Not as a Stranger (1955) starring Robert Mitchum & Olivia de Havilland

At the opening, Lucas Marsh (Robert Mitchum, one of my favorite actors) is an idealistic intern at a private hospital.  Luke has dreamed of being a doctor since childhood, though he comes from very humble roots (his mother is dead and his father is a drunkard).  His best friend is Alfred Boone (Frank Sinatra in a fine supporting role), the jovial son of a comfortable family who loves chasing women.  Al comments to a classmate that though they all want to be doctors, Luke “wants it more- he has to.”  Luke works as a lab researcher, usually late into the night.

While working, Luke strikes up a friendship with a 1st gen. Swedish-American nurse from Minnesota, Kristen (Olivia de Havilland).  She even arranges it so that he and Al can watch an important surgery.  When Luke’s father spends the money his mother saved for his education, he’s desperate (though he conceals it well).  He gets some help from Al and his teacher, Dr. Aarons (Broderick Crawford), but it’s not enough.  Dr. Aarons, who is Jewish, went through a lot of trouble to become a doctor, and sees great potential in Luke.   

When Kris invites Luke and Al to dine with her friends Bruni and Oley (Harry Morgan from M.A.S.H.), Luke learns that Kris has saved quite a bit of money.   It’s obvious that Kris likes Luke more than a friend, so he asks her out.  (After all, she’s a fine nurse with a “pretty face” and “nice figure.”)  After a few dates, he decides to propose, though Al reminds him that he doesn’t love her.  They nearly come to blows (Luke has a hot temper).  “It’s not like that.  Things are not always black and white,” Luke replies.

They marry and move into her little apartment.  They continue with their respective work; Kris helps Luke prepare for his exams and with his people skills.  (Since he has such high standards, it’s difficult for him to tolerate weakness in others.) 

Marsh, you’re one of the most brilliant students we’ve ever had here.  You’ll be a great physician.  Stop living your life like a Greek tragedy, or you’ll muff it!  -Dr. Aarons
After graduation, the couple move to a small town, where Luke shares a practice with Dr. Runkleman (Charles Bickford), the most experienced doctor in the area.  Dr. Marsh is pleasantly surprised to learn that the older man keeps up with the latest research.  The life of a country doctor is tougher and more tiring than anticipated.  

There is also temptation- a wealthy young widow, Mrs. Lange (Gloria Grahame), summons Dr. Marsh to her home late one night (to check him out).  He’s taken aback by her looks and boldness.  At home, Kris wants to start a family. 

The secret of Robert Mitchum’s success(ful) appeal as an actor was his ability to easily combine tough masculinity and tender vulnerability in one persona, unlike any of his peers (John Wayne, William Holden, Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston).  One felt that Mitchum concentrated more on fully and honestly showing all sides of whatever character that he was playing, even the weak and not-so-tough moments… 

A commentor on YouTube

This film is a must-see for any fan of cinema!  It has well-developed characters, great dialogue, and takes the viewer on a journey.  The editing and pacing are also well done; this is important since the film clocks in at 2 hours and 15 minutes.  (The director is a groundbreaker in the field, Stanley Kramer; he also directed Inherit the Wind, The Defiant Ones, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and many others.)  The ending is fitting and very fulfilling- I got a bit teary-eyed.

Film classics to watch on YouTube

Hey all!

Recently, I rewatched Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope (1948) on YouTube.  I’d seen it a few years ago, but didn’t recall the ending.  The stars of the film are John Dall, Farley Grainger (who later starred in Strangers on a Train), and one of my favorite actors of all time- Jimmy Stewart.  This film is very different from the English play it’s based on, mainly because of the censorship rules of its time.  The film is pretty great, technically, which is expected from Hitchcock.  Some of you may also be interested in Rope Unleashed, a 30 minute behind the scenes look with Hume Cronyn, Granger, Patricia Hitchcock (the director’s daughter), and writer Arthur Laurents.

Below are some (full-length) film classics that you can watch (FREE) on YouTube!

Thanks for visiting!


Mary Galante – 1934; starring a young Spencer Tracy

Pygmalion – the inspiration for My Fair Lady; 1938; starring Leslie Howard

Love Story – 1944; inspiration for An Affair to Remember; starring Margaret Lockwood & Stewart Granger

The Stranger – 1946; starring Orson Welles & Edward G. Robinson

Borderline – 1950; starring Fred McMurray, Clare Trevor, & Raymond Burr (best known as Perry Mason)

Witness to Murder – 1954; starring Barbara Stanwyck, George Sanders, & Gary Merrill

Quick opinions of recent views

Black Swan (2010)

We all know the story.  Virginal girl, pure and sweet, trapped in the body of a swan.  She desires freedom but only true love can break the spell.  Her wish is nearly granted in the form of a prince, but before he can declare his love her lustful twin, the black swan, tricks and seduces him.  Devastated the white swan leaps of a cliff killing herself and, in death, finds freedom.

