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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Not as a Stranger [Blu-ray]

 

(Stanley Kramer, 1955)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Stanley Kramer Productions

Video: Kino Lorber

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 2:16:49.534

Disc Size: 41,173,796,386 bytes

Feature Size: 39,213,619,200 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.45 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: January 9th, 2018

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1557 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1557 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 Historian Troy Howarth
Original Theatrical Trailer (3:13) and trailers for 4 other films

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Lucas Marsh (Robert Mitchum, The Enemy Below), an ego-driven medical student, has one burning, passionate desire in life... to be a doctor. But his strong belief that a physician should be perfect has turned him into a demanding idealist. Lucas thinks anyone who deals in human life must be infallible, so as he completes his training and sets up practice in a small town, his relentless perfectionism continues to alienate the people closest to him... until a fatal mistake forces him to come to grips with his own imperfections. This compelling drama by the great Stanley Kramer (On the Beach, Inherit the Wind, Judgment at Nuremberg) features an amazing cast that includes Olivia de Havilland (The Dark Mirror), Frank Sinatra (The Manchurian Candidate), Gloria Grahame (In a Lonely Place), Broderick Crawford (Big House U.S.A.), Lee Marvin (Prime Cut), Charles Bickford (The Big Country), Harry Morgan (Dark City) and Lon Chaney Jr. (The Wolf Man).

 

 

The Film:

Ambitious but impecunious medical student Lucas Marsh (Robert Mitchum) marries the older and (in this film, at least) not especially attractive Kristina Hedvigson (Olivia de Havilland) so that she can pay his tuition fees. Kristina loves Lucas, but he loves nothing but his work. Emotionally shutting himself off from everyone -- including best friend, Alfred Boone (Frank Sinatra), and drunken dad, Job Marsh (Lon Chaney Jr.) -- Lucas survives his training and goes to work as the assistant to tough but tender small-town medico Dr. Runkleman (Charles Bickford). He enters into an affair with wealthy Harriet Lang (Gloria Grahame) (watch for the symbolism-laden tryst in the horse barn!), obliging Alfred, now a big-city doctor, to try to patch up his pal's marriage. But Lucas feels nothing and needs no one because he's come to think of himself as the perfect physician, incapable of making an error. When Lucas fails to revive his mentor Dr. Runkleman during heart surgery (a genuine heart is used in the "massage" close-ups), the young doctor suddenly realizes that he's not infallible after all. He wanders aimlessly through town, finally returning to his wife and collapsing into her arms, sobbing "Help me! Please help me!" Cameo players range from Broderick Crawford as a Jewish doctor denied entry into medicine's upper circles to Carl Switzer as a bug-eyed patient. The film was adapted from the best-selling novel by Morton Thompson.

Excerpt from B+N located HERE

What's more frightening than a surgical team consisting of Robert Mitchum, Frank Sinatra, and Lee Marvin? It would have to be Broderick Crawford as their supervising surgeon, but that's exactly what you get in Not as a Stranger (1955), Stanley Kramer's ambitious film production of Morton Thompson's extremely thick novel. The plot may be pure melodrama - a poor medical intern marries for opportunistic reasons and eventually sees the errors of his ways - but it's merely a device for critiquing professional ethics and hospital politics in the medical arena of the fifties. Naturally, the American Medical Association was extremely concerned about the film's depiction of their profession and Kramer had to appear before their board to prove his intentions were honorable prior to filming.

Not as a Stranger was filmed at the old Chaplin Studios on La Brea in Los Angeles with some additional shooting at various local hospitals such as the Birmingham Veterans Hospital in the San Fernando Valley. Since Kramer wanted the film to be as realistic as possible, he made sure that several scenes were devoted to authentic surgical procedures such as a gastrectomy and an actual autopsy that made some cast members flinch. But if life at the hospital looked pretty grim on camera, it was a decidedly different story off the set.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

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

The dual-layered Kino Lorber Blu-ray of Not as a Stranger has a max'ed out bitrate. It tends to look heavier in the first 20-minutes or so but settles and the image quality is quite strong in the final 2/3's of the film. I suspected macro issue but I could not specifically identity in the beginning of the 1080P presentation. There is rich grain and solid detail in close-ups in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio frame. The source has minor speckles but I suspect that most will appreciate this Blu-ray transfer's picture quality.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Kino Lorber use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1557 kbps (16-bit) in the original English language. There are minor effects in the film - mostly in the operating room. The score by George Antheil - The Pride and the Passion, In a Lonely Place, Make Way for Tomorrow (1937), Sirocco (1951), House by the River (1950) Tokyo Joe (1949) and other Nicholas Ray films, including, Knock on Any Door (1949) along with Rule, Britannia! - heightens drama, especially near the conclusion.  The dialogue was clear and consistent. There are optional English subtitles (see sample above) offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

Kino include a fact-filled audio commentary by film historian Troy Howarth who details beyond the film production to the performers, some secrets and much more. I found it educational and rewarding. There is also an original theatrical trailer and trailers for 4 other films.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I had never seen Not as a Stranger but was anticipating it being a big Mitchum fan. I loved it. There is impressive support from Olivia de Havilland (complete with Scandinavian accent), Frank Sinatra, Broderick Crawford, sultry Gloria Grahame, stalwart Charles Bickford, Lon Chaney Jr., Harry Morgan, Lee Marvin... Mitchum portrays a brilliant, emotionally dissatisfied, characterization. Wow. The Kino Lorber
Blu-ray not only has this gem in 1080P - but also offers a valuable commentary. Strongly recommended!  NOTE: At the writing of this review it is 33% OFF at Amazon.

Gary Tooze

January 3rd, 2018

 




 

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