Strangers When We Meet (1960): Suburban Adulterous Affair, Starring Kirk Douglas and Kim Novak

An adulterous affair between two married neighbors, played by Kirk Douglas and Kim Novak, is at the center of Strangers When We Meet, an old-fashioned, predictable melodrama that’s borderline banal.

Directed by Richard Quine, the movie was adapted by Evan Hunter from his novel of the same name,

Douglas plays Larry Coe, a Los Angeles architect who’s married¬† to a bright wife, Eve, raising two kids. Larry wants to do more imaginative work than the commercial buildings he’s been designing. To that extent, he meets author Roger Altar to discuss building a house that will be an “original experiment.”

Novak plays Maggie Gault, one of his neighbors whose son is friends with his. Maggies reaffirms Larry’s philosophy, claiming that the more unconventional houses are the best, a much needed encouragement he fails to get from his wife.

Both Larry and Maggie are dissatisfied in their marriages. Larry’s wife is too hard-headed and practical and Maggie’s husband lacks interest in having sex with her. They begin an affair, meeting in secret, while knowing that’s wrong.

When neighbor Felix Anders snoops around about the affair, his leering and insinuations make Larry realize the risks involved. He tells Maggie they shouldn’t see each other for a while. Meanwhile, Felix makes a pass on Larry’s wife.

After her near-rape by Felix, Eve wises up and realizes that Larry has been unfaithful and decides to confronts him. They agree to stay together and move to Hawaii, where Larry has been offered a job.

After Larry phones her, Maggie makes one last appointment to meet him at the newly completed home, and they discuss the impossibility of being together.¬† The House’s contractor shows up, thinking that Maggie is Larry’s wife. The couple then savor the irony of his remark and Maggie drives away.

Kirk Douglas as Larry Coe
Kim Novak as Margaret Gault
Ernie Kovacs as Roger Altar
Barbara Rush as Eve Coe
Walter Matthau as Felix Anders
Virginia Bruce as Mrs. Wagner
Kent Smith as Stanley Baxter
Helen Gallagher as Betty Anders
John Bryant as Ken Gault
Sue Ane Langdon as Daphne
Nancy Kovack as Marcia