My mother was brought up in a family ruled by a very orthodox old curmudgeon—sorry, gentleman—who believed cinema was inherently evil. This was my great-grandfather, and thanks to his restrictions, the only films my mother and her siblings were allowed to watch were The Ten Commandments and Quo Vadis. After his death, though, the family let themselves go to seed. No, they didn’t start watching all the porn they could lay their hands on (I doubt there was much floating around in the Calcutta of the 60’s, anyway), but they certainly began seeing some films that, while not evil by any stretch of imagination, would probably not have won great-granddad’s approval. The Innocents. The Three Faces of Eve. And this one, a thought-provoking, disturbing film that raises a lot of questions.
I have no compunctions about admitting that when it comes to cinema, frivolity is right up my street. Comedy (even slapstick), romance, war, noir, Western, musical, sword and sandals: all is grist to my mill. Happy endings, the vanquished villain, the long fadeout on the kiss between the beautiful heroine and her handsome hero, and I’m happy too.
Which is why I was surprised at my own reaction to Not as a Stranger. It isn’t frivolous, not by a long shot; the heroine and the hero are ill matched; and the hero (maybe protagonist would be a better word) isn’t even a particularly nice character. Despite all of that, I still liked it—a lot.