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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2004
"You can threaten me with the bottom pits of hell," Edgar G. Robinson as War Crimes Commissioner Mr. Wilson exhorts a roomful of tired old Europeans, "this obscenity must be destroyed."
The "obscenity" is former Nazi Franz Kindler (Orson Welles), a death camp mastermind who disappeared shortly after the war. Wilson wins his argument and Konrad Meinike, one of Kindler's Nazi subalterns, is allowed to escape, hoping that he'll lead Wilson to Kindler.
Like the best film noirs, this is a handsome movie of shadows and sunlight. Meinike does make a shadowy escape, and Wilson follows him to the bucolic town of Harper, Connecticut. The stakes are implied but clear - Kindler and his ilk are malignant cancers, and Harper is pure and uncorrupt. Evil can't be allowed to sink its rotted tendrils into Harper. Harper with its ivied walls and paper chases, with the boys whistling at pretty blondes and new brides hanging new curtains.
Meinike does find Kindler, now Dr. Charles Rankin, early on in the movie. Evil needs shadows and dark places to grow. "We must stay hidden 'til the day we strike again." Kindler/Rankin is hunted, he knows it, and Meinike is an unwelcome intrusion. The last thing he needs is an old army buddy with the thick German accent hanging around.
Kindler makes and shallow plants the first corpse of the film, and so we're off.
THE STRANGER is a slick little suspense movie that really shouldn't be subjected to intense scrutiny. For instance, it's probably better we believe that Kindler was able to "disappear" into Smalltown, USA so smoothly. It's best we ignore the nagging question of how Rankin was able to woo and win the heart and hand of the beautiful daughter of a liberal Supreme Court Justice so quickly. And, later on in the movie, it's better not to snort at Wilson's rationalization for putting Mary Longstreet Rankin's (Loretta Young) life in danger. And it's definitely better not to wonder how a woman who is astute enough to question someone's advocacy of a "Carthaginian peace" can be so blind to her husband's dark secrets.
Young is wonderful as a young woman who has to journey from naïve young bride to a confused woman torn between love and terror. Robinson is just right as the driven Nazi hunter. Welles, in the lead role, is another story. He's too much the ham for a role like this. He's a little too over the top. Rankin/Kindler is a man who is living a great lie, and the penalty is great if he's found out. The role calls for someone who can internalize dread and terror, and Welles was never a great internalizer. Gregory Peck probably would have been perfect in the role - Peck was always better at repressing, rather than expressing, emotions.
Quibbles aside, I strongly recommend THE STRANGER. There's enough going on here to forgive its minor excesses and inconsistencies. Besides, it LOOKS so darn good. Welles' movies always have something visually interesting going on.
This IS a budget dvd, so the print and sound quality are less than pristine. I've seen worse, and frankly I didn't notice the scratches and splotches and such until I started looking for them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2003
The quality of this DVD is adequate: more watchable than the other Welles "Laserlight Classics," but nowhere near as sharp as, say, the recent DVD releases of "Citizen Kane" or "The Third Man." The bizarro Tony Curtis introduction is perhaps worth the price of admission alone! The bonus documentary is fairly perfunctory, but does contain some interesting and rarely seen trailers of Welles films.
On to the movie itself: In a scenario reminiscient of (but far less effective than) Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt," Edward G. Robinson pursues the title character (Welles), who may or may not be an escaped Nazi, through a sleepy Connecticut town. Although "The Stranger" illustrates Welles' concerns that World War II did not spell the end of fascism, the film is by his own admission more of an attempt at profitable Hollywood product than an artistic statement. Despite this and the film's failure to live up to the inevitable comparison's with "Shadow of a Doubt," "The Stranger" remains a well-paced thriller, more enjoyable when considered apart from the rest of Welles' oeuvre. The trademark Welles style is evident in the South American prologue and the drugstore scenes, and the film achieves genuine suspense during the "paper chase" scene and the grand finale.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2003
As with all the releases from laserlight, gotham, or alpha you can expect horrible picture and sound quality and a low,low price. So once again if you've never seen this film before orsimply just want a version for real cheapit is quite worth it to pick this up. If however, you're anal about sound and picture fidelity just do yourself a favor and wait until someone releases a cleaned up, remastered version of this fine film.
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on June 21, 2001
First of all, concerning the DVD edition of THE STRANGER -- the version I own and am reviewing is the Hollywood Classics release. This is the one that comes with the 30-minute documentary on Orson Welles and the (rather frightening) introduction by Tony Curtis. The picture and sound looked quite adequate to me though there is an annoying "Delta" logo that appears occasionally in the bottom right-hand corner. I had never seen the film before and purchased this DVD in a 3-pack of Orson Welles films. For the low price, the value is excellent and the video quality is quite good, though I'm sure it isn't as clear as the more expensive version. The customer will have to decide if they want to pay three times the price to get a cleaner version or get a serviceable copy for the lower cost.
