The Stranger (1946) Poster

(1946)

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8/10
Taught, suspenseful thriller
Alberto-730 May 2003
This film has been knocked by many people saying that Orson Welles was forced to work within the strict confines of the Hollywood system. I have absolutely no problem with this. Welles is a master craftsman. He made great films, period. In an interview he said that the studio cut out " a couple of reels" that take place in South America at the beginning of the story that he felt was the best part of the movie. As a viewer I feel that the film is compact and taut. Adding more to it would not help(in my opinion). On the contrary, I think adding more might make the film sluggish. As it stands the film remains dark. You feel that evil is present. You are just not sure what is going to happen next.

The performances in this film are for the most part excellent. Edward G. Robinson is amazing. This could have been a cardboard thin good-guy part. Instead he turns the character of Wilson into a smart, cunning hero. He is self-assured not obsessed. He understands what most people in the town don't: Kindler is a monster who is capable of anything. To catch such a man you have to be several steps ahead of him. Also excellent is Konstantin Shayne as Meinike. You can see the fear and madness in his eyes as he repeats "I am travelling for my health, I am travelling for my health..." before going through customs. Make no mistake, this man is "an obscenity that must be destroyed" to quote Wilson. Just look at his scene with the photographer in South America. He is used to people following his orders. Welles is also very good as Kindler/Rankin. There are moments that you actually feel sympathy for him. His obsession with fixing the town clock is very significant. Here is a man who needs things to be precise and structured. He wants total control of his environment(a good example is how he treats his wife). Welles hints at this man's mania but keeps him human. Even though you want him to be caught, you can't help wondering if he'll get away. Loretta Young is unfortunately just average in this film. She has some good moments (especially in the final scene when she confronts Rankin/Kindler)but her hysterics are just too much. The scene where Wilson is showing her the Nazi atrocities is well played. She keeps a certain composure that works well.

Overall, a very well made thriller with top notch performances and solid direction by one of cinema's masters. I give it 8 clock towers out of 10.
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7/10
I'm traveling for my health
CelluloidRehab31 January 2005
I picked up this movie, mostly because of the cover and the price ($4). I was happily surprised as to the quality of the movie.

The story takes place after the end of World War II. Edward G. Robinson plays a government official named Mr. Wilson. He is in charge of the Allied War Crime commission. He is looking for an elusive war criminal. His name is Franz Kindler (Orson Welles). He is suppose to be the one who came up with the Nazi plan of mass annihilation. There is no evidence, nor any photographs of Kindler. To find Franz, Wilson releases Kindler's assistant (Konrad). Konrad inadvertently leads Wilson to Harper, Connecticut. Kindler is hiding out at an all boys school as a professor named Charles Rankin. Konrad arrives on Charles' wedding day. He is getting married to the daughter of a liberal Supreme Court justice.

This movie is definitely film noir, in the lighting and the grittiness of the events. It is also quite evident that this movie was directed by Welles himself. If you have seen any one of his movies, you can see how he functions. The story is enjoyable, if not slightly predictable (especially if you have seen other film noir films or have listened to any golden age radio programs). Overall, it is nice to see Edward G. Robinson playing the good guy for a change. I also thought Billy House had a standout performance as Mr. Potter (the owner of the local general store). He provides most of the comedy relief. I highly recommend this movie for fans of Edward G. Robinson, Welles or the film noir genre.

-Celluloid Rehab
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Good Thriller With Welles, Robinson, & More
Snow Leopard4 March 2005
It's quite interesting to see two acting legends like Orson Welles and Edward G. Robinson working together, and with a cast that includes those two plus Loretta Young, along with an interesting story, "The Stranger" is a pretty good thriller.

Welles and Robinson play an interesting cat-and-mouse game in the search for a former Nazi who is hiding out in a peaceful Connecticut town. It's fair to point out, as others have done, that the dialogue at times leaves a little to be desired, but Welles and Robinson have more than enough ability to carry it off anyway.

Loretta Young has a difficult role as the wife of Welles's character. The script does her no favors, either, but she gives a creditable performance as a character who is important to the story. Among the supporting cast, Billy House particularly stands out, getting surprisingly good mileage out of his role as the store-keeper.

Perhaps the most creative aspect of the movie is the effective use of the clock tower, both as a plot device and as an idea, along with the related themes of clocks and time. The tense climax makes good use of all of these elements.

Welles and Robinson were both parts of so many outstanding movies that sometimes their merely good movies can seem to suffer by comparison. As long as you don't try to compare "The Stranger" with some other film, but just watch it for itself, it's a good thriller and an entertaining movie.
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10/10
Fascinating Thriller
Enrique-Sanchez-5625 July 2004
The Stranger was directed by Orson Welles but he did not adapt it to the screen. Although this is seen as a detraction from the whole by some who have seen it, I believe that Welles' deft directing and penetrating acting is what makes this a Welles film for my taste. He was never a facile actor - but he uses his usual wooden countenance here to the advantage of this role.

