Film review: The Stranger (1946), directed by Orson Welles
Mr Wilson (Edward G Robinson) works as a detective tracking wanted war criminals and bringing them to justice. When on the trail of a prominent Nazi Franz Kindler he follows a man called Konrad Meineke (Konstantin Shayne) to a town in Connecticut, USA. Suspicions fall on a history professor, Charles Rankin (Orson Welles), because he’s a relative newcomer to the town – and today he’s getting married to Mary (Loretta Young).
Meineke goes missing and the plot thickens. Who was he, and what was he doing in town? And isn’t it curious that Rankin’s hobby is tinkering with clocks when that’s exactly what Franz Kindler’s known for?
Also starring Philip Merivale as Judge Longstreet, Richard Long as Noah, Byron Keith as Dr Lawrence, Martha Wentworth as Sara the housekeeper, and Billy House as Mr Potter.
I willingly admit that I was sold on watching this film based entirely on the fact that a 1940s Orson Welles is in it (in a moustache, sadface), and I knew very little else about it. The Stranger turned out to be a thriller about an escaped Nazi. At first I thought it was going to be something to do with Communism, as I kept hearing the word “comrade”, but apparently not.
Acting is really good and the story is intriguing, although I wasn’t keen on what happened to the dog. It starts out a bit slow, perhaps, but I didn’t really notice, because I was rolling out pieces of dough at the time. The pace then picks up and keeps going all the way to the end. There are some very unsubtle parts (doodling a swastika while on the phone? Come on), but all in all it’s a genuinely well-made film. Surprisingly so. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did! Should you come across it, give it a chance.
4.5 out of 5 abandoned suitcases.
(UPDATE 2021: The Stranger was a way for Welles to prove to the Hollywood studio system he was capable of making bankable, run-of-the-mill films. I think he did very well.)