The legendary story that hovers over Orson Welles's The Stranger is that he wanted Agnes Moorehead to star as the dogged Nazi hunter who trails a war criminal to a sleepy New England town. The part went to E.G. Robinson, w... more »ho is marvelous, but it points out how many compromises Welles made on the film in an attempt to show Hollywood he could make a film on time, on budget, and on their own terms. He accomplished all three, turning out a stylish if unambitious film noir thriller, his only Hollywood film to turn a profit on its original release. Welles stars as unreformed fascist Franz Kindler, hiding as a schoolteacher in a New England prep school for boys and newly married to the headmaster's lovely if naive daughter (Loretta Young). Welles the director is in fine form for the opening sequences, casting a moody tension as agents shadow a twitchy low-level Nazi official skulking through South American ports and building up to dramatic crescendo as Kindler murders this little man, the lovely woods becoming a maelstrom of swirling leaves that expose the body he furiously tries to bury. The rest of film is a well-designed but conventional cat-and-mouse game featuring an eye-rolling performance by Welles and a thrilling conclusion played out in the dark clock tower that looms over the little village. --Sean Axmaker« less
Andrew McCaffrey | Satellite of Love, Maryland | 06/21/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First of all, concerning the DVD edition of THE STRANGER -- the version I own and am reviewing is the Hollywood Classics release. This is the one that comes with the 30-minute documentary on Orson Welles and the (rather frightening) introduction by Tony Curtis. The picture and sound looked quite adequate to me though there is an annoying "Delta" logo that appears occasionally in the bottom right-hand corner. I had never seen the film before and purchased this DVD in a 3-pack of Orson Welles films. For the low price, the value is excellent and the video quality is quite good, though I'm sure it isn't as clear as the more expensive version. The customer will have to decide if they want to pay three times the price to get a cleaner version or get a serviceable copy for the lower cost.Now moving on to the film. This movie is much more straightforward than the other Orson Welles films that I've seen. We have a standard good guy and a standard bad guy, and each character is set up in his role almost immediately. Edward G. Robinson plays the Nazi-hunter who has been tracking Orson Welles' character since the end of the Second World War. Welles' plays a Nazi who has gone into hiding and is now living in small town America as a schoolteacher. The acting from the two leads is spellbinding -- as good as any of their best work, with Welles in particular stealing the show. Welles triumphs in the difficult task of playing a man who has successfully integrated himself in a community, yet allowing the audience to see him as the villain that he is. The viewer never questions why the outlaw has been able to fool his friends and neighbors for months but can also pick up on the same clues that Robinson's character does.The story is not overly complicated and this allows us to pay a lot of attention to the different characters in the movie. The townspeople, without exception, are all given their own motivations without slipping into repetition and the silly catchphrases that movies set in small towns tend to give to their characters. There are also some excellent shots that could only have come from Welles' keen directorial eye. The German's obsession with clocks is an interesting metaphor for the Nazi mindset, but this is kept to a minimum and never becomes overbearing.I highly recommend this interesting film for anyone who enjoys good acting and intriguing storylines. The documentary included on the DVD is very superficial and most of the 30 minutes are taken up by trailers of films, some of which barely feature Orson Welles himself. It's not something that the Welles fan is going to get too much out of and it does not contain enough information for the casual viewer. The introduction by Tony Curtis is frighteningly odd."
The Best Edition Available
Alric Knebel | Biloxi, MS | 12/29/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When looking for a good DVD edition of "The Stranger," it's difficult to tell from among all the copies floating around which one is a quality transfer from an actual print of the film. The problem arises because "The Stranger" has fallen into the public domain. That means any basement-dwelling hustler can legally download it for free from some site like Internet Archive, slap it onto a blank DVD, print a label for it, and sell the slapdash product as "remastered" or some such. And a lot of these customer reviews aren't much help, reviewing the movie itself instead of telling you what you really want to know, which is the quality of the image on the disc. So there's no way to tell what you're getting until after you've ordered it. Well, I'm more than happy to tell you exactly what you need to know.
Bottom line: if you're looking for a good copy of this movie, The Stranger (MGM Film Noir) is the best available edition. It's manufactured by MGM, and bears the studio logo when the DVD starts up. The image itself is a quality transfer from a good master from a consistently clear print, fully intact. That's important, because some of these extremely messy public domain copies are missing the "Independent Releasing Corporation" banner before the credits begin, a sure sign that worse things are to follow. Though this edition has not undergone a frame-by-frame digital restoration, it's sharp, with rich blacks and good contrast, with enough detail to reveal the flaws in the source material, the ordinary marks of age such as scratches in some spots, which I noticed only because I was viewing it so critically. Otherwise, these flaws are negligible. The important point is that, while it's not perfect, it's a studio transfer from a good master of a preserved print, free of jumps or jiggling from bad splices, and no cracks or pops on the soundtrack. And even more satisfying, when upconverted on my HDTV, soft natural grain was visible, which demonstrates just how accurate the transfer is. I was very, very pleased by this edition. VERY pleased.