This film was highly hyped when it came out, but I think it’s overrated.  It’s edited well and shot beautifully.  There is an atmosphere of claustrophobia in the film, reflecting the very circumscribed life of the main character, NYC-based ballerina Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman).  It was nice to see veteran actress Barbara Hershey as Nina’s overly-concerned mother.  Too bad not much was done with Winona Ryder’s role.  The meaning of the ending is up to the viewer to decide! 

House of Games (1987)

What I’m talking about comes down to a more basic philosophial principle: Don’t trust nobody.

In David Mamet’s film noir (done in his usual style), respected Chicago psychiatrist/author Margaret Ford (Lindsay Crouse) tries to help a troubled young patient with an IOU.  She’s is drawn into the world of  con man Mike (Joe Mantegna), a smooth/charismatic character who teaches her about “hustling” (through real-world experiences).  Margaret can’t resist the dark side, nor Mike, though she may be be the biggest “patsy” in the game.  

You say I acted atrociously.  Yes.  I did.  I do it for a living.

I recommend this film for Mantegna’s fine performance, as well as for the plot twists.  However, I preferred The Winslow Boy and The Spanish Prisoner (two great Mamet films).     

Please Believe Me (1950)

This film has some nice moments/dialogue, but is pretty uneven.  It takes too long to set up the premise, but that’s not unusual for older films.  Sensible single gal, Alison Kirbe (Deborah Kerr) of London, receives a telegram from Texas, that she has inherited a livestock ranch from an old friend. It is plastered throughout newspapers that Alison has become a rich heiress, and is sailing to the United Slates alone to claim her inheritance.  Smooth-taking gambler Terence (Robert Walker from Strangers on a Train), laid-back playboy Jeremy (Peter Lawford), and Jeremy’s no-nonsense lawyer, Matthew (Mark Stevens) take an interest in Alison aboard the ship.

Rage in Heaven (1941)

I wanted to see this film since a young Ingrid Bergman is in the lead role.  I recommend this film, as does my dad.  Stella (Ingrid Bergman), a refugee/ personal secretary to wealthy English widow Mrs. Monrell, accepts the marriage proposal of her son, Philip (Robert Montgomery).  This is a bit of a surprise since Philip seemed to encourage a relationship between his college  friend, Ward Andrews (George Sanders from All About Eve) and Stella.  After Stella and Philip get married, he assumes the lead management role in the family’s steel business.  Philip’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic, both at home and in the office.  How will Stella, Ward, and those involved in the steelworks cope?

My ISNA experience

Hey all!

Every once in a while, you have a “fish out of water” moment.  One such moment happened to me last SAT when I attended the ISNA Matrimonial Banquet (basically speeddating on steroids w/ chaperones) here in DC.  I didn’t take my camera along, so I don’t have pics to share.  My dad wanted to see some pics!  I wore a dressy beige pleated blouse with small white dots (H&M), white capri pants (The Loft), dressy metallic silver-colored flats w/ silver decorations (Anne Klein), and some coordinating jewelry (small pearl earrings, beaded necklace, and rings).  It was a very hot/humid day, but I was very comfortable in this outfit.  I wore make-up (which I usually don’t do), but it was very natural.

Though most of the talks/seminars/etc. were held in the Walter Washington Convention Center, the banquet was held in a large ballroom a block away at the Renaissance Hotel.  I didn’t know what to expect!  Before the event, I noticed a petite young lady (also w/ glasses) on the metro; she was wearing a dressy salwar suit.  I guessed (correctly) that we were headed to the same place.  Also on the same train were 2 college gal pals who chatted happily in both English and Arabic; they wore badges around denoting that the were volunteers at ISNA.

When I got inside the convention center, it was about 3:45PM.  I’m running late, I thought!  I walked for a while, then finally got to the registration booth.  I had to wait in line to find out where exactly the event was being held; I wasn’t alone, there were several others w/ slightly confused expressions.   The gal from the metro walked over to the hotel w/ me and we chatted.  She was in her late 20s, very sweet, and Pakistani-American.  She decided to come upon the recommendation of a close gal pal (who attended ISNA in Chicago last year).  “How else are you going to meet people?” she commented.  We got our badges from the college-age volunteers,  then talked/joked for a while.  She commented that there were so many beautiful outfits.  I realized that I wasn’t that nervous after all.

