7.4/10
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180 user 102 critic

The Stranger (1946)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | August 1946 (USA)
An investigator from the War Crimes Commission travels to Connecticut to find an infamous Nazi.

Director:

Orson Welles

Writers:

Anthony Veiller (screenplay), Victor Trivas (adaptation) | 2 more credits »

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Edward G. Robinson ... Mr. Wilson
Loretta Young ... Mary Longstreet
Orson Welles ... Professor Charles Rankin
Philip Merivale ... Judge Adam Longstreet
Richard Long ... Noah Longstreet
Konstantin Shayne ... Konrad Meinike
Byron Keith ... Dr. Jeffrey Lawrence
Billy House ... Mr. Potter
Martha Wentworth ... Sara
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Storyline

Wilson of the War Crimes Commission is seeking Franz Kindler, mastermind of the Holocaust, who has effectively erased his identity. Wilson releases Kindler's former comrade Meinike and follows him to Harper, Connecticut, where he is killed before he can identify Kindler. Now Wilson's only clue is Kindler's fascination with antique clocks; but, though Kindler seems secure in his new identity, he feels his past closing in. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Most Deceitful Man A Woman Ever Loved !


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

August 1946 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Date with Destiny See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,034,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$3,216,000, 31 December 1946
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The quote recited by Mr. Wilson (Edward G. Robinson) is from Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay titled Compensation. "The league between virtue and nature engages all things to assume a hostile front to vice. The beautiful laws and substances of the world persecute and whip the traitor. He finds that things are arranged for truth and benefit, but there is no den in the wide world to hide a rogue. Commit a crime, and the earth is made of glass. Commit a crime, and it seems as if a coat of snow fell on the ground, such as reveals in the woods the track of every partridge and fox and squirrel and mole. You cannot recall the spoken word, you cannot wipe out the foot-track, you cannot draw up the ladder, so as to leave no inlet or clew. Some damning circumstance always transpires. The laws and substances of nature - water, snow, wind, gravitation - become penalties to the thief." See more »

Goofs

Mr.Wilson is hit on the back of the head and knocked out in the gym. The next time we see him he has a medical patch on his forehead. See more »

Quotes

Professor Charles Rankin: Who would think to look for the notorious Franz Kindler in the sacred precincts of the Harper School, surrounded by the sons of America's first families? And I'll stay hidden... till the day when we strike again.
Konrad Meinike: Franz! There will be another war?
Professor Charles Rankin: Of course.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer-colorized version. See more »

Connections

Featured in The World Famous Kid Detective (2014) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Vastly underrated Welles - one of his best films, one of the best thrillers ever
31 March 2002 | by zetesSee all my reviews

The Stranger is a little slow to start. Edward G. Robinson, playing a war crimes detective named Wilson, lets loose one of the right-hand men of an important Nazi war criminal named Franz Kindler (Orson Welles) who escaped prison and managed to erase his identity. He was the mastermind behind the concentration camps. No photographs exist of him, and only this goon might know where he is. Wilson tracks the goon to a small town in Connecticut, where Franz Kindler is posing as a history professor about to marry the daughter of an important politician. Immediately the goon disappears, but the professor arouses Wilson's suspicion.

After the setup is over, The Stranger bolts ahead at a breathless pace. All the clues point to the professor, though there is nothing definitive. When his wife, Mary, finds out (played by Loretta Young), she refuses to believe it. Kindler feeds her a nice lie explaining everything, and she's desperate to believe it. He's not sure that he can trust her.

Welles pulls a ton of suspense out of the situation. He's so good at creating points of tension out of both the simplest means, like a group of college boys on a paper chase, a dog who won't stop digging in the leaves, or something much more gothic, like the ancient, broken-down clock in the church tower. Kindler was an expert on clocks (which is one of the biggest clues), and when he revives this old monster, an iron angel with a sword chases away the devil and then rings the bell to the hour. To get to the top of the tower, an extraordinarily tall ladder must be climbed. This leads to as much or more suspense as existed in the cognate scenes in Hitchcock's Vertigo. In fact, I'm sure Hitchcock watched and liked this film. Everyone knows he admired Welles' later Touch of Evil, which he mimicked in his own Psycho, so why not this film?

The acting is quite brilliant as well. We would expect it from Orson Welles, of course. This is actually one of his very best roles. He is amazing at telling believable lies to his wife and friends, but with the dramatic irony in which the audience is in possession, we see the depth and the nervousness and the evil. Edward G. Robinson has a pretty thankless role for a long time, but nearer the end he begins to expand. We cringe when he coldly suggests that Mary is in mortal danger. He is simply great in the climactic scene (which I won't mention except to say that it is one of the best in film history, although some might find it a bit silly). Loretta Young is also great as a naive wife who so desperately wants to be the perfect wife and believe everything her husband says. If this movie were to be remade today, her character would have been developed further psychologically, but what is here is good. She is also great in the climactic sequence.

Welles' films often have thriller elements, but this is his most thrilling. It's also probably his least philosophical, and almost certainly his most conventional. He made the film as a concession. I think he was allowed to make The Lady of Shanghai in return, which is an even better film than this. That is no matter, though. It's a masterpiece anyway. 10/10.


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