The Stranger -The Film Detective Restored Version
(Orson Welles, Edward G.Robinson, et al / DVD / NR / (1946) 2014 / The Film Detective)
Overview: 'The Stranger' is a deeply fascinating noir thriller and the third directorial feature by Orson Welles. It’s a post-war suspense film about an escaped Nazi who disguises himself as an ordinary high school teacher in a small town in Connecticut. An officer for the war crimes commission, Wilson (Edward G. Robinson), is tasked with tracking down Franz Kindler (Welles), a mastermind of the concentration camps who, in the aftermath of World War II, has erased all traces of his identity and settled into suburban conformity.
DVD Verdict: 'The Stranger' was also directed by Orson Welles, but he did not adapt it to the screen. Although this is seen as a detraction from the whole by some who have seen it, I believe that Welles' deft directing and penetrating acting is what makes this a Welles film for my taste. He was never a facile actor - but he uses his usual wooden countenance here to the advantage of this role.
Another thing that fascinates me is the underrated status of this engrossing thriller. The action and suspense builds and builds to a peak of excitement that few movies can reach without lots of special effects and Foley work these days. This movie fascinates at every turn without ever seeming as if we are watching art. But art it was in Welles' direction and gentle handling of the unraveling.
Edward G. Robinson is the subtle but welcome prize we receive from this outing. The undercurrents of the horrors that have just come before this movie was made and its actions can be seen seething within his duty to find hidden Nazis. He is methodical and intelligent, it so difficult to see the difference between Robinson the man and Robinson the actor here. He is such a talent that we often mistake his ease for something else but acting - and of acting he was a master. Plainly seen here as a gift to all of us.
What I like about this and many other good films is how facts are revealed slowly, layer by layer. Loretta Young was good as the innocent young girl who believes that marriage is a sacred institution, that life has a course to follow which will not be derailed and finds it hard to accept the truth of the horrors behind her marriage.
It was mildly amusing to see a very young Richard Long as the open-minded young man with whom Robinson's character confides certain facts. I recommend it to fans of psychological thrillers, mysteries and of course, of Mr. Orson Welles. So sad that the studio heads were such disingenuous towards this utter genius of a man who deserved more earnest accolades in his life.
'The Stranger' is not glittering masterpiece, but it's a hell of great story that I do not tire of watching - and seeing each piece of the puzzle fall into place. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1:33.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.