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Classic Film: The Stranger

Photo: Wikipedia.org

Despite having directed multiple critically acclaimed films, Orson Welles only had one box office success, a post-war film noir called The Stranger. The film, released in 1946, follows Mr. Wilson, an agent of the United Nations War Crimes Commission (played by Edward G. Robinson), and his attempt to capture a Nazi fugitive named Franz Kindler (played by Orson Welles). Kindler has assumed a new identity as Charles Rankin, a university professor in Connecticut, and married a young woman named Mary Longstreet (played by Loretta Young). As the film progresses, Longstreet begins to realize that the man she married might not be who he claims to be.

The Stranger succeeds on many levels. Orson Welles’ acting is truly remarkable, he’s convincing as both a college professor and an escaped Nazi. As the director, Welles incorporates many of the highly stylized shots he’s best known for, including the exquisitely edited climax to the film. He also does a great job of depicting how this small idyllic town slowly falls into chaos upon the revelation that there is a Nazi in their midst. Although it’s not as good as Citizen Kane, it’s an excellent film by one of the greatest filmmakers in history.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

February 27, 2010

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