Another thing that fascinates me is the underrated status of this engrossing thriller. The action and suspense builds and builds to a peak of excitement that few movies can reach without lots of special effects and Foley work these days. This movie fascinates at every turn without ever seeming as if we are watching art. But art it was in Welles' direction and gentle handling of the unravelling.

Edward G. Robinson is the subtle but welcome prize we receive from this outing. The undercurrents of the horrors that have just come before this movie was made and its actions can be seen seething within his duty to find hidden Nazis. He is methodical and intelligent, it so difficult to see the difference between Robinson the man and Robinson the actor here. He is such a talent that we often mistake his ease for something else but acting -- and of acting he was a master. Plainly seen here as a gift to all of us.

What I like about this and many other good films is how facts are revealed slowly, layer by layer.

Loretta Young was good as the innocent young girl who believes that marriage is a sacred institution, that life has a course to follow which will not be derailed and finds it hard to accept the truth of the horrors behind her marriage.

It was mildly amusing to see a very young Richard Long as the open-minded young man with whom Robinson's character confides certain facts.

I recommend it to fans of psychological thrillers, mysteries and of course, of Mr. Orson Welles. So sad that the studio heads were such disingenuous towards this utter genius of a man who deserved more earnest accolades in his life.

THE STRANGER is not glittering masterpiece but it's a hell of great story that I do not tire of watching...and seeing each piece of the puzzle fall into place.

What MORE could an intelligent person want from a movie?
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7/10
On the dangers of Clock Towers
theowinthrop7 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Peter Cowie's THE CINEMA OF ORSON WELLES does not say much in favor of this film. He felt it was a minor work, and in a sense it is. Welles, having failed in Hollywood terms to produce a blockbuster box office success with KANE, AMBERSONS, and IT'S ALL TRUE, had demonstrated more success as a film actor (JANE EYRE in the 1940s) than as a director. He wanted to show he was able to create a successful film at the box office, and so he agreed to direct this small thriller. But it lacks the depth of the major films of his career, and so Cowie is correct to label it minor.

That does not mean it isn't interesting. Welles was the one of the first directors to tackle the issue of missing Nazi war criminals. The same year as THE STRANGER Hitchcock was filming NOTORIOUS and Charles Vidor did GILDA. All three tackled the plight of fleeing Nazis. NOTORIOUS is about Nazi and Nazi sympathizers led by Claude Rains (as Alex Sebastian) in Rio De Janairo, who are plotting some deviltry involving uranium (Hitch's "MacGuffin"). GILDA's complicated plot deals with George Macready (as Balin Munsen) double crossing German industrialists who trusted him with contracts and papers giving the owner title to their tungsten interests in Argentina. THE STRANGER deals with the search by Wilson, a government agent, for one Franz Kindler, a leading Nazi, who has fled first to Latin America, and then to the United States. It turns out that the devious and clever Kindler has wormed his way into a marriage to the daughter of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Longstreet. In each case, as you see, the fact that the Reich has fallen does not mean the danger is over - the Nazis are planning a come-back.

It has been noted that Welles based Kindler on the character of Martin Bormann, the missing deputy to Hitler and leading adviser in his inner circle. Bormann had back stabbed his way to power at the expense of his predecessor Rudolf Hess. Hess had been showing signs of cracking up by 1941(that Bormann fully took advantage of) and then flew to England in a mad attempt to settle the war there before the invasion of Russia. However, Bormann (unlike Kindler) was not the creator of the "final solution" in the movie - that was Bormann's rival Reinhard Heydrich. Heydrich had been assassinated in 1942, so he was dead and buried years before the war's end and the Nuremburg Trials (where Bormann was found guilty and condemned to death in absentia). I might add another missing Nazi leader is in everyone's mind - Welles has Konrad Meinike (Kindler's assistant) tell people he is on a mission from "the all highest". The deranged Meinike means God, but everyone (including Kindler) thinks he means the seemingly indestructible and missing Adolf Hitler. Details from Soviet archives proving Hitler's suicide were not published until the 1980s.

The film follows the efforts of Wilson in tracking down the missing Kindler. He allows Meinike to get out of prison (he was facing a death sentence) to follow him. Meinike does lead Wilson through Latin America to a town in Connecticut where Kindler is hiding as Charles Rankin, a history teacher in a prep school (where the sons of the nation's elite are groomed for their paths to leadership). Although it is barely commented on in the movie, Kindler/Rankin is in a lovely position to influence the future leaders of the country - to indoctrinate them into neo-Nazis theories. He is laying a groundwork to protect himself, but to continue the Nazi theories. In one scene he mentions the need to destroy the Germans because of their habitual warlike natures. But he retains a dislike of Jews (in the scene mentioned above, he insists Karl Marx is a Jew not a German).

