffrey Lynn plays a bookkeeper who fails in his attempt to get a raise from his employer (Richard Gaines). The boss explains that the company is on the verge of bankruptcy, and that he is planning to kill himself. He offers Lynn $10,000 if Lynn will make the suicide look like murder so that the boss' family will collect on his insurance policy. Lynn agrees--and finds himself the fall guy in a complicated fraud scheme. Much of the footage of Strange Bargain showed up as flashbacks in a 1989 episode of TV's Murder, She Wrote. By removing the original happy ending, the TV instalment allowed Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) solve the mystery of the boss' murder--and to exonerate the long-imprisoned bookkeeper, played again by Jeffrey Lynn! Also appearing on this remarkable Murder She Wrote were Lynn's surviving Strange Bargain costars Martha Scott and Harry Morgan.


Although its central character, an underpaid bookkeeper, becomes involved in an improbable fix—he is offered $10,000 by his boss to help make the latter's suicide look like murder—the ensuing developments unfold briskly and in convincing style. Our conscience-stricken hero unwillingly carries out his unsavory assignment and the cops pursuing the obvious leads are about to arrest the innocent man. But the denouement—it isn't suicide after all—is swift, perhaps overly melodramatic but completely surprising.

Jeffrey Lynn is thoroughly believable as the harried bookkeeper, who runs afoul of the law. Martha Scott gives a tender delineation as his understanding wife. Henry Morgan, as the perceptive sleuth who tracks down the killer, and the rest of the small cast chip in with equally solid performances. As has been noted previously, "Strange Bargain" is not contending for any film prizes but it definitely is a cut above the normal run of minor pictures that have been on view hereabouts lately.

Excerpt from the NYTimes located HERE


Television Premiere: September 29th, 1949


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DVD Review: Vértice Cine - Region 0 - PAL

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Vértice Cine

Region 0 - PAL

Runtime 1:08:10 (4% PAL speedup)

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.60 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Dolby Digital 1.0 (English)
Subtitles Spanish, None (non-removable on some machines)
Features Release Information:
Studio: Vértice Cine

Aspect Ratio:
Original - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• 24-page Liner notes booklet (photos and Spanish text)

DVD Release Date: December 11th, 2013
Keep Case inside cardboard case

Chapters 10





Strange Bargain was on our Complete Noir Listing but didn't make it over to the Essential List - until now. It has enough of the cycle conventions - moral conflict over monetary issues ie. an average Joe sees his way out of a desperate situation offered the opportunity to break the law etc. (a little like Anthony Mann's Side Street). It's a B-entry but still quite good and fits solidly with other minor dark cinema gems, especially 'Suburban Noirs' - like Shadow of a Doubt - often set in the family home devoid of dark alleys, seedy bars, jail cells etc. - although there is a scene at a dark pier. The film's greatest weakness is that it's at the far-fetched end of the spectrum - but that is not dissimilar to many lower budget Noirs.

It's another Spanish single-layered disc from an inferior source - most likely analog. But it is a solid notch above what we have seen before from these distributors. The image still looks brittle with chroma instances and edge-enhancement, artefacts, slightly green etc. It's reasonably clean and contrast is acceptable throughout most of the film. Certainly very watchable.

But the big issue for some may be that, although the menu allows you to remove the Spanish subtitles - "Sin Subtitulos" (only English audio is available) it may not be capable on all machines, despite they are definitely NOT burned-in. My superior player couldn't do it - but my lesser machine was able to successfully remove them. And my computer software was also able to do it as well. This is an unusual problem for DVD although we see it occasionally on Blu-rays (Sidonis being the main perpetrator) from Europe (see our reviews of Losey's M, Garden of Evil, Warlock and Broken Arrow).

The mono sound is decent supporting the score by Friedrich Hollaender (The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Caught, Berlin Express, Background to Danger, The Verdict) and we have already discussed the Spanish subtitle issue. The only extras is a beautiful liner notes booklet - 24-pages - with plenty of high quality photos.

I was in the mood for this and only wish it was longer although it moves at a decent clip. My expectations were not high and I found a lot to appreciate. It offers reasonable value for those keen on the simplicity. I'll definitely revisit this - but beware the subtitle issue although, we presume, that it can also be 'got around' with a re-burn.  

  - Gary Tooze



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