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PHOTOGRAPHY

WE WERE STRANGERS

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 106 minutes, Previews

STUDIO: Columbia/SPHE

RELEASE DATE: 2-22-2005

ANALYSIS: WE WERE STRANGERS is one of the John Houston films that is rarely seen and is said to be controversial. It is a little known classic that has a story full with drama and intrigue. It brings up the question of how far should people go to rebel against an unjust government. Should they be as violent as the people in power and is it fair to have innocents die if it means killing the whole government in one spot for the freedom of Cuba from tyranny?

WE WERE STRANGERS follow two people who are caught up in the revolution against the government. Tony Fenner (John Garfield) returns to Cuba to take up the fight and joins a small band of rebels known as The Organization. China Valdes (Jennifer Jones) joins after her brother (who is a part of the Organization) is gunned down in front of her by the chief of the secret police (Pedro Armendariz). She want revenge against the man who killed her brother. Fenner devises a risky plan to dig a tunnel under the cemetery and explode a big bomb when the heads of the government attend a funeral of someone important that the Organization will kill. Meanwhile, the chief of the secret police tries to hound her for information about Tony Fenner.

The movie is a little seen classic where the last fifteen minutes are my favorite part of it. I get excited about it every time I watch that part of WE WERE STRANGERS. Jennifer Jones pulls in a great performance as China. Fantastically directed by John Houston, one of his best films.

VIDEO/AUDIO: WE WERE STRANGERS is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.33:1 Full Frame. It is a Black and White film that has some specks of dirt and some sparkles early in the movie (and in the last few minutes). Some grain is present and even more in a few scenes with low light. Most of the time, the movie does shine with good image detail. The blacks and grays are represented well. Given some of the budgets and work that go into restoring black and white movies to DVD, WE WERE STRANGERS is a good transfer.

The movie is presented in English Mono. Dialogue always comes through clearly. Subtitle options include English (if you don't want the Close Captioning), French, Japanese, or Spanish.

PREVIEWS: CASTLE KEEP, BEHOLD A PALE HORSE, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA

DVD ART/MENU DESIGN: I have to congratulate the people who did the art for the DVD sleeve art and the disc art. It's beautiful.

FINAL ANALYSIS: WE WERE STRANGERS is a gem in every sense of the word. The drama is intense and nerve shattering. If you're a fan of John Houston or old movies, WE WERE STRANGERS is a must to own on DVD.

this DVD Review is (c)2-11-2005 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com and look for additional content (and site updates) at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia