Love With the Proper Stranger (1963)
Love with the Proper Stranger (1963) is a darling film. Natalie Wood and Steve McQueen star as Angie and Rocky two Italian-Americans living in New York City who are in a bit of a quandary. Their recent passionate rendezvous has resulted in an unwanted pregnancy. Angie, a Macy's shop girl, searches for Rocky, a jazz musician, to tell him the news. He barely even remembers her but now they are inextricably linked with the growing consequence of their previous actions. Angie and Rocky plan to seek an abortionist but decide against it when it comes to the actual event. What do they do now? Get married? Move on?
This film is really two stories. First it's the story of Angie and Rocky seeking an abortion. The second is their complicated love story. Despite the heavy and controversial subject of abortion, which at the time was still illegal, this is a very sweet and gentle story about two young people in the city finding themselves thrown together in an interesting story.
I very much enjoyed the performances of Natalie Wood and Steve McQueen. Wood was a lot more subtle in her role as Angie as she had been in some other films of hers I've seen. Seeing this side of Natalie Wood was a lot more palatable for me that's for sure! Out of the two, Steve McQueen's character Rocky was my favorite. It's very easy to develop a little crush on Rocky when you watch him become protective and caring of Angie.
Tom Bosley has a supporting role (his movie debut!) as Anthony Columbo, the restauranteur boyfriend of Angie that her mom and brothers picked out for her. I really adored his character. He genuinely cares for Angie and I loved the opposing scenes in which he finds himself being very clumsy when visiting Angie's family and Angie finds herself being very clumsy when she visits Anthony's family.
Love with the Proper Stranger (1963) is just the sort of quiet movie I really enjoy. It doesn't have some big message, it's not trying to fulfill some grandiose purpose and it's not trying to be something huge. It's just a simple human story that makes you feel and makes you think all while entertaining you.
I would vote for this film to NOT be a part of any discussion of abortion. I think it's just a love story and it should be left at that. It's from a different time and circumstances were different so it's really not an appropriate film to use in the modern day debate on abortion. Also, do not think this is an abortion movie because it's not. It's a love story!
This film is not available on DVD. It's a Paramount film and most of us know how difficult it is to get our hands on some of the films from that studio! Maybe Love with the Proper Stranger is part of the 600 Paramount films Warner Bros. acquired distribution rights for (see that news here). For now, it can be occasionally seen on Turner Classic Movies.
A BIG THANK YOU to Paul from Art, Movies, Wood and Whatnot who sent me a recording of this movie from a TCM broadcast. I am forever indebted to him for so graciously sending me this film! Thank you!
To those of you who are bakers, I did find a goof in the scene in which Anthony is baking a cake. He takes the cake out of the oven and Angie helps loosen it from the bundt pan. At one point she burns her hand. She runs her hands under cold water but Anthony's mother slaps butter on her hand. Funny thing is that the cold water would have helped her infinitely more so than the butter! The cold water helps stop the burning. Once you burn yourself, your flesh continues to burn until it cools down. Anyways, a few moments later, Anthony brings out a perfectly frosted cake to serve to Angie, his mom and his sisters. Earlier in the scene I proclaimed to Carlos " I hope he's not thinking of frosting that cake while it's hot!". In timing, he would have had to frost a hot cake in order to have brought it out so quickly. Any baker knows that a cake needs time to cool before frosting. Otherwise the frosting will melt and you'll end up with a gloopy glaze rather than smooth frosting!