The environment seemed a bit tense (and disorganized) to me, at first, since so many people were gathered around in the hallways and corridors.  A few people were in groups, either w/ their family members or friends who were at the event.  It seemed like almost every woman had some sort of designer purse!  Hardly anyone was wearing jeans; it was all dresses, salwar kameezes, suits, and glamorous make-up.  There was some wait time (15 mins.) before we could go into the room,  so I went off to wash my hands and brush my hair.  Several young gals were getting ready, all dressed to the nines (according to their tastes).  There were 2 sisters (one wearing a headscarf, the other not) fixing their makeup while their mom and grandma waited to another side.

When it was time to go into the event, there was some confusion.  Should we line up or just file in?  The volunteers ushered us in; I noticed that some of these folks were older women.  There were many long tables; the few round small tables were for the parents/relatives.  There was just water to drink at this time.  As with speeddating events I’d attended in the past, the women were on one side and the men were on the other side of the table.  The men rotated; the women stayed seated.  We were seated according to our age group, I learned from one of the guys.   (The gals in my group were aged 30-35; the guys were 32-37.)  I think the largest group consisted of the 25-30 age group; they had more rows of tables, we had 2 rows.

The lady sitting on my right was Pakistani-American (raised overseas), very petite, quiet (at first), serious, and wore a cotton salwar suit of black and white.  The white embroidery was really intricate/pretty; she got it from the old country.  She didn’t wear a headscarf, but covered her hair with her dupatta (the long cloth that coordinates  with salwar suits).  Unlike most of the other gals, she wore no makeup, but I though she had a nice face w/ very small features.  She looked a bit worried, so I decided to chat w/ her.  She was studying for her Masters (CRN) and lived in a small Michigan town.  She had never been to this type of event either, so she asked me more about it.  I didn’t know many details, but we soon learned (from one of the guys sitting nearby) that the event was 4 hours long!  He showed us a folder with a schedule inside; some people had them, but most of us didn’t.

The guys sitting across from us were very nice and easy to talk to.  Since it took quite a long time for everyone to take their seats, and for the moderators/volunteers to get started, we had time to get to know each other.  The lady on my left was petite and very pretty; she wore a beautiful teal-colored blazer, jeans, and very high-heeled shoes.  She was wearing a lot of makeup, even though she didn’t need it.  She was from Memphis, TN, and had attended this event twice before.  She talked mostly with the gal on her left.

Once we got started, we talked with each guy for 3 minutes.  Few people commented that 4 or 5 mins would’ve been better.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that most of the men were born/raised in the West (US, UK, and Canada).  A good segment of the guys (perhaps 50%) were Pakistani-American.  I was disappointed that hardly anyone brought their business cards!  (ISNA should’ve been more clear about that.)  I had my networking cards; I gave them out to the (few) guys who were living in the DC area.   (FYI: ISNA doesn’t store any info on anyone in any database, so you have to be proactive.)

A little after 6PM, we got a short break.  This was the time to get some fresh air, food, etc.  I called my dad and mom to give them my impression.  The food was not what I expected!  (Hey, we paid $79 for a “banquet,” didn’t we?)  There were a few tables outside the ballroom with bread, cheeses, crackers, 2 types of pasta, 2 types of sauce, cookies, brownies, tea, and coffee.  I grabbed a bit of food before it was time to go back in around 6:30PM.

A couple who met at ISNA back in 2010 said a few words.  Well, the wife (American desi) spoke a bit, the hubby (immigrant) not so much.  (He looked nervous.)  An imam from the ADAMS Center (from Sterling, VA) did his speech and recited a brief prayer.  I didn’t understand all of what he was saying b/c of his thick accent; he was an African immigrant with a fluffy salt and pepper beard.  I had heard of his center from some Bangladeshi American acqaintances of mine.  One guy rudely mumbled: “I didn’t sign-up for this!”  That was unnecessary, if you ask me.   Then we had the 2nd round of mini-dates, followed by the social hour (started at 8PM).  This was the time to get some more food and talk to anyone you chose.  By 8:30PM, I was pretty tired, as were many others.  Some were waiting around for their friends or family to call or pick them up.  Overall, it was a good experience!  (Some of the men thought so, too.)

Below are my notes on the single guys I met, starting w/ where they were from, profession, etc.

1) Chicago, business analyst, very handsome, great hair & personality, friends volunteered at ISNA & encouraged him to attend, dad is a food scientist who verfies halal food products/businesses, got to know a lot about him (b/c it took long time for event to start)

2) MD, airport shuttle bus driver, fluffy beard, socially awkward (didn’t say much & complained about the ISNA set-up), was the only African guy I noticed at the event (surprisingly)

3) Not sure where he was from, balding, glasses, lawyer (went to Cooley, like I did for 2 terms); I had a “foot in mouth” moment when I said “I didn’t go to a good law school” (but he didn’t mind).

