Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Films I've Overlooked: The Stranger (1946)

I haven't seen many Orson Welles films, but I've seen Citizen Kane a few times, and felt right at home here, because there were plenty of Kane-ey moments. By that I mean unexpected (but effective) camera angles, unusual close-ups, intense use of shadow, wild eyeballs, and music that sometimes jumps way over the top for dramatic effect.

And Welles' acting is every bit as peculiar (and as good) as his directing. He's a Nazi war criminal who's come to Smalltown, U.S.A to disappear, and is about to marry the daughter of a Supreme Court Justice as the first step in his Happily Ever After. But along comes Edward G. Robinson, bulldog investigator for the War Crimes Commission, to shoot Orson's dreams to hell. 

Loretta Young is the loving, trusting bride slowly forced to face the fact she's married a monster. She and Welles together account for about 90% of the wild eyeballs. Also on hand is a young Richard Long as her college student brother, twelve years away from 77 Sunset Strip and nineteen years away from The Big Valley

This one never got boring, and built up to a clocktower climax that must have been the envy of Alfred Hitchcock. Dang, that's two Overlooked Films in a row that I actually enjoyed. Will the streak last another week? Stay tuned.

The rest of this week's Overlooked Films are now playing at Sweet Freedom.


Anonymous said...

Oh, it's very good movie. Orson Welles excellent played villains always.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Have seen this one quite a few times and the suspense holds up.

-> Ray said...

This is one of my favorite films.

Oscar Case said...

Orson Wells always did a fine job and so did E.G. Robinson.

Ron Scheer said...

Yeah, Welles could be a little strange on camera. I'm thinking of THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI, and his Harry Lime is so creepy, also the fat man in TOUCH OF EVIL. Good review; I don't think I've seen this one.

Albie The Good said...

Here's a memory for you...

Way back in the 1980s, in college in Arkansas, my friend John Errickson and I wandered into the Dorm TV room about One am and turned on the TV. He says-- out loud-- "God i wish there was an orson Welles movie on..."

As if by magic we turned the channel to the local PBS affiliate and they were playing THE STRANGER, no lie! We were blown away... talk about divine intervention!

I still love the scene where Edward G. phones his boss and says he has decided to stay and investigate. "After all," he says, "Who but a Nazi would so quickly point out that Marx was a Jew?"

I don't know exactly why but that has always been the pivotal moment of the film for me.

Anyway thanks for sharing about this forgotten classic!


Lexman said...

Great movie, may be one of his lesser known but a must see.

Speaking of Orson Welles, just saw Sacha Guitry's Napoleon (1955) where Orson plays the role of Sir Hudson Lowe, very funny, not much dialogue but great facial expression!