The film has been cut by nearly half an hour. This was the start of the film which dealt with Meinike's "escape" and his journey (followed by Wilson) to and through Latin America. We see the conclusion, when he confronts a photographer who knows where Kindler is hiding. But the missing footage would have been very good to watch - it was a double build up to revealing that the evil Kindler was still alive, but also to lead to the irony of the insane Meinike's seeking out his missing boss to convert him to Christianity, only to be murdered by him. The sequence of the killing of Meinike is a great set piece, and one wishes the missing footage were still available because it would be a fine, ironic conclusion. One can here, as in the slashed up AMBERSONS, see what Welles' concept was meant to be, and what the audience was left with.

The individual portions of the film are quite good, in particular the bits with Billy House as Mr. Potter, and the paper chase sequence. The finale is good too. Kindler is a fanatic about clocks, repairing them whenever he needs recreation. The town's Gothic church has a broken medieval clock with figures. Kindler manages to repair it so the figures move. In the end of the film he is hiding in the tower, and comments on watching the townspeople searching for him - they look like ants to him, as he feels like God (his conversation here sounds very like that of Welles' signature bad guy role, Harry Lime in THE THIRD MAN made four years later - Lime also looks at the "ants" from the ferris wheel in Vienna). When confronted by Mary Longstreet Rankin (Charles bewildered and angry wife played by Loretta Young) and Wilson, Rankin gets killed by the clock figures. It was to be expected, and it is one bang - up conclusion to the film.
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10/10
Vastly underrated Welles - one of his best films, one of the best thrillers ever
zetes31 March 2002
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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8/10
The clock tower
jotix10015 June 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Any Orson Welles film is worth taking a look. It will surprise the viewer in many ways because of Mr Wells' keen sense of cinematic eye. The only thing bad with this movie is the fact that Orson Welles didn't adapt it for the screen. As a result, it suffers in many logical aspects, but doesn't detract from the over all enjoyment of the movie.

Mr. Welles' legacy is a treasure for the movie loving public. He was indeed a man ahead of his time. "The Stranger" wasn't one of his best films, but it has its rewards in the great cinematography, the acting by the magnificent cast assembled for this picture.

From the beginning we get to know who the real bad guy is. The story builds suspense as it goes along. The film is never boring and doesn't feel outdated at all. The last scenes at the clock tower are pure Welles. The interior of the clock tower scenes couldn't have been conceived by no other than Mr. Welles himself. The ending is amazing, to say the least.

Loretta Young, as Mary, the young bride is perfect for the part. Edward G. Robinson plays the war criminal hunter, Mr. Wilson. He is always effective, no matter what film he is in. Mr. Welles, is very intense as Dr. Rankin. Even the minor roles played by Billy House, Richard Long and Martha Wentworth are perfectly conceived and acted.

For fans of Orson Welles to enjoy.
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Welles's least favorite and least personal film is one of his most enjoyable; an exciting film noir with an excellent performance from Edward G. Robinson
J. Spurlin1 March 2007
The IMDb trivia page says this is Orson Welles's least favorite and least personal film. Aside from "Citizen Kane" and "The Magnificent Ambersons," I think this potent film noir is his most enjoyable—certainly more so than the ugly "Lady from Shanghai" or the overbaked and convoluted "Touch of Evil."

Charles Rankin (Orson Welles) is a professor in a respectable Connecticut town about to marry the daughter of a U.S. Supreme Court justice. But his name is fake and his past is filthy. An earnest convert to Christianity (Konstantin Shayne), who once ran a Nazi concentration camp, is capable of exposing him. "Rankin" kills this little old man and buries his body in the forest. But he isn't safe because an investigator (Edward G. Robinson) from the War Crimes Commission is on his tail. Rankin needs his own wife (Loretta Young) to help him elude capture. But his fascination with the local clock tower may prove his undoing.

As a director, Welles strains a bit too hard for effect in this film—and much too hard in everything but "Kane" and "Ambersons." In those two films all of his technical effects, striking as they are, seem effortless and exactly the right choices. Here, he has imperfect moments—such as the scene where his character is frantically, and inexplicably, trying to pick up pieces of paper—but everything else is splendid, especially the climax.

As an actor he's always compelling, but I think he makes one bad choice here. He's too guilty-looking in the early scenes. It makes us wonder why no one suspects him; and it robs us of a dramatic contrast when he begins to realize he's in imminent danger.

Loretta Young is generally a dull actress. She doesn't have enough skill to make an impression in the early scenes; but once the part requires histrionics she performs her duties well enough. Certainly her character is morally dubious and therefore fascinating in itself.

The best performance by far is Edward G. Robinson's. One of the great actors of his time, this ugly man has enough talent and star quality to underplay his role to great effect.

Orson Welles fans might find this exciting, well-plotted thriller too un-Wellesian to suit them. Otherwise, this is highly recommended.
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8/10
"Tricks. That's All You Know Is Tricks. I Don't Need Any Tricks."
bkoganbing11 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Orson Welles although he had to give in to studio demands in terms of casting still managed to direct himself and the rest of his players into a pretty good man hunt thriller in The Stranger.