4) Small town MN, finishing training to be cardiologist, raised outside Liverpool, England, great smile/personality, came w/ mom & younger sister, really enjoyed talking w/ him

5) Philly, orthopedic surgeon at St. Luke’s

6) Philly, bald, light-colored eyes (bluish), software engineer & owns a car dealership, very confidant

7) Chicago, MSU, dr.

8) Charlotte, same name as famous Bollywood actor, business analyst & web designer, very handsome, very confidant, really liked talking w/ him

9) Philly, pharmacist (like my little sister), his sister lives in Indiana (like my mom)

10) Philly, healthcare IT PM

11) Toronto, accountant, short hair, nice looks, dressed very well in tweed jacket (his dad’s), confidant, very easy to talk to, told me about R.I.S. conference (held each year around X-mas in his town)

12) NJ, family dr.

13) MD, raised in Kuwait until college, family originally from India, works as a web developer for small Arlington-based company (will look up, since I need a job), nice hair, glasses, pleasant (but a bit shy), was a little overwhelmed my the number of people & noise, talked w/ him later during social hour, asked him to keep in touch (since we’re both local)

14) VA, dentist, balding, serious demeanor, grew up in Pakistan (I assumed), at social hour he talked w/ the woman who had been sitting on my right (they exchanged cell #s and spoke a bit in Urdu)

15) DC, grew up in Washington state, neatly trimmed little beard, diplomatic job w/ State Dept (gave out his business card), while talking he was sending text messages (not cool)

16) Fresno, CA, engineer, easygoing, chatty (we mainly talked re: movies)

17) Small town AK, Comp Sci PhD student planning to stay in US & teach, from Turkey, pleasant but reserved (didn’t reveal much)

18) TX, works for internet start-up

19) VA, works at IBM (contractor to DOD), we talked re: jobs

20) NYC, internet communications (own business)

21) VA, lived all over the world, pleasant, has his own consulting business, wrote down his email for me (when I mentioned looking for a job)

22) MD, bald, works in construction management, family all in MD also, easy to talk to, gave me his business card

23) Calgary (Ontario), Pakistani immigrant, shy, barely said anything (was shuffling some papers)

24) St. Louis (but moving to San Fran), dentist, loves traveling, originally from Egypt, too excited (IMO)

25) Chicago, really into sports, sys mgr in transportation industry

26) NYC (Brooklyn), was sitting at the end of my table at start of event, dressed more casually than others (black T & dark-colored jeans), very confidant, great smile, talked w/ him after break and at social hour.

27) TX, dressed up (dark suit w/ charcoal shirt), financial analyst, nice eyes, cofidant (but in easygoing way), very easy to talk w/ him

28) Ontario, had a good convo w/ him (but can’t recall it- LOL)

29) TX, expressive, anesthesiologist

30) Chandler (AZ), small beard, works for Amazon, got his BS, MS, & PhD from UA (Tucson), has been in US since 1993, knows many of the same Bangladeshi Americans that my family & I knew back in our Tucson days (prior to 2002), also knows acqaintance of mine from NYC (who recently married a woman from Tucson), very reserved/conservative (didn’t shake hands)

31) Chicago suburb, Chase project manager, didn’t say much

Wow, that was a long post! (FYI: About 400 singles came to this event.)

Thanks for reading,


P.S. For a single guy’s take, read Looking for Love and Finding Awkwardness at ISNA.

Here is a Washington Post article re: the event.

P.P.S.  Since I NEVER learn the first time, here’s my account of the second convention!

Update on the job front

Hey all! 

It’s been a long time since I’ve updated you on my life (aside from movies).  Things are not going as I’d like- I was laid off exactly one month ago after nearly 3 yrs on a project.  I haven’t had any work due or any meetings w/ my 2 (fed) clients since mid-June.  The contract my team was under (w/ FMCSA, an agency under DOT)  finished at the end of July.   The team I worked w/ is smaller by 3 people; 2 of them (developers) found other jobs pretty quickly.  I’m not sure re: the one of the ladies who worked on graphics/web content; I hope she has a job, too. 

Now, all of this was a shock, but too much.  I knew since January re: end of the contract, but not the nitty gritty details.  It took some time before I learned the real deal- my project was given to another contracting company!  So, what to do now?  Look for jobs!, of course!  October is the start of the fed fiscal year, so maybe I can get back on my old project then; I would have to be hired my the (bigger) company.  I have some savings, and think I can get by on DC unemployment, but it’s not very generous (only $359/wk).  Maryland (where I live) gives more, but I can’t claim that, since I worked in DC.  Some other states give more than $500 /wk in benefits! 

My mom (who still lives back in Indy) is the one who motivates me to not get too upset about this situation.  She has gone through a lot in the last 10 months, and come out as a survivor.  She never makes a bid deal/fuss of herself, but gets through life w/ a positive outlook!  And there is more to come…

 Thanks for reading (and check back again),