Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

STREAMING SATURDAY! Agatha Christie’s Potboiler, LOVE FROM A STRANGER

Welcome to another edition of Streaming Saturdays, where we embed a free, fabulous film for you to watch right here every week!

It would, of course, be sheer madness for a woman to take Love from a Stranger. But what if that stranger were Basil Rathbone?

And what if her alternative were pretty much the Mayor of Drippyville?

That’s the choice facing Ann Harding in this 1937 thriller based on a short story by Agatha Christie.

Struggling working girl Carol Howard (Harding) wins the lottery—woohoo!—which for some reason is the worst possible news to her dreary fiancé, Ronald (Bruce Seton). Why? For pretty much the same reason that Darren Stevens in Bewitched would rather work for tedious old Mr. Tate than let Samantha use her magic powers to make their life fabulous. Stubborn male pride. (Okay, not really sure why I went off on that TV tangent, but it’s always bugged me.)

Bruce and Carol’s engagement buckles under the hideous strain of her good fortune. But she’s not alone for long: Soon a tall, dark, mysterious stranger enters her life. (This is Christie country, remember, where things like that happen.) She quickly falls for and weds him—and in this case, it’s “Marry in haste, repent in terror.”

Love from a Stranger was deftly directed by Rowland Lee, who always brought an air of atmospheric brooding to whatever genre he worked in, be it horror (Tower of London and Son of Frankenstein), period drama (The Count of Monte Cristo and The Bridge of San Luis Rey) or swashbucklers (Captain Kidd and The Three Musketeers). He also had his own 214-acre movie ranch, which served as the setting for the farmhouses in Friendly Persuasion and Night of the Hunter and the amusement park in Strangers on a Train, among others.

This is the best print I could find, and it’s bit crackly, though that seems to suit the mood. I hope it doesn’t interfere with your enjoyment of this nifty little movie.

And while you’re watching, keep an eye out for Joan Hickson in a small role as Emmy the maid. Almost half a century later, she played Christie’s Miss Marple to perfection in the PBS Mystery! series.

 

STREAMING SATURDAYS is a regular feature on Sister Celluloid, bringing you a free, fabulous film every weekend! You can catch up on movies you may have missed by clicking here! And why not bookmark the page to make sure you never miss another?

8 Comments

  1. Ann Harding is terrific in this movie, especially the turn-the-tables ending. The film was remade about 10 years later, with the same title, only set in the Edwardian era and starring Sylvia Sidney and John Hodiak (whose character, as I recall, is changed into a Latino). You can sometimes find the remake knocking about the internet; I think I saw it on Hulu.

    • Sidney and Hodiak? What an odd combination! I must look for that one!!

  2. This must be the weirdest eeriest characterization Basil Rathbone ever portrayed. What a creepy guy he was. Ann Harding…what a dream she is. the last ten minutes of the movie had me on the edge of my seat. Again…Harding Harding Harding!

  3. This is totally “a nifty little movie”, like you said. So glad you wrote about it – it deserves more love these days.

    P.S. I laughed out loud at your phrase “the Mayor of Drippyville”. He certainly is!

    • Can you imagine being stuck with him? Only a homicidal maniac can make him look tolerable, and just barely!! I’d still be looking over my shoulder at Basil… 🙂

      • Basil is handsome and utterly terrifying in this film. He’s always fab in the villainous roles, isn’t he?

      • Oh yes. And so attractive you find yourself conflicted… or maybe I should just speak for myself! 🙂 Maybe because he always makes even his villains three-dimensional. No moustache-twirling here!!

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