The Stranger (Welles, 1946)

The Stranger (Orson Welles, 1946)

While parts of this film were great, it was far too flawed. First, the plot and the characterization are ridiculous. Welles plays an unreformed nazi hiding in America, attempting to avoid arrest. The film shows him as being settled with a job and a new wife. The man must have really been in love to attach himself to so many things at the risk of being found. However, as his wife learns more, he quickly decides she is expendable and must be killed. (Though she doesn’t even believe the truth about him, and eats up every lie he tells her.) While Welles’ character could have been extremely interesting, he is instead used to enhance the plot’s entertainment value, which is disappointing.

I guess Welles does succeed in making the film entertaining, even if it is at the cost of his main character. Fortunately, Edward G. Robinson gives a great performance as the crime war officer. He blends in with the townspeople, gains many people’s trust, and convinces even the smartest folks to do things that really only benefit him. As almost a complete opposite of Welles’ character, his character is written very well. The cinematography is also fantastic. So many shadows, semi-long takes, and beautiful black and white contrast. It’s too bad the rest of the film didn’t match its quality.  6.5/10


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