Now moving on to the film. This movie is much more straightforward than the other Orson Welles films that I've seen. We have a standard good guy and a standard bad guy, and each character is set up in his role almost immediately. Edward G. Robinson plays the Nazi-hunter who has been tracking Orson Welles' character since the end of the Second World War. Welles' plays a Nazi who has gone into hiding and is now living in small town America as a schoolteacher. The acting from the two leads is spellbinding -- as good as any of their best work, with Welles in particular stealing the show. Welles triumphs in the difficult task of playing a man who has successfully integrated himself in a community, yet allowing the audience to see him as the villain that he is. The viewer never questions why the outlaw has been able to fool his friends and neighbors for months but can also pick up on the same clues that Robinson's character does.
The story is not overly complicated and this allows us to pay a lot of attention to the different characters in the movie. The townspeople, without exception, are all given their own motivations without slipping into repetition and the silly catchphrases that movies set in small towns tend to give to their characters. There are also some excellent shots that could only have come from Welles' keen directorial eye. The German's obsession with clocks is an interesting metaphor for the Nazi mindset, but this is kept to a minimum and never becomes overbearing.
I highly recommend this interesting film for anyone who enjoys good acting and intriguing storylines. The documentary included on the DVD is very superficial and most of the 30 minutes are taken up by trailers of films, some of which barely feature Orson Welles himself. It's not something that the Welles fan is going to get too much out of and it does not contain enough information for the casual viewer. The introduction by Tony Curtis is frighteningly odd.
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on June 14, 2001
Right off the bat don't buy this dvd go out and look for the Roan Group double dvd with The Stranger and Cause For Alarm on it. Now that that has been established let's delve into the film. This film is a great introduction into the world of Orson Welles. Welles' films are always visually stunning a bit confusing, stark and thought provoking. And The Stranger posess all of the above mentioned attributes but just a litles watered down making it the most easy to watch of all of Welles' films. Welles' plays a Nazi war criminal hiding out in a suburbia and he weds Loretta Young to seem even more in touch with Americana. But when a man from his past comes and pays him a visit all hell breaks loose! Welles' has a very unique face in most of his other films he is clean shaven and looks like a cherub but here he has a mustache which makes him look sinister but still trusting due to his angel like eyes and you never wonder why Young's character stands by her man even after he tells her he's a killer! The camera angles are a lot less perverse than Welles' other films but his visual style is still present here! The scene after he kills his former comrade and the wind grabs the paper trail is just haunting. And the final sequence is also well done. Welles was a Hollywood out cast due to his often abstract cinematic ventures and wanted to prove he could make standard Hollowood fluff but with this film he went above and beyond the call of duty.
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on November 20, 1998
The recut and re-released TOUCH OF EVIL has revived interest in the work of director Orson Welles, and rightfully so. But what's to be said of THE STRANGER, often sniffed at by Welles scholars as being "too conventional"?
Actually, quite a bit.
THE STRANGER was made at a time when Welles hadn't directed a film in nearly four years. At that time, rumors were circulating as to his unreliability (and lack of marketability). To a certain extent, his reputation for being an out-of-control highbrow was a deserved one; he was also, however, an undeniable talent.
THE STRANGER demonstrates this. While the story of the escaped Nazi Franz Kindler (played by Welles) is told in straightforward fashion, there are flourishes of camera and characterization worthy of the maker of CITIZEN KANE. It must be admitted that Welles himself in the lead is a bit hammy at times; however, Edward G. Robinson (as a Nazi-hunter) and Loretta Young (as Kindler's unsuspecting wife) have never been better. The plot, too, is quite suspenseful, aided by lively dialogue written by Anthony Viellor, John Huston, and Welles himself.
And Welles the director keeps the picture moving. Particularly fine are the scenes wherein the frightened Young discovers her husband's true identity; the ensuing cat-and-mouse game gets a grip on the audience that doesn't relax until the bravura finale.
Along the way are Wellesian touches that complement--rather than intrude on--the story. Billy House and Constantin Shane (in smaller parts) make significant impact; the scene near the beginning where Kindler murders a good friend is effectively done with crane shots; and a film- within-the-film introduces the Holocaust to American movie-goers. Good, too, is the performance of Richard Long as Young's little brother.
In later life, Welles brushed off THE STRANGER, calling it the most impersonal of his movies, done only to show that he could direct as well as the next fellow (which, according to some wags, meant coming in under budget and on schedule). This is unfair to THE STRANGER, which is a taught, intelligent, well-made thriller.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon January 20, 2011
RKO Radio Pictures presents "THE STRANGER" (25 May 1946) (95 min/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) -- The Stranger is often considered Orson Welles' most "traditional" Hollywood-style directorial effort --- Welles plays a college professor named Charles Rankin, who lives in a pastoral Connecticut town with his lovely wife Mary (Loretta Young) --- One afternoon, an extremely nervous German gentleman named Meineke arrives in town --- Professor Rankin seems disturbed, but not unduly so, by Meineke's presence --- He invites the stranger for a walk in the woods, and as they journey farther and farther away from the center of town, we learn that kindly professor Rankin is actually notorious Nazi war criminal Franz Kindler --- Conscience-stricken by his own genocidal wartime activities, Meineke has come to town to beg his ex-superior Kindler to give himself up.

