Movies and Memories: “Lovers and Other Strangers”

In today’s guest post, Bill Dunphy remembers one of his favorite films:

These days I find myself migrating to the old comedies, the classics…at least “my” classics. I fully appreciate that what denotes a film as a classic may be just 20 years, if you are 23. Conversely in my case, at 77, I have a few decades of classics in my mind.

I watched one of my all time favorites the other night, not a big blockbuster, but a film that is hilarious to me all the same: Lovers and Other Strangers. It is an ensemble movie, that still tickles me much, even after 50 years. It had among its cast Gig Young, Cloris Leachman, Harry Guardino, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, all of whom were big stars when the film hit theaters.

Lesser known at that time were some other actors who appeared. Bea Arthur shines here, years before Maude and her many other TV series. Richard Castellano delivers an Academy Award-nominated performance here, he would go on to star in the television series The Super and to win further acclaim as Peter Clemenza in The Godfather. Bonnie Bedelia, whose career is still going strong today, is featured decades before she played John McClane’s wife in the first two Die Hard films. (My personal favorite of her movies was Needful Things, an adaptation of the Stephen King story of the same name).

Lovers and Other Strangers is also noteworthy for marking the film debut of Diane Keaton, two years before her Godfather role, and seven before her Looking for Mr. Goodbar and, as a Best Actress Academy Award winner, for Annie Hall.

Also included in the cast was Anne Jackson — who was most recognizable back then from her many TV and film appearances in a career that lasted from 1949 to 2008!. (Anne was, coincidentally, married for 66 years to Eli Wallach, another prolific actor, although he is not in this film). Bob Dishy, a face you would recognize even if the name escapes you, had a very active acting career, and was always a positive addition to anything he chose to be in! I especially liked his roles in both The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Frasier.

This film hits home to me with it’s wonderful humor and truth. It is primarily set at an out-of-town wedding, and the interplay of characters along with several twists and stories within stories make it more enjoyable each time I watch it. The music is great as well, so much so that Lovers and Other Strangers won an Academy Award for Best Original Song with the tune “For All We Know.”

Try to remember what movies made an impression on you and revisit them. For this is as close to a time machine as we’ll get. That reminds me, I like The Time Machine with Rod Taylor. Maybe I’ll watch that tonight…

Bill Dunphy enjoys photography, cooking, reading, and, of course, movies — of which he has about 350 in his library.