The Stranger (1946) Orson Welles (2x)
Kino Lorber Blu-ray
A member of the UN War Crimes Commission named Wilson (Edward G. Robinson) is convinced that WWII Nazi war criminal Franz Kindler (Orson Welles) is hiding out in America. Wilson sends Kindler’s former right-hand-man Meinike (Konstantin Shayne) to find Kindler with Wilson following closely behind. Meanwhile, Kindler has a new identity: a prep school teacher named Charles Rankin. Rankin is well-respected and is about to marry a young woman named Mary (Loretta Young), the daughter of a Supreme Court Justice (Philip Merivale).
As you can probably tell, The Stranger is filled with all sorts of possibilities and Welles does a masterful job of exploring them. I don’t want to tell you too much about the film, but I will say that it has gotten unjustly dumped on for many reasons, despite being Welles’s only true box office success. As a film in the public domain, it has been reissued in various formats, nearly all of them substandard. Others have called it “lesser Welles,” insisting that Welles was hardly trying, unfairly comparing the film to Citizen Kane. And unfortunately, Bosley Crowther’s scathing New York Times review did much damage.
Yet The Stranger is a top-notch film noir filled with tension, thrills, suspense, and wonderful atmosphere. I highly recommend it. The best way to see it (if you can’t see it on the big screen, which is always my first choice) is to pick up the Kino Classics Blu-ray edition of the film, which is probably the best we’re going to see the film on home video. If you’d like to read more about the film, there’s an excellent review over at Outspoken and Freckled. Enjoy!
Photos: Basement Rejects, The Movie Title Stills Collection, Outspoken and Freckled