I See a Dark Stranger

Overview

"For the subject of a neutral country, aren't you being belligerent?" a character asks Deborah Kerr's Bridie Quilty, a naïve would-be Irish patriot, in an early scene of I See a Dark Stranger. "There's nothing belligerent about it -- it's entirely a question of which side I'm neutral on." It's a line worthy of a good Hollywood thriller, but it's also almost too clever in its mix of defiance and semantics for a Hollywood movie of its era, and it sets the delicately balanced tone -- equal measures of seriousness ...
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Overview

"For the subject of a neutral country, aren't you being belligerent?" a character asks Deborah Kerr's Bridie Quilty, a naïve would-be Irish patriot, in an early scene of I See a Dark Stranger. "There's nothing belligerent about it -- it's entirely a question of which side I'm neutral on." It's a line worthy of a good Hollywood thriller, but it's also almost too clever in its mix of defiance and semantics for a Hollywood movie of its era, and it sets the delicately balanced tone -- equal measures of seriousness and knowing humor -- that carries this movie. Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat's I See a Dark Stranger (originally released in America as The Adventuress) comes to DVD courtesy of Home Vision Entertainment in a very crisp-looking edition. Although the Rank Organization, which financed it, has justifiably achieved renown for the color films that were generated from its studios in the mid-'40s, it was the finely photographed black-and-white features such as this that made up the vast bulk of its output, and they were not to be dismissed. Among them are such excellent works as Brief Encounter, Green for Danger, I Know Where I'm Going. A clever thriller with comedic elements made by the same two writer/producers who wrote Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes and Carol Reed's Night Train to Munich, I See a Dark Stranger arrives on DVD with a clean, sharp image, so much so that every strand of Deborah Kerr's hair seems visible in high resolution in her close-ups. Overall the disc isn't a match for the very best black-and-white restorations of the period -- there are very mild visible flaws in the film elements, principally very light staining in a few spots -- but it is transferred so cleanly and has such rich contrast that one can even pick out details in the dark, natural half-light of the train-boarding scene nine minutes into the movie, and it runs circles around television presentations of the movie from as recently as the 1980s. Furthermore, the sound is a marked improvement over any prior home-viewing version of the film: every nuance of William Alwyn's delightful score is presented cleanly and in sharp relief, along with the softest parts of Kerr's voice-over narration on the train ride. The audio is so crisp that even those who have an intimate knowledge of Alwyn's work could find details in the music that they have previously missed. The film has been given 22 chapters, of which the only point worth disputing is the combining of the train ride and Bridie's arrival at the museum into a single chapter. The only bonus feature is the original British trailer, which tries to emphasize the thriller aspects of the plot and bypasses the comedy -- one imagines that audiences were surprised and delighted by all of the plot elements that they found surrounding Kerr's delectable form. The disc opens automatically onto a simple menu that is very easy to maneuver around.
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Special Features

[None specified]
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
I See a Dark Stranger is remembered as the film that introduced Deborah Kerr to the United States, paving the way for many memorable performances in the years that followed. Kerr is indeed splendid in Stranger, and it's no wonder that she made the critics sit up and take notice, for the film gives her a chance to really strut her stuff and show what she is made of. There are plenty of dramatic scenes, of course, that require her to be fiery or indignant or noble; but there are also scenes that require her to demonstrate her technique at keeping or building suspense, at expressing romance, even at playing comedy. Kerr delivers on all counts. She's well matched by the deft, effortless yet affecting performance of Trevor Howard, who knows exactly how to play his scenes so that he doesn't detract from Kerr yet still makes a very definite impression. The supporting cast is also first rate, and there's some delicious dialogue throughout. If Stranger ultimately is a very good little film rather than an excellent one, it's largely because the screenplay tries too hard to mix too many genres and only partially succeeds; the comedic tone of the final sequence, in particular, is forced and unsatisfactory. Frank Launder's direction is neat and trim, but it isn't sufficiently up to the demands that the screenplay's changes of tone place on it.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/21/2003
  • UPC: 037429174920
  • Original Release: 1946
  • Rating:

  • Source: Homevision
  • Aspect Ratio: Pre-1954 Standard (1.33.1)
  • Presentation: Black & White
  • Time: 1:52:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Deborah Kerr Birdie Quilty
Trevor Howard Lt. David Baynes
Raymond Huntley Miller
Garry Marsh Capt. Goodhusband
Tom Macauley Lt. Spanswick
W.G. O'Gorrnan Danny Quilty
Harry Webster Uncle Joe
Liam Redmond Timothy
Marie Ault Mrs. O'Mara
Brefni O'Rorke Michael O'Callaghan
Olga Lindo Mrs. Edwards
Eddie Golden Terence Delaney
David Ward Oscar Pryce
Kathleen Boutall Women on Train
Kenneth Buckley RTO
Gerald Case Col. Dennington
Everley Gregg
James Harcourt Grandfather
Kathleen Harrison Waitress
Michael Howard Hawkins
Harry Hutchinson Chief Mourner
Katie Johnson Old Lady
John Salew Man in Bookshop
Norman Shelley Man in Straw Hat
Torin Thatcher Policeman
David Tomlinson Intelligence Officer
George Woodbridge Steve
Technical Credits
Frank Launder Director, Screenwriter
William Alwyn Score Composer
Wilkie Cooper Cinematographer
Sidney Gilliat Producer, Screenwriter
Thelma Myers Editor
Wolfgang Wilhelm Screenwriter
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Title Sequence [3:10]
2. Inheritance [3:13]
3. Coming of Age [5:21]
4. Dublin [4:53]
5. Dad's War Buddy [4:52]
6. Contact [4:57]
7. Fishing [4:47]
8. Sitting on A Thistle [4:20]
9. Identity Switch [4:32]
10. What Now [7:16]
11. Disposal [4:14]
12. Cover-Up [5:13]
13. Eye Exercises [5:20]
14. Luxury in Liverpool [4:33]
15. Fitful Sleep [4:54]
16. Doing Their Best [4:43]
17. Searching for the Girl [5:01]
18. A Retired Spy [6:08]
19. The Winning Number [4:32]
20. Poor Wee Sister [9:05]
21. No Reason [6:39]
22. An Irish Jig [4:37]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play Movie
   Scene Selection
   Theatrical Trailer
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