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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Love With the Proper Stranger [Blu-ray]

 

(Robert Mulligan, 1963)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Pakula-Mulligan Production

Video: Kino Lorber

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:40:19.096

Disc Size: 22,255,482,311 bytes

Feature Size: 20,531,871,744 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.94 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 19th, 2017

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1555 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1555 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English, None

 

Extras:

• Audio Commentary by Film Historians Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan
• 3 Trailers (none for the film)

• Reversible Blu-ray Art

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Newly re-mastered in HD! Two of Hollywood s all-time favorite stars heat up the steamy streets of Manhattan in this tough and tender romance. Taken for granted by her Catholic Italian family, innocent Macy s salesgirl Angie Rossini (Natalie Wood, West Side Story, Gypsy) seeks solace in the arms of a charming and footloose jazz musician, Rocky Papasano (Steve McQueen, The Blob, The Reivers). She becomes pregnant and doesn't expect Rocky to marry her; she just needs his help to raise the money for an illegal abortion, while her family pressures her to marry gormless Anthony Columbo (Tom Bosley, Happy Days.) This classic romantic comedy-drama was directed by Robert Mulligan (The Other), produced by Alan J. Pakula (The Sterile Cuckoo) and written by Arnold Schulman (And the Band Played On) with top-notch cinematography by Milton R. Krasner (23 Paces to Baker Street) and a rousing score by Elmer Bernstein (Cast a Giant Shadow). Co-starring Edie Adams (The Honey Pot), Herschel Bernardi (Irma La Douce) and Harvey Lembeck (Stalag 17). Nominated for 5 Academy Awards including Best Actress (Wood), Best Screenplay (Schulman), Cinematography (Krasner), Art Direction and Costume Design (Edith Head).

 

 

The Film:

After the success of the Army comedy Soldier in the Rain (1963) and the blockbuster World War II adventure that made him a major star, The Great Escape (1963), Steve McQueen took on his first romantic lead in a film that would expand his audience beyond male action fans and make him just as popular with female audiences. Pairing him with one of the top young actresses of the day, Natalie Wood, Love with the Proper Stranger (1963) added a new dimension to McQueen's appeal and helped propel him to the superstar status he would maintain over the next decade.

McQueen's motives for taking the role weren't strictly commercial, however. Trained at the prestigious Actors Studio, he was always torn between box office success and a desire to be seen as an accomplished actor like the man he considered his chief rival, Paul Newman (who was actually director Robert Mulligan's first choice for Love with the Proper Stranger). He was also attracted to the notion of filming the offbeat love story with its frank and then risky treatment of abortion, on location in New York, where he got his start in acting. In addition, he was eager to work with Mulligan, then riding on the great success of To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). As Rocky, a self-centered jazz musician who beds an innocent young woman, gets her pregnant and finally learns a sense of commitment, responsibility and love, McQueen revealed both a vulnerable and a macho side, and it made him a sex symbol. It also earned him critical praise, including a suggestion from Newsweek that he should receive an Academy Award for his work.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

Charmingly bitter-sweet tale of the carefree jazz musician and the romantic shop-girl he gets pregnant, leading her to a back-street abortionist as a preferable alternative to facing her strict Italo-American family. Familiar in theme, but given a delightfully fresh flavour by Mulligan's atmospherically low-key direction, excellent performances from Wood and McQueen, and vivid location shooting in New York's Little Italy (the musician's union hall at the beginning, the amusement park, the sad and shabby street of the abortionist). Edie Adams is outstanding as the quizzically cynical stripper with whom McQueen is shacked up, but who is given a characteristically raw deal by a script working its way toward the obligatory happy ending.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The single-layered Kino Lorber Blu-ray of Love With the Proper Stranger looks quite pleasing in 1080P. The black and white film has nicely layered contrast and there are frequent examples of depth. There is some inherent softness but close-ups can be impressive showcasing detail. The source is clean, and I noticed no noise. Grain is not abundant but exists. This Blu-ray gave me a better-than-anticipated viewing in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1555 kbps (16-bit) sounds clean with reasonable depth in pushing the film's scattered crowd-noise scenes and dialogue is consistently clear. The gentle score by Elmer Bernstein (The Bride at Remagen, The Comancheros, The World of Henry Orient, Kings of the Sun, Hud, To Kill a Mockingbird, Summer and Smoke) including the "Love With the Proper Stranger" theme (heard on a radio in the film) as sung by Jack Jones, sounds clean and pleasing in the lossless, supporting the film's conflicts and emotions well. There are optional English subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

I've been on a roll listening to excellent audio commentaries, and the one included here with film historians Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan was also top notch (I also enjoyed their commentary on Shameless' Blu-ray of Sergio Martino's All the Colors of the Dark.) They discussed 'social problem' topic films coming out of Hollywood, channeling Italian Neo-realism, the camerawork and claustrophobic scenes in Love With the Proper Stranger, the similarity of the 'conflicted' film - and how the leads (McQueen and Wood) were hoping their performances would escalate them into more different acting roles... this was a deeply probing discussion and I appreciated the analysis and comments. There were also three trailers for other films and the package has reversible cover art (see below.)

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Love With the Proper Stranger is quite a good film. Certainly a bold topic for the times; 'abortion' actually 'illegal abortion'. Wood and McQueen have chemistry in a realistic way where their characters are both pragmatists, too practical to fall for romance, no matter how fate pushes them there. There is humor and realism - a very enjoyable film. The Kino Lorber
Blu-ray offers a good HD presentation of less-typical and exceptionally performed film, and it includes a valuable commentary. Steve McQueen, Natalie Wood ? - that's more than enough for a recommendation!  NOTE: At the writing of this review it is 37% OFF at Amazon.

Gary Tooze

August 26th, 2017

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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