"Murder can be a chain, Mary, one link leading to another un
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 05/07/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Stranger is an outstanding film directed by Orson Welles; we get excellent and very convincing acting and the casting was very well done. The script was well written and the film benefits greatly from superlative cinematography and choreography. The plot moves along at a good pace and I never felt bored. Filmed in black and white, this film is very memorable; and a brief scene in which footage from the concentration camps is used creates a very powerful effect in and of itself.
When the action starts, we quickly learn that Mr. Wilson (Edward G. Robinson), head of The Allied War Crimes Commission not long after World War Two ended, passionately refuses to listen to his peers who argue against releasing a low level Nazi, Konrad Meinike (Konstantin Shayne), who was an aide to an extremely reclusive high level Nazi, Franz Kindler, who ran what Wilson states were the most "efficient" Nazi concentration camps in Europe during World War Two. Mr. Wilson lets Meinike escape--and just as Wilson suspected, Meinike leads Wilson straight to where Kindler is hiding--a small town in Connecticut named Harper where Kindler now goes by the alias of history Professor Charles Rankin. Kindler has burned what few pictures there were of himself so nobody knows what he actually looks like; and Kindler's plot to marry Mary Longstreet (Loretta Young), daughter of Supreme Court Justice Adam Longstreet (Philip Merivale), will, he hopes, make him completely unrecognizable while he waits to participate in yet another horrific global conflict from which the Germans might rise victorious.
Wilson is hot on the trail for Kindler but he can't be sure that Kindler is posing as Charles Rankin, nor can he know for sure whom to trust so that Mary's life will never be in danger if she discovers Rankin's true identity as Franz Kindler. Wilson needs help, so he takes a chance and confides a great deal to Mary's brother Noah (Richard Long); and from there the cat-and mouse game begins.
I could tell you more but then I'd be giving too much away--no spoilers here! Suffice it to say that the entire movie is very well done and it held my interest every step of the way even when I thought I had the plot figured out. In addition, look for Martha Wentworth to do a great job of playing Sara, the maid; and Billy House plays general store owner Mr. Potter to perfection.
The Stranger may not be the most remembered film about the aftereffects of World War Two; but it deserves to be; it's definitely an underrated film. Orson Welles did a great job of both directing and starring in this film. I highly recommend this motion picture for anyone interested in the history of World War Two; and fans of the actors in this movie will want to get this for their collections."
A little too normal...
Andrew Ellington | I'm kind of everywhere | 07/06/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Orson Welles had a real knack for creating tension. When you watch his films, even the more subtle ones, you can really sense the dramatic tension he formulates and layers over every scene.
One thing that `The Stranger' isn't lacking is tension.
The film, for me, is a tad too formulaic. It tells the story of an unreformed Nazi named Franz Kindler who disguises himself as a charming (somewhat) Professor named Charles Rankin. Charles has established himself rather nicely in a small community, going as far as marrying the Headmaster's daughter Mary. When a man from his past shows up, he brings with him a Federal Agent intent on finding and exposing Franz. What ensues is your typical cat and mouse game with a predictable ending.
While I have minor issues with the unimaginative plot (I mean really) I have to admit that the film was engaging and the performances (for the most part) were pretty good. The script left a lot to be desired (for it tended to go for the obvious and at times even the preposterous) but each actor handled the script rather well. Some have balked at Welles performance, and it is true that this may be one of his weaker works, but he managed to keep us intrigued. Sadly, his character doesn't develop as strongly as needed to make him three-dimensional, and his solemn deliver lacks the finesse needed to make Franz a memorable villain, but he does manage to bask his character in enough dread to make him frightening. Maybe that's more of a directorial compliment than an actorly one. Loretta Young is effective in her role, even if she doesn't really come screaming to life. Some of her latter scenes are more impressive. For me, the film belongs to Edward G. Robinson. He creates a subtle yet engrossing character in Mr. Wilson. I'm interested in what would have come form Agnes Moorehead in the role, as was originally intended, but I can't complain about what Robinson was able to draw out of his character.
In the end I'd still recommend this film, despite only giving it a C+. The direction from Welles is top notch (almost Hitchcockian in scope) and Robinson turns out an awards worthy performance. I feel that the script was rushed and the ending was almost a throwaway, but overall there is entertainment to be found here, especially if you are a fan of Welles."
Scott T. Rivers | Los Angeles, CA USA | 07/27/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"In later years, Orson Welles considered "The Stranger" (1946) his most impersonal filmmaking effort. However, the actor-director imbues a haunting noir atmosphere into this postwar thriller, which emerges as a telling portrait of small-town America. Beneath the simplistic surface of the Connecticut community lies, in the words of War Crimes Inspector Wilson (Edward G. Robinson), an "obscenity [that] must be destroyed." The "obscenity" is Nazi fugitive Franz Kindler (Welles). In the guise of history professor Charles Rankin, the clock-obsessed Kindler loses all rationality as Wilson widens his net. "The Stranger" is notable for the perverse relationship between Kindler and his newly married bride (Loretta Young), who learns of her husband's murderous past yet chooses to protect him. Robinson captures top acting honors with his understated performance, but the film might have been more intriguing if producer Sam Spiegel allowed Welles to use Agnes Moorehead in the Wilson role - thereby resulting in an offbeat gender reversal. Some of the film's darkest moments are weighed heavily in the first half-hour, with cinematographer Russell Metty (who also collaborated with Welles on "Touch of Evil") creating a shadowy, menacing atmosphere. Fortunately, "The Stranger" has enough Wellesian touches to transcend its conventional framework."