The Cinematic City: “the meaning is in the shadows”

When Strangers Marry (aka Betrayed 1944)

When Strangers Marry (aka Betrayed 1944)
King Bros/Monogram 67 mins
Director: William Castle
Cinematography: Ira Morgan
Score: Dimitri Tiomkin

“as When Strangers Marry illustrates, it is precisely through the triggering of sensations that film noir speaks most eloquently. A mode of signification that privileges connotation over the denotative, cause-and-effect logic of linear narrative, the highly-wrought noir aesthetic ensures that the ‘meaning’ of the noir city is not to be found in the narrative’s surface details but in its shadows, in the intangibles of tone and mood.” – Frank Krutnik, ‘Something More Than Night’, The Cinematic City (ed David B. Clarke), p 98-99

When Strangers Marry, made by the King Brothers, an independent production team signed to Monogram, was shot in ten days for under $50,000 and marketed as a “nervous A”. But Monogram could not get a percentage deal and the movie opened as a b, doing good business and garnering critical praise. James Agee said of the movie: “I have seldom, for years now, seen one hour so energetically and sensibly used in a film. Bits of it, indeed, gave me a heart-lifted sense of delight in real performance and perception and ambition which I have rarely known in any film context since my own mind, and that of moving-picture making, were both suffi­ciently young”.

2 thoughts on “The Cinematic City: “the meaning is in the shadows””

  1. Well, Sir, now this is a timely post as far as I’m concerned, as I will be seeing this film in the upcoming “The Films of William Castle” festival scheduled in August at Manhattan’s Film Forum. I have not yet seen the film, but have watched a number of Castle features (he is admittedly a low-budget horror specialist) and have a childhood affinity for HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL particularly. I would say THE TINGLER is another fine effort within these limited parameters. But I am definitely most interested in BETRAYED, and greatly respect James Agee’s views on low-budget cinema. Agee, as you’ll recall was a great admirer of the humanism in Val Lewtons’s pictures for RKO.


  2. Hi! Tony and Sam Juliano,
    Tony, like Sam Juliano, I have never watched When Strangers Marry
    (Oh! yes, I have already checked my man that live in Canada, not Havana…film list and it appears that he does have a copy of the film.)

    Therefore, Sam Juliano, you know what this mean…I will be forwarding a copy of the film to you too. By the way, Tony thanks, for the heads-up!)

    Because I plan to post the information about the screening of “When Strangers Marry” on my Film Noir Ning.

    [SideNote:(Author Spencer Selby, mentioned this film in his book Dark City: The Film Noir…quite favorably too!)]

    DeeDee 😉


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