A pictorially attractive but dramatically vacuous study of modern-style infidelity, Strangers When We Meet is easy on the eyes but hard on the intellect. A bunch of maladjusted suburbanites are thrown together in Evan Hunter’s screenplay (from his novel), and what comes out is an old-fashioned soap opera.
Brilliant architect Kirk Douglas is upset because his spouse (Barbara Rush) is overly concerned with balancing the family budget. Meanwhile, housewife Kim Novak is disturbed over being taken for granted by her undersexed mate (John Bryant). Out of this germ of marital instability, a feverishly passionate affair blossoms between Douglas and Novak via a series of trysts. But unstable, sharp-eyed neighbor Walter Matthau, putting two and two together and coming up with an odd number, decides to even things up by getting into the act.
It is a rather pointless, slow-moving story, but it has been brought to the screen with such skill that it charms the spectator into an attitude of relaxed enjoyment, much the same effect as that produced by a casual daydream fantasy. Douglas does well by his role, and Novak brings to hers that cool, style-setting attitude that is her trademark.