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Case Number 14496

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Never Love A Stranger

Lionsgate // 1958 // 93 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Roy Hrab (Retired) // September 11th, 2008

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All Rise...

Judge Roy Hrab will never love this movie.

The Charge

Two Legendary Names. One Relentless Stand-Off.

Opening Statement

You've seen this type of movie before a thousand times. So, why should you watch this one? Well, let's see if there's something worthy of viewing here.

Facts of the Case

Frank Kane's (John Drew Barrymore) mother died at childbirth, leaving him to be raised at a Catholic orphanage in New York. He finds his way to working for a mob boss, Silk Fennelli (Robert Bray). However, the orphanage discovers that Kane is Jewish and, as a result, the law dictates that he be transferred to another orphanage. Rather than move, Kane goes on the run for seven years, leaving his girlfriend, Julie (Lita Milan, The Left-Handed Gun), behind. When he returns to New York he overthrows Fannelli and takes control of the mob…temporarily.

The Evidence

Don't let the DVD case fool you. Steve McQueen (Papillion), as Martin Cabell, is not the star of this film. The lead is Barrymore, who is in almost every scene.

So, if McQueen isn't a reason to watch, what's left? Well, Barrymore's claim to fame is being the son of John Barrymore and father of Drew Barrymore (50 First Dates). Other than that, there's not much here. Never Love A Stranger is an unremarkable film with an unremarkable story and unremarkable performances.

The film starts out with Kane and Cabell as teenagers (played by the adult actors) on the make. Kane is a decent young lad who shines shoes and then runs numbers for the mob for some easy cash. Cabell is the studious one. Then Kane discovers he is Jewish. At this point, it makes sense for the story to follow Kane undertake some introspection into his identity, or explore Jewish-Catholic relations and/or anti-Semitism. However, except for some slight incidents, this does not materialize in a meaningful or intelligent way. Instead, communicated via a cheesy voiceover, it is revealed that Kane runs off for seven years, living as an itinerant worker. Yeah, that makes sense.

When the action restarts the movie abruptly and inexplicably changes gears, lurching into a generic and sloppy mobster flick. Kane's Jewish heritage is pretty much a non-factor for the rest of the film. The rise and fall of a gangster storyline that remains is just a plain bore. There are no surprises or suspense, and just the briefest of action scenes, making the feature's 93 minute running feel much too long.

The acting is pedestrian at best. Much of this is caused by the script's lousy dialogue and a story that gives the cast next to nothing to work with. Barrymore is not convincing as a tough orphan who becomes a mob boss. McQueen fares no better as a naïve and idealistic attorney. There is no evidence here of the charisma and toughness that made him a superstar. Milan plays the stereotypical film noir dame with little conviction.

The video and audio are passable, but as unremarkable as the movie. The video is clear enough, but the colors are not sharp or bright, and grain and scratches are consistently present throughout. The audio is fine.

There are no extras.

Closing Statement

There is really no reason to watch this, unless you are a McQueen aficionado or an admirer of the Barrymore clan.

Save your money and time for other pursuits.

The Verdict


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Scales of Justice

Video: 70
Audio: 75
Extras: 0
Acting: 55
Story: 40
Judgment: 49

Perp Profile

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 1958
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Bad
• Classic
• Crime
• Film Noir

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb

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