A few words about…™Not as a Stranger — in Blu-ray

A nicely balanced black & white image, with superb shadow detail, nice blacks, and beautiful grain. 4 Stars

Stanley Kramer’s Not as a Stranger, a 1955 medical melodrama is an odd film.

Not great, but certainly interesting enough to warrant two hours of your time.

The independent production boasts a superb cast, and a plethora of secondary and bit players that will have you repeating, “where do I know that face from?” I’m referring to the likes of folks from Jesse White to bits by Carl Switzer, and Nancy Culp.

There are connections to be found.

Switzer was in It’s a Wonderful Life, with perennial bad-girl, Gloria Grahame, also found here in the bad-girl role.

Some of the great Swedish-American actors are also here. The likes of Harry Morgan, Virginia Christine, and Olivia de Havilland.

And more players…

Lon Chaney, Jr., Broderick Crawford, Lee Marvin, Whit Bissell, Mae Clarke (Franksenstein, Public Enemy).

And the leads, Robert Mitchum, Frank Sinatra, and one of my personal favorites, Charles Bickford.

The Blu-ray from an MGM master, courtesy of Kino Lorber, also brings up an age-old question, first asked by Robespierre.

If a film has wear and damage — ie. tears into image, tape, etc — and also dirty dupes, optical printer functions created before the advent of wet-gate printing, should it be cleaned and removed?

All of it?

Some of it?

Does one leave the optical dirt, or remove it, since it’s been there since day one, and is a part of the film?

Some feel that you clean all of it, creating a pristine image.

I can go either way.

Allow the old dupe dirt to remain, or not, but certainly fix the damage and detritus printed through the original negative and fine grains.

The interesting point here, is that neither have been cleaned. Does’t seem as though the master was touched.

Optical dirt?

Check.

Negative dirt?

Check.

Postive dirt?

Check.

Missing bits of frames and tears across multiple frames?

Check.

A veritable smorgasbord of dirt and damage problems.

But the base material, short of the dupes, looks terrific.

A nicely balanced black & white image, with superb shadow detail, nice blacks, and beautiful grain.

The final result looks as a print would, if one were struck recently.

What to do?

It looks like fillum.

Image – 4.5

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD – Yes

Recommended

RAH

Published by

Robert Harris

editor,member

13 Comments

  1. Always liked this film, the cast is fantastic. So glad it is a getting a bluray treatment, even though some defects remain. Impressed Mr. Harris gave it a 4.5 on image, considering the aforementioned flaws.

  2. Johnny Angell

    Since I find it hard to believe the filmmakers would want all those imperfections in their film, I’m ok with cleaning them up.

    Has absolutely nothing to do with the filmmakers.

    It simply was.

    State of the art.

    There is nothing in this release that does not represent the film, as it was decades ago, and survives today.

  3. Robert Harris

    Has absolutely nothing to do with the filmmakers.

    It simply was.

    State of the art.

    There is nothing in this release that does not represent the film, as it was decades ago, and survives today.

    Well….ok. However, I've been persuaded to believe that it's ok to restore to the point that is in line with the intent of the filmmakers. Surely the script didn't read "insert scratches here …and here tear the film."

  4. Johnny Angell

    Well….ok. However, I've been persuaded to believe that it's ok to restore to the point that is in line with the intent of the filmmakers. Surely the script didn't read "insert scratches here …and here tear the film."

    Correct. Aside from dupes, everything should have been corrected digitally. My point was that what we’re seeing accurately represents the film, as if a print were struck today.

  5. One more point, as noted on the audio commentary, this film came out the same year as "The Night of the Hunter". Matter of fact, each film opened within about a month of each other during the summer of 1955. With "Not as a Stranger" making money while "The Night of the Hunter" bombed at the box office. Today, the latter is considered on a higher plane as a masterpiece type of film as Harry Powell is an all-time great film villain.

    https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-the-night-of-the-hunter-1955

  6. Robert Crawford

    One more point, as noted on the audio commentary, this film came out the same year as "The Night of the Hunter". Matter of fact, each film opened within about a month of each other during the summer of 1955. With "Not as a Stranger" making money while "The Night of the Hunter" bombed at the box office. Today, the latter is considered on a higher plane as a masterpiece type of film as Harry Powell is an all-time great film villain.

    https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-the-night-of-the-hunter-1955

    Interesting. I like both films. But I like Not as a Stranger better. Any other thoughts on the audio commentary?

  7. benbess

    Interesting. I like both films. But I like Not as a Stranger better. Any other thoughts on the audio commentary?

    Wow, you like Not as a Stranger more….. As to the audio commentary, it's informative, but there is a long sequence in which he was reciting a recipe on how to cook a turkey that was just awful as it occur during a couple of critical film sequences. No kidding! It almost ruin the commentary for me.

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