Franz Kindler is one of the most notorious of the Nazis who has escaped capture following the war. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Kindler liked to remain anonymous in carrying out his heinous war crimes, and as such only those closest to him knows what he looks like. Mr. Wilson of the war crimes commission is able to convince his colleagues to release one of Kindler's closest imprisoned associates, Konrad Meinike, who Wilson expects will lead them to Kindler. Wilson is able to follow Meinike to small town Harper, Connecticut. Shortly after his arrival in town, Wilson, with only circumstantial evidence, believes that Kindler is Charles Rankin, a professor at the local boys college. Wilson is correct, Kindler who plans to marry Mary Longstreet, the daughter of Supreme Court Justice Adam Longstreet, to add more respectability to his cover, and who does plan for a Nazi uprising when the time is right. Wilson ends up playing a game of cat and mouse, first with Meinike, then with Rankin, both of the Nazis who know that Wilson is after them. Especially between Wilson and Rankin, the game turns to one of taunts in plain sight, Rankin who believes one of his saving graces being Mary, who probably would not believe him of any such wrongdoing in her love for him. If Mary does get close to discovering the truth, her life and that of those closest to her may be in danger.
Every minute is masterful
Start with an inviting, wish-I-were-there small town setting. Then, toss in the most horrendous and heinous kind of evil, creating ripples in the placid pond. Watch as the ripples and their reflections move across the waters. Add the acting talents of three of the truly great performers of the 20th century, Loretta Young, Edward G. Robinson, and Orson Welles, and direction worthy of Hitchcock at his peak. Top it all off with a supporting cast that never misses a beat. That is what you have here. The Stranger may not be the perfect film, but if you like the sense of films like Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt," you'll probably enjoy this. Personally, I have found it more engrossing every time I view it. Even though the mystery is gone, the great performances and pacing really are amazing.
Good Movie to Watch
Storyline and plot here are oddly familiar. I callee out just about every scene before it happened. No surprises here. Lighting of course is perfect and the use of deep space composition as well. Less deep focus as I expected. It's a good film to watch.
Taught, suspenseful thriller
This film has been knocked by many people saying that Orson Welles was forced to work within the strict confines of the Hollywood system. I have absolutely no problem with this. Welles is a master craftsman. He made great films, period. In an interview he said that the studio cut out " a couple of reels" that take place in South America at the beginning of the story that he felt was the best part of the movie. As a viewer I feel that the film is compact and taut. Adding more to it would not help(in my opinion). On the contrary, I think adding more might make the film sluggish. As it stands the film remains dark. You feel that evil is present. You are just not sure what is going to happen next.
The performances in this film are for the most part excellent. Edward G. Robinson is amazing. This could have been a cardboard thin good-guy part. Instead he turns the character of Wilson into a smart, cunning hero. He is self-assured not obsessed. He understands what most people in the town don't: Kindler is a monster who is capable of anything. To catch such a man you have to be several steps ahead of him. Also excellent is Konstantin Shayne as Meinike. You can see the fear and madness in his eyes as he repeats "I am travelling for my health, I am travelling for my health..." before going through customs. Make no mistake, this man is "an obscenity that must be destroyed" to quote Wilson. Just look at his scene with the photographer in South America. He is used to people following his orders. Welles is also very good as Kindler/Rankin. There are moments that you actually feel sympathy for him. His obsession with fixing the town clock is very significant. Here is a man who needs things to be precise and structured. He wants total control of his environment(a good example is how he treats his wife). Welles hints at this man's mania but keeps him human. Even though you want him to be caught, you can't help wondering if he'll get away. Loretta Young is unfortunately just average in this film. She has some good moments (especially in the final scene when she confronts Rankin/Kindler)but her hysterics are just too much. The scene where Wilson is showing her the Nazi atrocities is well played. She keeps a certain composure that works well.
Overall, a very well made thriller with top notch performances and solid direction by one of cinema's masters. I give it 8 clock towers out of 10.
A Famous Classic Film!
Whenever Edward G. Robinson appeared in a picture and Orson Welles directed and starred, you could always count on a great film and this particular film will be enjoyed for many generations because of a great plot and fantastic acting. Edward G. Robinson,(Mr. Wilson),"The Red House",'47 played the role of an investigator, looking for a man who committed horrible crimes during WW II and also a missing friend of his who recently visited this town. Mr. Wilson connects himself with the local town people and plays checkers with a man in town who knows just about everything that goes on with everyone in an New England town. Loretta Young( Mary Longstreet Rankin),"Second Honeymoon",'37, falls in love with Orson Welles,(Dr. Charles Rankin/Franz Kindler),"Butterfly,",'82 and marries the doctor and all kinds of strange things start to happen. Dr. Rankin loves to fix all kinds of clocks and especially a large church steeple clock which has not been working for many years. This story will keep you glued to the silver screen and the ending is very exciting.
Classic Film Noir - Great Flick
A terrific example of film noir with excellent performances by Loretta Young, Edward G. Robinson and Orson Welles. The "clock" is fascinating - you'll be on the edge of your seats. Richard Long has a nice supporting role as Loretta Young's brother.
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