The cast change was to put Edward G. Robinson in the role of the hunter of fugitive Nazi Franz Kindler played by Welles. Originally Welles wanted one of his Mercury Theater players Agnes Moorehead in the part. At that time it would have been quite a blow for feminism and probably would have made The Stranger a feminist landmark. As it is Edward G. Robinson brings his own truth and conviction to the role.

Orson Welles is the fugitive Kindler who is modeled upon the then at large Martin Bormann. We never learned that Bormann had in fact been killed by the Russians who just never bothered to tell us until the early seventies. Bormann in his time was the most wanted man at least in the capitalist world.

Bormann did not originate the 'final solution' mass extermination policy for Jews and other undesirables, but like Kindler in the film and unlike some of the others of Hitler's gang, he did have a passion for anonymity. It made hunting for him that much the harder.

Another one of the Nazi small fry Konstantin Shayne is allowed to escape jail and the hangman in the hopes that he'll lead the authorities to Welles. Shayne performs on schedule and Welles is forced to kill him in order to keep his his new identity as a teacher at an exclusive prep school for America's WASP elite.

Welles has also married Loretta Young, the daughter of a U.S. Supreme Court Justice to make his entry into the elite complete. Robinson had lost Shayne's trail before he was killed, but knows his man is in that small New England town. Robinson settles down in the town posing as an antique dealer and fishes for information as to who his prey is posing as.

Welles got a very good performance out of Loretta Young in the same year she won her Oscar for The Farmer's Daughter. It does slowly dawn on her, but she refuses to believe the man she married only married her for a respectable identity. Her slow realization is what makes her performance a good one.

Others noteworthy in the cast are a young Richard Long as Young's brother who Robinson takes into his confidence early and Billy House as the storekeeper/checkers hustler.

You can see traces of Welles's technique from such earlier work like Citizen Kane. One of my favorite shots, reminiscent of the deep focus cinematography of Citizen Kane is when Welles is in House's store playing checkers. He's got a hobby, clocks, that is one key to his identity. He is fixing a clock tower in the town square and loosens the peg on a ladder needed to get to the clock. It was meant for Young who was supposed fall and break her neck, but Robinson discovers it. As Welles is playing checkers with House, you can see the tower between the two men through the window of House's store. Then the camera moves in closer as Welles's voice keeps talking at about the time he figured Young would be falling from the ladder. It was setting a careful alibi for a crime that had been foiled, but of course Welles doesn't know that yet. Pure Citizen Kane.

The Stranger doesn't compare either to Citizen Kane, but it's still a much better than average noir thriller. And the ending is really outstanding. The sword of justice does indeed find its mark.
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10/10
A Famous Classic Film!
whpratt18 January 2005
Whenever Edward G. Robinson appeared in a picture and Orson Welles directed and starred, you could always count on a great film and this particular film will be enjoyed for many generations because of a great plot and fantastic acting. Edward G. Robinson,(Mr. Wilson),"The Red House",'47 played the role of an investigator, looking for a man who committed horrible crimes during WW II and also a missing friend of his who recently visited this town. Mr. Wilson connects himself with the local town people and plays checkers with a man in town who knows just about everything that goes on with everyone in an New England town. Loretta Young( Mary Longstreet Rankin),"Second Honeymoon",'37, falls in love with Orson Welles,(Dr. Charles Rankin/Franz Kindler),"Butterfly,",'82 and marries the doctor and all kinds of strange things start to happen. Dr. Rankin loves to fix all kinds of clocks and especially a large church steeple clock which has not been working for many years. This story will keep you glued to the silver screen and the ending is very exciting.
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7/10
Orson welles directs and stars in vivid postwar Nazi hunt.
Steve-31827 January 2001
A little much in parts, particularly the use of headlight direction that Welles loves to employ, nevertheless, this is a film that rates three stars in the Wellesian collection.

Edward G. Robinson is superb as the laid-back, all-knowing, in-your-face detective and Loretta Young scores as Orson's wife but it's big Billy House who is the real scene-stealer. House plays the man who owns the self-service store in town who likes playing checkers with his customers.

Welles, who looks a little strange--no doubt to match up with the title-provides a commanding performance throughout in a film that reflects the era's revulsion with the Nazi dream.
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10/10
Every minute is masterful
blackheart-210 June 2005
Start with an inviting, wish-I-were-there small town setting. Then, toss in the most horrendous and heinous kind of evil, creating ripples in the placid pond. Watch as the ripples and their reflections move across the waters. Add the acting talents of three of the truly great performers of the 20th century, Loretta Young, Edward G. Robinson, and Orson Welles, and direction worthy of Hitchcock at his peak. Top it all off with a supporting cast that never misses a beat. That is what you have here. The Stranger may not be the perfect film, but if you like the sense of films like Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt," you'll probably enjoy this. Personally, I have found it more engrossing every time I view it. Even though the mystery is gone, the great performances and pacing really are amazing.
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7/10
Manhunt
petra_ste5 December 2018
Warning: Spoilers
The Stranger is a solid thriller about a detective (Edward G. Robinson) trying to catch Nazi war criminal Kindler (Orson Welles), who, in the immediate aftermath of World War II, assumes a fake identity as a professor in a quiet American town and marries a local judge's daughter (Loretta Young).

