Friday, October 21, 2011

The Stranger (1946)

"Murder can be a chain...."

- World War II is over and Charles Rankin has it made in the shade. A steady job at a local Connecticut university and his marriage to a trusting, beautiful, and connected sweetheart make the perfect situation for hiding his true identity: Nazi holocaust orchestrator Franz Kindler. But Rankin's world of safety suddenly shatters around him when one of his former concentration camp subordinates Konrad Meinike finds him in his suburban hideout with War Crimes Commission investigator Mr. Wilson following behind.

An interesting on-screen display of the lingering fears of Nazism in post World War II America - they can walk amongst us, they can look like us, they can talk like us, but they are dangerous murderers - Orson Welles' The Stranger (1946) is a dark trip into madness. Nominated for an Academy Award (only Victor Trivas got the nomination even though Anthony Veiller and Decla Dunning worked on it and there was also some uncredited help from John Huston and Orson Welles) the script includes both a gripping and dark overall story and great dialogue.

The principle members of the cast really excel in the film. Orson Welles stars as well as directs the film as the disturbed Charles Rankin but the most impressive performances come from Edward G. Robinson, calm but phenomenal as Mr. Wilson, and Loretta Young who is simply extraordinary as Rankin's wife Mary. As with most Orson Welles pictures, this film looks really ahead of its time in both content and visuals with its especially dark atmosphere and unique shots (there are some particularly excellent crane shots). The Stranger is a fantastic film noir thriller - I cannot for the life of me figure out why Orson Welles has named it as his least favorite directed film.

CBC Rating: 9/10

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