Saturday, 8 December 2012
Love with a Proper Stranger
I have seen Love with a Proper Stranger before the latest viewing. Seeing film about a jazz musician always interests and it was only after the opening frames that I remembered the story but decided to view again, a decision I did not regret, even though there is no jazz music even as background,
Steve McQeen was 36 when he made the film with Natalie Wood who was 24. He plays an family Italian background jazz musician looking his age, and experience, dependent on work through the union, out of touch with his parents and living hand to mouth when Natalie, part of another Italian family approaches to ask for his help with information about an abortionist having conceived his child in a one night encounter which he does immediately remember.
I have considered if a character such as that played by Natalie would go with a jazz musician she had just heard play all the way, to use the language of the sixties, and if McQueen given his character would not have remembered such a recent the experience. I conclude yes to the former but have reservations about the latter because McQueen had a regular girl friend and the impression is given that he spent most days out of work. Leaving these issues aside the film deals with what happened when girls from Catholic homes become pregnant and the dodgy nature of the back street abortion at that time.
Until the sixties it remained common for a teenage girl to be played by a mature actress and I assume this was the case here with the girl living with her mother and brothers who attempted to keep a 24 hour watch on her behaviour when she was not working as a sales assistant in a departmental store. The girl character is credible as a sixteen to 21 year old in that environment but would have been otherwise married and nto on the shelf at 24!
In fact the difficulties faced by young people from active tribal traditional Mediterranean cultures living in communities in other countries was and I suspect has become even more intense than those now back home. I am not surprised that Natalie’s performance earned her Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. She communicates in subtle and understated ways the mixtures of emotions so although she approaches he man for practical help[ it is also evident she hopes he will remember the experience with great affection and want to marry her not because it is the right thing to do but because he wants to. She communicates her horror and desperation at the predicament, especially with the abortionist but also her continuing hope for a the kind of resolution she has dreamed about.
I also thought the performance of McQueen was outstanding as a mature agent where the thought of a family life is furtherest from his mind but finding that she is both attractive and able to communicate with him he falls in love and the film has the expected happy ending. Before this there are somewhat stock scenes when the girl agrees to have dinner at home with a suitor who is being pushed by her brothers and the man gets money from both parents for the abortion and meets up with a former girl friend now married to a former close friend.