Friday, February 25, 2011

Oscar Blogathon: Best Actress 1963: Natalie Wood in, Love with the Proper Stranger(1963).

Natalie Wood, had a long Hollywood career. Her versatility served her well, maybe because she began performing in movies by the age of four and was a successful child actor in films such as, Miracle on 34th Street (1947).

She also gave a wonderful performance in, Rebel Without a Cause (1955), which earned her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

She then starred in the musicals: West Side Story (1961) and Gypsy (1962).

She also received Academy Award nominations for her performances in the films, Splendor in the Grass (1961) and Love with the Proper Stranger(1963). A Romantic/comedy/ drama. Directed by Robert Mulligan. Cast: Natalie Wood, Steve McQueen, Edie Adams, Herschel Bernardi and Harvey Lembeck. The film is also the screen debut of Tom Bosley. The film's title song, written by Elmer Bernstein and Johnny Mercer, was recorded by Jack Jones.

The film begins, when Angie Rossini a Italian-American girl, finds herself pregnant after a "one night stand". The father is a musician named, Rocky Papasano and when she finds him, he does not remember her. All she wants from him is to give her enough money to help pay for an abortion.

Rocky comes up with the money for the abortion, but.. it turns out the abortionist is not a doctor. Rocky, refuses to let her go through with the abortion. He seems to really care about her and his concern brings them closer together. After meeting her brothers, Rocky says that he is ready to "take his medicine" by marrying her. Angie feelings are hurt and refuses, Angie wants a love relationship, with "bells and banjos."

Angie decides that it is best to move out on her own and begins to date her friend, Anthony. Rocky and Angie, cant seem to forget each other and Angie, invites him to dinner, where he makes advances towards her.

Angie says she doesn't want to make the same mistake and throws him out. The next day, Rocky waits for her outside Macy's, where she works, ringing bells and playing a banjo. Will he win her over?

I find it amazing that Natalie was just 25 years old at the time and to this day remains the youngest person to ever receive 3 Academy Award nominations. Love with the Proper Stranger, is a wonderful movie and before you know it you find yourself really hoping that they will get together. Wood's performance shows the most vulnerable side of this character. You may think, this film sounds like it is a great"chick flick", but... the story is has some wonderful comedic scenes that may appeal to the guys, too.

Please click here to read Natalie Wood's past reviews.


  1. Thank you for the post and being part of the blogathon! What I find interesting is that "The L-Shaped Room" and "Love With the Proper Stranger" have the same themes, yet the treatment is so different. In "Room," the father of Caron's child is a small part of the story, while in "Stranger" he's the other lead. Watching them back-to-back would be great to do.

  2. Dawn, you may be right about this sounding like a chick flick, but doesn't it have an important male figure (McQueen) who has to grow in character and morality to be able to feel love and the responsibiliity that comes with it! In that respect, it's a good film for young men as well as women.

    I mentioned on classicfilmboy's review about the L-Shaped Room that young people now have no idea what it was like for a girl to be an unwed mother in those days. In this movie, the girl is from a large Italian Catholic family, and the fact that she would even seek an abortion speaks volumes about the kind of desperation she was feeling.

    As strange as it sounds, I think one of the best love scenes that have impressed me takes place in that horrible empty room when McQueen saves her from the so-called doctor, really just a butcher for pay. That was the first time you really saw that he was a man, and had feelings for this scared girl who felt so alone.

    I really enjoyed your post, Dawn, and I am happy to have been part of this blogathon too!

  3. Dawn, a great post on a film I've haven't seen in a long time but recall liking a lot. I'm not a big fan of Steve McQueen, but I have a real soft spot for the young Natalie Wood. I saw her in "Splendor in the Grass" again a few weeks ago and was just amazed at how good she was and how subtle. Many of the same qualities in that performance can be found in "Love." I also recall thinking Edie Adams gave a very colorful performance that should have been recognized by the Academy, just as she did in "The Apartment."

  4. I haven't seen this one, I'm afraid, but I'd like to. I like the Elmer Bernstein score and I was intrigued by the You Tube clip. Well done. Thanks for participating in the blogathon.

  5. Dawn, I have always liked the title "Love with the Proper Stranger." It has been way too long since I have seen it. Natalie Wood is my favorite performer of the five women featured in this Blogathon. She has mesmerizing eyes and I think she was often underrated. Her performance as Maria in "West Side Story" is so innocent and touching. She was phenomenal in "Splendor in the Grass." Thank you for your wonderful tribute to a very talented performer who died much too young.

  6. Dawn, what a nice way to end this blogathon on the 1963 Best Actress nominees! I thought Natalie gave one of her best performances in LOVE WITH A PROPER STRANGER. She could be feisty, vulnerable, and passionate...all in the same film. I find it interesting that she and her follow nominee Leslie Caron both played unwed pregnant women. My favorite Natalie Wood films are SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS and the underrated THIS PROPERTY IS CONDEMNED. By the way, Natalie looks stunning in the first of your photos.

  7. Great post, Dawn, on a film I've seen many times. It is very much of its era and was topical then...with good performances all around, ably directed by Robert Mulligan, just coming off "To Kill a Mockingbird." Hope you don't mind that I tweeted a link to your post on Twitter.

  8. Classicfilmboy, Thank you, I really enjoyed being part of the blogathon! I have not seen the film, "The L-Shaped Room" to compare the two. But.. I do think it is a great idea to watch them back to back.

    ClassicBecky, Thank you. I thought that the theme of the film, might have sounded a little like a "chick flick" and did not want the guys yo be turned off by it. Yes, the times were so different back when this film was made. For me this is a very emotional film, I too, wonder if it has the same affect on the young people today?

    R. D. Finch, Thank you. I'm a huge fan of, Steve McQueen, Natalie Wood and Edie Adams. So I love every performance they do. Natalie Wood, might be my favorite performer of the three. I agree "Splendor in the Grass" and the "The Apartment" are also both great films.

    Kevin Deany, Thank you. I hope you get the opportunity to see the film, Love with the Proper Stranger, soon. I think that you will enjoy it.

    toto2, Thank you. I agree.. imagine the movies that Natalie Wood, would have performed in if she had lived longer.

    Rick29, Thank you, I have not seen the film, "This Property Is Condemned". I will look for it.

    The Lady Eve, Thank you and thank you for linking my post on Twitter.

    Thank you everyone for stopping by and leaving your very informative and interesting comments.
    And, a very special Thank you to, Classicfilmboy for hosting this awesome blogathon!

  9. Dawn,
    I apologize for my tardiness but I made it to the Blogathon! This was a very nice write up on Natalie. My favorite film of hers is "This Property Is Condemned".

    I'm glad you all chose this year as a lead up to the Oscars as it was a lot of fun.

  10. Page, Thank you. I do not think that I have seen the film,"This Property Is Condemned".

    I agree, The Blogathon was alot of fun!


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