Cinematography is unsurprisingly fine, with an interesting use of chiaroscuro and fluid camera movements, although studio interference reportedly tinkered with the movie, much to Welles' annoyance. The two leads are (also unsurprisingly) excellent, with Robinson as the keen, decent, humorous detective (reminiscent of his character in Double Indemnity) and Welles as the deceitful criminal striving to hide his secret.

I suspect one of the main reasons this entirely watchable and enjoyable thriller feels very underwhelming compared to timeless classics like Welles' own Touch of Evil, Reed's The Third Man, Wilder's Double Indemnity or Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt is the way the story is structured. After a compelling beginning, the detective guesses Kindler's real identity quite soon (and effortlessly secures the cooperation of his brother-in-law), so it becomes just a question of "when" and "how" the villain will be caught. And there is no particular urgency about it either.

Meanwhile, we are left to share Kindler's unsympathetic point of view as the circle closes around him... but we are rooting against him and waiting for him to be caught! Now, it *is* possible to put the audience in a bad guy's shoes for a while (I'm thinking Psycho and Strangers on a Train, for example, or even The Talented Mr. Ripley)... but a smug, unrepentant Nazi war criminal relishing on how he has managed to fool everybody? Not so much. Only when the point of view shifts to Kindler's suddenly endangered wife - whom we at least can relate to - some tension returns.

6,5/10
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10/10
I like Harper just the way it is even without a clock....
MarieGabrielle25 November 2006
Loretta Young intones her provincial view of a small Connecticut town, and how everything is perfect, nothing terrible can ever happen in Harper.

Orson Welles deserves credit for this underrated gem. Richard Long is Noah Longstreet and Richard Merrivale as Young's father, a Supreme Court judge.

Edward G. Robinson is the government official, tracking down former Nazi Franz Kindler. Could he be in this perfect American town?. Welles is undercover as a local professor. He marries Mary Longstreet (Loretta Young) but soon some terrible things start occurring in Harper. Mary's dog, Red is missing. Then the body of a mysterious foreigner is found in the woods.

The clock plays a backdrop; Franz Kindler is an amateur clock collector. There are several intriguing scenes, such as when Welles is discussing Nazis and warfare, in the context of history. This is a brilliant suspense film. 10/10.
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3/10
Hard to believe Welles directed this awful movie...
talbs6716 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I'm finding that I'm quite at odds with many reviewers concerning "The Stranger." They and I obviously live in different worlds.

"The Stranger" is one of the clumsiest, most obvious, most absurd movies I have ever seen -- which is made even worse by the fact that Orson Welles not only starred in it but directed it, too. This movie demands that the viewer suspend all disbelief and swallow the supposition that an extremely prominent Nazi war criminal -- who hasn't a trace of a German accent -- can somehow escape Germany, obliterate practically all evidence of his past, and get hired as a Connecticut prep school instructor, mere months after the end of the war.

There are no surprises in this movie whatsoever; we learn almost at the beginning who the bad guys and the good guys are, and we can see every plot development coming a mile away. You will marvel at the lax investigating and policing procedures, the overwrought scenery chewing of Loretta Young, and the gullibility of many of the characters, not to mention Welles's condescending portrayal of the excessively stereotypical "village folk" who populate the background of this movie.

In 1946, Bosley Crowther hit the nail on the head in his review in the New York Times: "He is just Mr. Welles, a young actor, doing a boyishly bad acting job in a role which is highly incredible—another weak feature of the film."

I give this movie a 3 out of 10 because of its entertainment value -- that is, like "Plan Nine From Outer Space," it's so bad, it's fun to watch. The noir cinematography is tricky, although quite extreme and self-conscious, and the film has value as a period piece with lots of local color that makes it a travelogue into the past.

Otherwise -- hold your noses!
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What is all the fuss about?
Lupercali21 February 2004
Warning: Spoilers
'The Stranger': a film made very shortly after the end of the war, and concerning a Nazi war criminal (Welles) leading a new life as a teacher in a town in Connecticut. Incidentally, the video jacket on my copy states that Welles' character settles down 'in a small mid-west town'. Connecticut is in the mid-west? I've given up trying to work out where the mid-west is supposed to be. I've decided it must comprise everywhere in America except California and Florida.

What is good about the movie? Edward G. Robinson is adequate as the cop who is chasing Welles. The photography is usually good, sometimes very good, with some very nice composition and use of light and shadow, but not much of it is exactly jaw-dropping. A few scenes contain nice little writer/director touches, and if you wanted to, you could probably pick the film apart, finding symbolism in the repeated motifs of clocks, checkerboards and so on, but again, I didn't find that any of this particularly bowled me over.

What was bad about it? Welles is completely unconvincing as the Nazi, and just looks overly dramatic and silly most of the time. Most of the rest of the cast are similarly unimpressive. The storyline is disappointingly predictable, and what are, I suppose, meant to be plot twists usually fall flat.