A couple of weeks ago, I ordered the trashy Triad edition because of the claim that it was "remastered." It was expensive enough, so I believed it. It was an out-and-out fraudulent claim, and I immediately returned it and bought this one instead. It doesn't matter that it's not remastered, because whatever master they're using meets the studio standard, and manufactured with regard for customer satisfaction. Perhaps one day we'll get a fully digitally restored edition, but for now, The Stranger (MGM Film Noir) is the best edition on the market. ________________________________________"
You have got to be kidding me!
Alric Knebel | Biloxi, MS | 04/03/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Orson Welles' The Stranger is one of my all-time favorite films. But it's been in the public domain for years, so you could get waylaid on your way to the market if you're looking to buy a good copy. As an actual Amazon customer who bought this Triad edition of this DVD, I have some very specific information I can share with you, and it'll be my pleasure.
What you need to know is this: this Triad edition came straight out of the public domain. I bought this back in December, at which time Triad was promoting it as The Stranger (Remastered). This was a false claim, and they eventually changed the affix to "enhanced," which was equally as false, but less specific. The Triad on-demand DVD-R transfer lacked the studio banner at the start of the film, so it jumped right into the opening credits with stuttering, plangent sound. The image at first would not remain centered, swinging from side to side, as if it were transferred to video by a hand-held device while at sea. The picture was very murky, a heavily damaged print with extremely low resolution, with faded blacks. I think the source was a video tape, the copy identical to the one you can download yourself for free at Internet Archive. I was outraged. Thanks to Amazon's return policy, I immediately got a refund and ordered MGM's The Stranger (MGM Film Noir) instead.
After I got the refund settled, I returned to the Triad page and wrote a scathing review. By the quickly tallied "yes" votes, it was very successful in warning customers away from it and steering them toward a legitimate studio release. Eventually Triad quit manufacturing the DVD, but it looks like they've returned with a whole new package. This new design, with a noirish still from the film, looks classier than it did here, The Stranger (Enhanced). But the quality of the DVD will be the same, since Triad is not a studio and does not have access to a print. It'll be that same public domain copy from Internet Archive (google it; you'll find all sorts of interesting stuff there for the taking), the only copy they have access to.
As for MGM's edition of The Stranger (MGM Film Noir), they restored the studio banner at the beginning of the film, and the image is sharp and crisp, obviously transferred from an actual print, and recently enough that it looked good upconverted from my Sony BDP to my 47" HDTV. The blacks were rich and the sound was clean. The print and transfer were so good, fine grain was visible in spots, with no glitches or dropped frames. Some minor scratches were infrequently visible, which I noticed only because I was looking so closely. As a noir classic, this film truly deserves a frame-by-frame restoration. Until then, The Stranger (MGM Film Noir) is the best edition available. Even at this point, it's a very good transfer. And infinitely superior to this Triad edition. ______________________________________"
Quite a mix
jenbird | Havertown, PA | 01/29/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This particular DVD version of "The Stranger" would have been much better without several of the so-called "extras." First, that annoying Delta logo that pops up in the lower right hand corner every so often. That should be the first to go. Second, the bizarre introduction and endnotes from Tony Curtis. What is that about? Lastly, the puny "Orson Welles On Film" documentary left a lot to be desired. It was mostly still photographs of Welles in various poses and long movie clips with some bland narration. For a much better documentary of Welles' career, I recommend "The Battle Over Citizen Kane."You may wonder why I mentioned all this before talking about the movie itself...well, all the bells and whistles were distracting. However, I did enjoy the movie itself. Edward G. Robinson does a fine job as the Nazi hunter who has tracked down a fugitive (Welles) to a small Conneticut town. Orson Welles gives a quietly sinister performance as Rankin/Kindler; even his little "Mm-hms" are chilling, and when he scowls and glares, it's pretty intimidating. Loretta Young gets a little shrill as Rankin's dim bulb wife, but gives an adequate performance.In summary: the film is well worth watching, especially for fans of Orson Welles. If you're going to buy it for keeps, however, you may want to look for another version that is better quality."
CAVEAT EMPTOR - BUYER BEWARE.
Aric B. Cushing | Los Angeles, CA United States | 04/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For those who are going to buy this copy, beware. The transfer is a disappointment and there is a logo which pops up on the screen throughout the film. The logo is "Delta"--whatever that is. It's not the name of the company, so I can't quite figure out what it is. Perhaps if you have a "S" cable connected to your DVD the film might be a lot clearer. At any rate, the "Delta" logo is a real travesty and since this is the only DVD version that is being printed, die-hard Orson Welles fans are forced to buy it for their collection. If you have time, you might want to look for a different version of "The Stranger" in a Fries Electronics or wherever they sell DVDs. Of course, the film is brilliant--especially when you think about what other films were being done at the time--but it would be nice if the company who transferred the film gave it the respect it deserves."