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USA 1946
Directed by
Orson Welles
95 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

The Stranger

Made after the commercial failures of Citizen Kane (1941) and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), a humbled Welles settles into a more conventional studio mode with the story of a Nazi war criminal Franz Kindler (Welles, oozing sinister malevolence) hiding out under an assumed identity as a college professor in a Norman Rockwell-style American small-town in Connecticut and pursued by dogged, pipe-smoking war crimes investigator (Edward G. Robinson in a role that Welles originally wanted to go to Agnes Moorhead).

Although the script is largely B grade, Welles impressively embellishes the schematic storyline (there is no explanation of why KIndler has no accent or how he came to be a college professor etc. etc.) with Expressionist-influenced stylistics common to film noir and to Welles's own work (cinematographer Russell Metty also shot Welles' Touch Of Evil and won an Oscar in 1961 for Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus) culminating in a clock-tower showdown that recalls Fritz Lang's M.

Welles was apparently not happy with the film (producer Sam Speigel ordered 30 minutes showing the pursuit of Kindler's former accomplice Konrad Meinike lopped from the early stages of the film, a move which one suspects was probably correct) but there is still plenty to enjoy here. .

 

 

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