* Minor Spoilers *

For instance, Robinson suddenly wakes up in the middle of the night after a dinner party, because he's realised that Welles' comment about Jews not being Germans is the sort of thing a Nazi would say. You mean, up till then he'd been _suckered_ by that lame speech, after formerly being convinced he had his man? Good God! I thought he'd just been playing along. And what about the scene where Robinson decides that Welles might try to kill his wife, but this might be the only way to catch him, so we'll have to just see what happens, but he does tell the aged maid to keep an eye on her! Did the police actually work like that in the USA in 1946?

Not a bad film, but a long way from being a great one.
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3/10
Atmospheric, but surprisingly superficial post-war Wellesian melodrama that simply lacks a convincing story line.
gbrumburgh-117 February 2002
A particular disappointment for those who recognize Orson Welles as a film innovator and genius. Despite many critic's belief that "The Stranger" is a minor masterpiece, the truth is that it's little more than a convoluted piece of propaganda intended to assuage the feelings of post-war audiences. On the plus side, director Welles does manage to show a stylish touch here and there, and the stark black-and-white photography evokes a somber and appropriately eerie pall over the proceedings. But nothing can overcome the banal, increasingly preposterous story line which, by some miracle, received an Oscar nomination.

Top-billed Edward G. Robinson plays a federal agent who has assigned himself the task of finding a heinous, sought-after Nazi war criminal who played a principal role in the operation of concentration camps. By cleverly allowing the "escape" of a minor Nazi figure, Robinson hopes that Nazi minor will lead him to the whereabouts of Nazi major. As the action unfolds, the trail quickly leads to a quaint, quiet, seemingly unaffected Connecticut town.

Welles' batting average at this point of his film career was poor. He had struck out profitably with his prior three movies, but producer Sam Spiegel gave Welles this final opportunity to prove he COULD churn out a movie on time and within the budget. For Welles the result was remunerative and commercially successful. But at such a cost! While the studio was appreciative, Welles himself called it the worst film of his career and I couldn't agree more. It probably succeeded because the film's content struck a politically correct chord with its 1946 post-war audiences. I can think of no other reason.

Accenting this suspense melodrama with shadowy camera angles and wonderful "portrait-like" close-ups of his stars, Welles shows surprisingly little of the inventiveness he is known for. Everything seems rehashed, including a strikingly reminiscent clock tower finale a la Alfred Hitchcock. Moreover, Welles dilutes most of the film's suspense with stale, ineptly drawn, poorly motivated characters -- most of them sacked with implausible dialogue and situations. Even the musical score is obtrusive and obvious.

Wisely understated, Robinson comes off best here as the dogged agent whose instincts do not fail him as he ferrets out his suspect. His character's tone seems balanced, direct, and realistic, which is truly welcomed for he is surrounded by a cast of over-emoters.

Welles the director comes off marginally better than Welles the actor. He plays the small-town professor-turned-suspect as if he were Macbeth in a production of "Our Town." His classical demeanor just doesn't jell. At least his Nazi isn't a caricature, but his intense, incessant brooding here quickly turns mechanical, registering every sinister act and intention with a wide, fixated, stony gaze. One of his few good moments occurs at a dinner table sequence when he is allowed to expound on everything from Marxism to the mental restoration of post-war Germans.

Loretta Young is the chief violator of most of the film's acting problems. As the unsuspecting wife of Welles' character who refuses to see the obvious, she is simply unconvincing in her many scenes, unleashing a plethora of emotions, none of them coming from anywhere real. Her reactions are over-baked and, at times, unintentionally amusing as she feigns shock, disbelief, false bravado, and everything else under the sun. The dialogue served on her certainly doesn't help either.

But the most frustrating aspect of this film is that Welles, in order to advance the plot, allows his characters to do such silly, unsubtle, nimble-minded things. Neither Robinson's methods of tracking down his man nor Welles' ability to elude the ever tightening dragnet are done with much intelligence. One wonders how they ever achieved their stations in life. And poor Loretta! She is practically offered up as a sacrificial lamb just to expose her husband's true identity, when other methods could have utilized just as well!

While "The Stranger" cannot seriously damage Orson Welles' reputation as a masterful but frustrated filmmaker, it certainly does nothing to enhance it.
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7/10
Orson Welles' third picture about a Nazi war criminal hidden as a prep school teacher and newly married to an innocent woman
ma-cortes26 July 2015
Infamous Nazi war criminal called Franz Kindler (Orson Welles) assumes a new respectable identity in a Midwestern little town following WWII , unaware that a government agent (Edward G. Robinson) from the Allied War Crimes commission patiently stalks him . But his name is fake and his past is tenebrous . The escaped Nazi sedately living and is about to marry a beautiful as well as unsuspecting young woman (Loretta Young) , daughter of a prestigious judge (Philip Merivale) . But later on , Kindler feels his past closing in and he will need his own spouse to help him elude capture .