The Stranger, while not too complicated, offers a thrilling, suspense-filled plot --- It must have been eerie to viewers who watched it when first released.

Oscar nominated for "Best Writing, Original Story" by Victor Trivas

Under the production staff of:
Orson Welles [Director]
Anthony Veiller [Screenplay]
Victor Trivas [adaptation]
Decla Dunning [adaptation]
Victor Trivas [Story]
Sam Spiegel [Producer] (as S.P. Eagle)
Bronislau Kaper [Original Music]
Russell Metty [Cinematographer]
Ernest J. Nims [Film Editor]

1. Orson Welles [aka: George Orson Welles]
Date of Birth: 6 May 1915 - Kenosha, Wisconsin
Date of Death: 10 October 1985 - Hollywood, California

2. Edward G. Robinson [aka: Emmanuel Goldenberg]
Date of Birth: 12 December 1893 - Bucharest, Romania
Date of Death: 26 January 1973 - Hollywood, California

3. Loretta Young [aka: Gretchen Young]
Date of Birth: 6 January 1913 - Salt Lake City, Utah
Date of Death: 12 August 2000 - Los Angeles, California

the cast includes:
Edward G. Robinson - Mr. Wilson
Loretta Young - Mary Longstreet
Orson Welles - Professor Charles Rankin
Philip Merivale - Judge Adam Longstreet
Richard Long - Noah Longstreet
Konstantin Shayne - Konrad Meinike
Byron Keith - Dr. Jeffrey Lawrence
Billy House - Mr. Potter
Martha Wentworth - Sara

Mr. Jim's Ratings:
Quality of Picture & Sound: 5 Stars
Performance: 5 Stars
Story & Screenplay: 5 Stars
Overall: 5 Stars [Original Music, Cinematography & Film Editing]

Total Time: 95 min on DVD ~ RKO Radio Pictures ~ (02/15/2011)
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2003
�The Stranger� is certainly an appropriate title. The film IS a strange one for director/actor Orson Welles � it was uncharacteristically completed on time and under budget. It is also a fairly straight-ahead thriller that just barely has the �Welles touch.� In fact, compared to Welles� other work, it seems�well, ordinary.
Welles plays a Nazi war criminal who has found refuge as a professor in a sleepy college town. This is the type of town where nothing much ever happens and the owner of the town�s general store knows everyone and everything about them. When Edward G. Robinson comes to town looking for �antiques,� suspicions are aroused, especially Welles�.
The best parts of �The Stranger� are the cat-and-mouse game between Welles and Robinson as well as the relationship between Welles and his new wife Loretta Young. The film still holds up as a good thriller, but not a great one. The second half of the film feels too manipulated. You might say, �But Welles was a MASTER of manipulation,� and you�d be right. But the difference here is in the manipulation of supporting characters who aren�t given sufficient room to develop or to think.
The commentary track by Jeffrey Lyons is, unfortunately, unremarkable. Lyons spends much of his commentary giving us a resume of each film the actors made, rather than discussing the merits and qualities of the film. I was hoping that someone with the knowledge and expertise that Lyons possesses would give us more.
Although not as good as other Welles films, every film lover should watch the film to catch glimpses of greatness from Welles, Robinson, and Young.
95 minutes
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2003
This particular DVD version of "The Stranger" would have been much better without several of the so-called "extras." First, that annoying Delta logo that pops up in the lower right hand corner every so often. That should be the first to go. Second, the bizarre introduction and endnotes from Tony Curtis. What is that about? Lastly, the puny "Orson Welles On Film" documentary left a lot to be desired. It was mostly still photographs of Welles in various poses and long movie clips with some bland narration. For a much better documentary of Welles' career, I recommend "The Battle Over Citizen Kane."
You may wonder why I mentioned all this before talking about the movie itself...well, all the bells and whistles were distracting. However, I did enjoy the movie itself. Edward G. Robinson does a fine job as the Nazi hunter who has tracked down a fugitive (Welles) to a small Conneticut town. Orson Welles gives a quietly sinister performance as Rankin/Kindler; even his little "Mm-hms" are chilling, and when he scowls and glares, it's pretty intimidating. Loretta Young gets a little shrill as Rankin's dim bulb wife, but gives an adequate performance.
In summary: the film is well worth watching, especially for fans of Orson Welles. If you're going to buy it for keeps, however, you may want to look for another version that is better quality.
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on April 18, 2015
Very good ending.
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