Strangers When We Meti is a delightful little gem made out of glorified glass. It's a strass, it's what they call "Swarovski Crystals" or "Crystal Elements" or whatever. Really just Bohemian glass. As such it has absolutely no value outside of its original mount and context, but within that it sparkles quite delightfully and hell, it might even be mistaken for a diamond. It's certainly no diamond (which is to say it's certainly not art). Just, a delightful little gem, a little ersatz but shiny nevertheless.
Kirk Douglas plays the hipster doofus. Fifty years later to the day every mouthbreathing office drone barely subsisting on a steady diet of processed oil foams and carbonated molasses syrups imagines themselves living and thinking just like the hip, interesting, exciting architect of 1960. Here, have a taste of it :
Spiderman-Batman Joe : Why do I let myself get trapped into doing unimportant--
Barefoot&Pregnant Lucy : Trapped? What do you mean?
SBJ : What do you think happened tonight? You knew I didn't want that job.
BPL : I knew nothing of the sort.
SBJ : Why do you think I left Baxter and Baxter? I was beginning to feel like a machine turning out plastic practical jokes. So again I let myself get forced into a job that doesn't excite me. Doesn't offer any challenge. It's something any architect could handle.
BPL : I didn't force you into anything.
SBJ : You're right, honey. I'm a big boy. I could have said no. Honey, have you any concept of what I'm actually trying to do?
BPL : Apparently not. I'm just a pushy housewife.
SBJ : Do you think it pleases me that I won a prize back in 1952... eight years ago, and that lousy prize has been the high point of my career?
BPL : Now you're ashamed of it? You talk like you're ashamed of it.
SBJ : No. It's just that I'm not the wonder boy anymore. This is 1960--
BPL : Larry, for heaven's sake.
SBJ : Time doesn't stand still, you either change or you die.
BPL : Would you mind telling me how this job is going to kill you? I realize I'm terribly dense and stupid, but I don't understand.
SBJ : Look, for once, just try to understand. I didn't want this job because I want to concentrate on the Altar house. That's something I want. Something that excites me. I've got things I want to state as an architect. And if I don't get them out of me, I'll bust. You know what I'm trying to say? Do you understand?
BPL : I understand, Larry. But what comes after the Altar house? I think we should be grateful to Mr. Baxter. Heaven knows we can use the extra money.
So then. The guy has things to do, things to say, places to go. Missy Deadweight is in the way. What oh-what shall we do ?
The women in this film, not just the guy's wife, not just the guy's lover, but all the women fail (at life, such as it is, for them, then) not through any vice they possess, not through any virtue they lack, not through any intrinsic doom contained in the circumstances or their situation, but through simple, mechanic, unrelenting failure to communicate.
Somehow somebody omitted mentioning to them that the first step to communicating with any degree of efficiency is obedience. There's no meaning without servility, and yet they prance happily, independent-minded and therefore alone, pursuing universal goals in hapless isolation. Children are good, money is needed to support children so money is also good, why is this guy being so difficult ??!?!?!? Or, in the case of the other one, marital bliss comes from faithfullness, so why and how can she suck the cock of the man telling her to suck his cock ?!!?!?!
Kim Novak manages an excellent depiction of the animal in woman, at times subdued, at times enraged, engorged and inflamed, at all times quite impredictable to the woman herself, much like her monthly bleeding. She yields most convincingly, it's probably one of the great roles of American cinema (which is to say kitschema, but even so - it's something).
All of this is obviously irrelevant to anyone sane today, seeing how we already have the perfect solution to the entire host of problems : slavery. A slavegirl, to the degree she's what it says on the tin is completely immune to all this crap, and so her master, architect or not, is excused from spending most of his energy trying to deal with all the crap. You can almost sense it, under the surface, you can almost taste how all these women both pine and yearn for the cold metal of a collar, for the occasional handcuffing and caning, for the occasional bout of public humiliation, in the nude, on their knees... Alas, not for them.
Not for them, the strass stays in its silver mount and sparkles its glassy achievement from there. They have, don't you know, values. They've had, don't you know, educations. They are blessed, didn't you notice, with their own head upon their very own shoulders and in that head with ideas and so therefore what else is needed ?
Turns out a lot else is needed. But on the other hand, turns out there's plenty of time.———
- 1960, by Richard Quine, with Kirk Douglas, Kim Novak. [↩]