Interesting Welles movie with plenty of thrills , fine character studio , terrific interpretations and suspense from start to finish . It holds the viewer's interest but admittedly has some flaws , naive moments and wobbles . But it is studded with splendid scenes like the furtive flight across the dockyards at the beginning , the killing in the forests and the final confrontation on the clock tower including the sword wielded mechanical figures that move when the hour begins to strike . The vast New England town exterior sets, including the church with its 124-foot clock tower, were constructed in Hollywood on the back lot of the United Artists studio located on Santa Monica Blvd . Shocking scenes when are shown images about Nazi crimes , in fact it was the first mainstream American movie to feature footage of Nazi concentration camps following World War II . Nice acting by Orson Welles as a Nazi criminal who feels fascination with antique clocks and sedately esconsced in a small Connecticut town when an investigator is tailing him . Edward G. Robinson is perfect as a Federal agent out to get him . However , Orson Welles originally wanted Agnes Moorehead to play the FBI part , then the studio said no and instead gave him Edward G. Robinson . Furthermore , Loretta Young as attractive wife and Richard Long as brother give nicely understated interpretations . Suspenseful and thrilling musical score by Bronislau Kaper . Extremely well made camera-work throughout ; being shot in black and white filled with lights and darks by excellent cameraman Russell Metty . It is also available in horrible computer-colored version .

¨The stranger¨ was efficiently produced by Sam Spiegel and well directed by Orson Welles in 95 minutes runtime , being the only film directed by him to show a profit in its original release . However , Orson has stated that this is his least favorite of his films . Welles was a genius who had a large as well as problematic career . In 1938 he produced "The Mercury Theatre on the Air", famous for its broadcast version of "The War of the Worlds" . His first film to be seen by the public was ¨Ciudadano Kane¨ (1941), a commercial failure , but regarded by many as the best film ever made , along with his following movie , ¨The magnificent Ambersons¨ . After that , he directed this ¨The stranger¨ with an over-pitched acting by the same Welles and often described as his worst . He subsequently directed Shakespeare adaptation such as ¨Macbeth¨ , ¨Othelo¨ and his highly enjoyable ¨Chimes at Midnight¨ or ¨Falstaff¨ . He also performed a lot of films , Orson Welles interpreted for getting financing to shoot his pictures , as he played several exotic characters such as ¨The Tartari¨ , ¨Saul¨ , ¨Cagliostro¨ , ¨Cesare Borgia¨ and ¨Black rose¨ . Many of his next films were commercial flops and he exiled himself to Europe in 1948 . In 1956 he directed ¨Touch of evil¨ (1958) ; it failed in the U.S. but won a prize at the 1958 Brussels World's Fair . In 1975, in spite of all his box-office failures , he received the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award , and in 1984 the Directors Guild of America awarded him its highest honor, the D.W. Griffith Award . His reputation as a film maker has climbed steadily ever since .
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6/10
Overwrought and melodramatic ending for an uneven film...
Doylenf11 January 2012
THE STRANGER offers an interesting story, but it takes its time in involving the viewer in it after a slow start. ORSON WELLES is an ex-Nazi hiding in a small Connecticut town and EDWARD G. ROBINSON is the man hunting him down. Loretta Young is his attractive wife who knows nothing about her husband's past.

These elements are combined to make a fairly suspenseful story under Orson Welle's rather theatrical direction. He gives one of his robust over-the-top performances in the peak melodramatic moments, such as the final scenes where he follows his distraught wife to the clock tower, an ending foreshadowed by his fascination with clocks.

Seen in a pristine print, it's a very watchable movie. Unfortunately, there are many Public Domain prints that make the film look like a low-budget production. Avoid them if you can, and you should get some suspenseful entertainment from a good print.

Performances by Loretta Young and Edward G. Robinson are excellent.
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3/10
Painfully disappointing.
kingdaddy823 August 2004
You'd expect an Orson Welles movie to be better. Heck, you'd expect that the subject matter, a major Nazi on the run, might inspire a good script. But it's the laughably improbable script that sucks The Stranger into the black hole of turkeydom. (How does the villain fit as quickly and smoothly into American society as we're supposed to believe? Isn't it a bit odd, at his own wedding, that none of his family or friends show up as guests? After a certain point in the plot, why not just arrest him, rather than face screaming headlines, ESCAPED NAZI MASTERMIND RUNS AMOK IN SUPREME COURT JUSTICE'S HOME TOWN?) Plus, the final scene is foreshadowed in such a thuddingly obvious way that you'll likely bust out laughing. Welles' own acting is bad, confined to raising his left eyebrow and staring distractedly away from whomever is talking to him. Skip it and watch The Third Man or A Touch of Evil again instead.
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10/10
Gripping, engrossing piece of film
Jolie6 January 1999
I first watched "The Stranger" on a cold Saturday night. It was pitch black outside, a fitting setting in which to watch this chilling film.

