The Stranger (1946)
Critic Consensus: The sins of World War II reemerge in an idyllic American setting in this diabolically effective noir, buoyed by Orson Welles' virtuosic direction and performance.
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as Prof. Charles Rankin
as Mr. Wilson
as Mary Longstreet
as Judge Longstreet
as Noah Longstreet
as Dr. Jeffrey Lawrence
as Mr. Potter
as Konrad Meinike
as Mrs. Lawrence
as Mr. Peabody
Critic Reviews for The Stranger
Adroitly directed by Orson Welles, who also plays the star, it is a grade A gooseflesh-raiser.
Orson Welles's 1946 film reproduces his personal themes of self-scrutiny and self-destruction only in outline, though it is an inventive, highly enjoyable thriller.
The Stranger is socko melodrama, spinning an intriguing web of thrills and chills.
The whole film, produced by S. P. Eagle, comes off a bloodless, manufactured show.
Audience Reviews for The Stranger
A small university town just after WW2 and one of the new professors (Orson Welles) is marrying one of the pretty local women (Loretta Young). However, a dark shadow falls over their nuptial bliss, a secret and a war crimes investigator (Eddie G. Robinson). This being a Wellsian directorial effort dark shadows and different camera angles add spice to a small story, but everything really hangs on the interesting performance of Young as a soul content with what she knows, surprised with shocking new information. See it for her.
A minor entry in the legendary career of Orson Welles, concerning a Nazi supporter (Welles) hiding out in Connecticut in the wake of the fall of the German empire, and how a skilled detective (Edward G. Robinson) tracks him down and tries to get him to confess to his true identity. Although boring at times and lacking attention to Welles new life/character that have made him so respected in the town, this movie gets a lot of things correct. Welles larger than life screen presence is consistently watchable, even when his film threatens to lose credibility and go overboard, his sound acting chops and directorial grasp keep it steady. The ending is well-done and fits the film's melodramatic second-half perfectly. Crowd pleasing if occasionally unintentionally funny in its phoniness (Robinson getting knocked out in a gym escapes logic), it is short and sweet and has an interesting enough backdrop to keep you watching.
Welles is so technically proficient that even his second-tier works are a clinic in form, camera blocking, and mise-en-scene. Like Bergman, he isn't afraid to use dramatic closeups to communication the emotional tics of his characters, and he always strays clear of the conventional route when it comes to his direction. The Stranger is one of Welles' more political films (which undoubtedly will turn some people off) and some of the plot points are a little far-fetched, but I marvel at how assuredly paced this film is -- culminating to yet another classic Welles-esque ending. It quickens at the right time, and plays out like a scrupulous crescendo. Of course, having one of the greatest noir actors of all time as your lead doesn't hurt either.