THE STRANGER

(1946)
With Edward G. Robinson, Orson Welles, Loretta Young, Philip Merivale, Richard Long
Directed by Orson Welles
Reviewed by JL

"Anybody know what time it is?"      Orson Welles made THE STRANGER with the intention of proving that he could make a highly commercial Hollywood film.  He succeeded but couldn't parlay the success into a more lucrative career with greater creative freedom, which was his ultimate goal.  Welles plays Nazi war criminal Franz Kindler, one of the masterminds of the Holocaust, who has erased his identity and now lives in Connecticut as Charles Rankin, a prep-school instructor with an unsuspecting wife (Loretta Young).  FBI war-crimes investigator Edward G. Robinson arrives in town posing as an antique dealer, whereupon he slyly affords Kindler enough rope to hang himself.  The film is perhaps best known for its climactic scene in the town clock tower, which combines perfectly controlled suspense with Welles's innovative visuals.  Welles had the splashier role, but Robinson nearly steals the picture by taking a rather underwritten character and infusing him with enough subtlety to seem well-rounded.  THE STRANGER is one of those public-domain films found in most DVD bargain bins, but unlike the majority of such films, a good print was used as the source material, making it a real bargain.  4 - JL

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