The story unfolds like an onion, with the facts slowly revealed as the skin is peeled away. We learn that a Nazi criminal,Meinike,will be allowed to escape from prison. It is only when he visits fellow comrade Kindler that we understand why. Kindler was the worst of the Nazi war criminals, as he was the creator of the death camps and all of their savage technology. He kills his friend to escape suspicion, but ironically, the discovery of Meinike's body only furthers the tarnishing of his reputation. Each act of violence Kindler commits drives him farther to the edge of his sanity...or insanity, depending on your point of view. He can only find solace in tinkering with the town clock. It's as though through fixing the clock, he can fix parts of his life as well. He needs order. When he realizes he cannot have it, he attacks the grandfather clock. It's as though the one stable thing in his life is gone. Also, remember how the clock is whirling at the beginning of the movie? It whirls at the end as well. It gives the film closure, and also shows how the entire situation in the town was broken while Kindler was there. A fascinating film, "The Stranger" will be on your mind long after the credits have scrolled down the screen.
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5/10
Very Disappointing Considering The Three Leads
ccthemovieman-122 October 2006
Since the three stars of this movie are three of my favorites - Orson Welles, Edward G. Robinson and Loretta Young - this was a major disappointment.

This is one of the few movies I didn't care for but watched THREE times. I guess I really, really wanted to like this film, although the final time I only watched it because it was part of a film noir DVD package set. At least the print was better than the lousy VHS copies that were available on this movie. That's important because, being a film noir, there a number of good night-time shots with sharp contrasts.

I might have thought better of this film had it had a more realistic ending, instead of hokey Hollywood-type finish that has a major credibility problem, which I can't go into with spoiling it. It also had too many lulls in the story. They weren't long lulls, but they added up.

Despite the story problems, it's always a pleasure to see Robinson - in his prime, too, a thin Wells also in his good years and attractive Young. Too bad their characters are on the dumb side, as is the story.
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6/10
One of the more 'efficient' camps
sharky_552 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
The thing is, Orson Welles doesn't play a particularly good Nazi, never mind a German, much like he didn't play a particularly good Irishman in The Lady from Shanghai. But that was just a peculiarity with the accent; here we are asked to believe that Welles is none other than the grand mastermind behind the Nazi concentration camps, the bringing of death and destruction of millions of lives and then some. Somehow, his odd little lapses of manner and guise (including a hilarious rant about the 'final solution' at the dinner table, where he is clearly addressing himself) don't really sell this unrepentant evil - and neither does he repeated blank, stony gaze. No doubt the intention here was for a more menacing, brooding look, boiling over under the surface...but his character becomes such a caricature that you almost expect him to burst out with a 'Heil Hitler!' ala Peter Sellers. This film was known for being the first to show footage from the Holocaust on the big screen. Maybe then it might have been a big fuss only a year after the war's end; but it does not really earn the right to use this, because Welles' simply isn't believable. So instead of having a dramatic impact it feels more like a narrative cheat designed to get us to abhor Mr Wilson...and since it doesn't really show much anyway, it falls flat.

The supporting characters too, are similarly flat. Perhaps this is where Welles intended to make one of those conventional Hollywood pictures. In any case, he succeeds - the cast is given nothing to work with, and all signs point apparently to the only real conclusion that could be made from this plot. The editing is full of these obtrusive reaction shots of Welles glaring whenever he is required to do so, and the script littered with arbitrary references to the stranger in town that has a mastery for crafting clocks - a point that seems less a character trait and more just a set-up for the final climatic action sequence. This has all the hallmarks of Hitchcock, but none of the thrill. For all the dramatic flourishes of the soundtrack and oversized ominous shadows looming against the wall, there's nothing really scary about Wilson at all. In fact the best scene of the movie almost has us convinced that Mary could possess the capacity to fall as low as her husband; she ecstatically pronounces to him that she has outfoxed those who seek to tear them apart with false accusations, and the key light makes her face very white indeed, almost a ghostly terror blinded by love. But for every one of these there's three of the same when Welles clumsily draws a swastika whilst orchestrating a murder. Yes, this is hilarious. No, it isn't supposed to be.
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Strange
tedg27 July 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

Orson Welles was a visionary mystic who was often coerced into blunt activity by dull men. This is such a case: Orson toeing the line in order to build cash for projects he cared about (at this time, it would have been the amazing `Othello'). Earlier in his theater career, he did similar slumming in the radio world. He was effective as, say, The Shadow, but not inspired. And when anyone who is so blessed with talent is forced to hide it the project can be called a disaster no matter how apparently palatable it is.

So I can say that this is a crying disaster. I watched it several times looking for the master's subversion. After all, Welles was a stranger in Hollywood, at this point trying to blend in -- literally by marrying a `local' beauty. He was extremely bright, and all that brilliance was tuned to its own suppression. So one would expected some secret signs distributed throughout that conflate him as actor with his character. Alas, there is not even a spark of that.

The 2 part DVD (with `The Trial') has a particularly useless commentary.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 4: Has some interesting elements.
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