The Stranger

Movie Information

In Brief: Orson Welles' most financially successful (and therefore least admired) film, The Stranger is a fairly straightforward suspense thriller — but it's a suspense thriller that only Welles could make. Its hero is a Nazi hunter (Edward G. Robinson) who's obsessed to the point of being a little unbalanced. Its villain is an unregenerate Nazi (Welles) hiding in a picture-book American town, complete with a church topped with an improbable and out-of-place clock with life-size clockwork figures. It may not be high art, but it makes for a terrific movie.
Genre: Suspense Thriller
Director: Orson Welles
Starring: Edward G. Robinson, Loretta Young, Orson Welles, Philip Merivale, Richard Long
Rated: NR

From my 2012 review: With the typical perversity of humankind, it follows that the only movie Orson Welles directed that turned a profit on its original release — The Stranger (1946) — is also his least celebrated. A film historian friend of mine recently grumbled that a “well-behaved Welles” wasn’t really Welles. I understand his point, but it’s my take that it was less a matter of Welles being well-behaved on The Stranger than it was the fact that the material was peculiarly suited to his cinematic world of obsessives. Here, after all, is a film that gave him two obsessives for the price of one — one a rank villain and the other a hero of dubious morality in his own right. It also afforded Welles the chance to bring his expressionist style to an otherwise Norman Rockwell-like New England, which allowed him to lay bare the corruption beneath the facade of a sunlit vision of small town America. In its own way, The Stranger is similar to Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (1943) on one side and David Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986) on the other. All this (and a grotesquely Baroque climax that must have warmed Welles’ heart) is simply unforgettable, and makes for a movie that I find hard not to love.

Full review here

The Hendersonville Film Society will show The Stranger Sunday, March 30, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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