This Academy Award-nominated thriller follows Franz Kindler (Orson Welles), a Nazi fugitive hiding out as a professor in a small Connecticut town. When his new wife (Loretta Young) begins to suspect his past, a detective (Edward G. Robinson) sets out to uncover his identity.
The prodigy son of an inventor and a musician, Welles was well-versed in literature at an early age, particularly Shakespeare, and, through the unusual circumstances of his life (both of his parents died by the time he was 12, leaving him with an inheritance and not many family obligations), he found himself free to indulge his numerous interests, which included the theater. He was educated in private schools and traveled the world. He found it tougher to get onto the Broadway stage, and get a job with Katharine Cornell. He later became associated with John Houseman, and, together, the two of them set the New York theater afire during the 1930s with their work for the Federal Theatre Project, which led to the founding of the Mercury Theater. The Mercury Players later graduated to radio, and their 1938 “War of the Worlds” broadcast made history when thousands of listeners mistakenly believed aliens had landed on Earth. In 1940, Hollywood beckoned, and Welles and company went west to… read more
"Well, who but a Nazi would deny that Karl Marx was a German because he was a Jew?" The Stranger is probably most famous for being the only time Orson Welles ever sold out to the mainstream. In this post-war thriller, Edward G. Robinson plays a detective working for an Allied Commission tasked with prosecuting war criminals. He is on the hunt for the mysterious Franz Kindler, the architect of the Nazi death camps. His search leads him to a small Connecticut town where Kindler has settled under the alias of Professor Renkin, a teacher at the local boy's high school. To top it off, he even marries the daughter of a supreme court justice. But Robinson knows better, and soon the game is afoot. This may not be one of Welles' most well-known or daring films, but there is something very satisfying about it. Very much in the strain of Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt, The Stranger also anticipates later entries in the small-town evil subgenre like The Night of the Hunter and Blue Velvet. And along with Citizen Kane, Touch of Evil, and F for Fake, this is Welles best constructed film. I actually feels like a finished product! And it is gothic, but not as overly flashy and baroque as some of his other works; he does a great job of conjuring up that all-American small town feel in a way that even reminds me of my own Pelham. Robinson is perfect as always, and provides a nice balance for Welles' tendency to ham it up at times. Fun flick, definitely worth checking out.