The Stranger

| September 4, 2017

What is the greatest movie of all time? That question has been hotly debated by film scholars and fans alike. One such film that continuously tops best of lists is Citizen Kane, directed by and starring Orson Welles. With its groundbreaking technical achievements, Kane has been an inspiration to countless filmmakers over the past 70+ years. Unfortunately, Welles himself is usually left out of greatest directors’ lists. With Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, and Touch of Evil , Welles proves himself to be one of the very best in history. And one somewhat forgotten gem, The Stranger, deserves to be mentioned alongside Welles’ best offerings.

The Stranger is the story of Franz Kindler (Orson Welles), a Nazi that changes his identity to Professor Charles Rankin and moves to Harper, Connecticut. Kindler/Rankin, however, is by no means in the clear. Mr. Wilson (Edward G. Robinson, Double Indemnity) is a detective for the United Nations War Crimes Commission. Wilson and the Commission have had their suspicions about Prof. Rankin’s Nazi ties for some time. After following one of Rankin’s old Nazi comrades to Harper, Wilson is positive he has his man. Let the cat and mouse games begin!
Orson Welles and Edward G. Robinson are both pretty terrific. Loretta Young (The Bishop’s Wife) plays Mary Longstreet, Rankin’s new wife. Young is a talented actress in her own right. However, her role here as Mary is unfortunately pretty simple and bland. The cinematography is quite stunning, which should come as no surprise. Russell Metty, The Stranger cinematographer, would work with Welles again years later with his masterful work in Touch of Evil.

The writing is to be lauded, as well. Victor Trivas was nominated for a 1947 Academy Award for Best Writing, Original Story for The Stranger.

The Blu-Ray transfer, brought to us by the fine folks over at Olive Films, is nicely done. The one issue that I tend to have with the majority of Olive Films releases is their lack of special features. The Stranger is no exception. The Blu-Ray and DVD releases include only the theatrical trailer and an audio commentary. For a movie directed by and starring Orson Welles, I would like something more, a little extra if you will.

Overall, The Stranger is a highly enjoyable film and one that any cinephile (especially Welles fans) should have in their home media collection.

About the Author:

Steve graduated from Southwestern Michigan College with an Associate's Degree in communications. He currently resides in Niles, MI

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