Release year: 1946
Director: Orson Welles
Screenwriter: Anthony Welles, Edward G. Robinson, Victor Trivas
Starring: Orson Welles, Loretta Young, Edward G. Robinson, Konstantin Shayne, Philip Merivale, Richard Long
Ratings: 1 Oscar nomination: Best Original Story.
War crime investigator Mr. Wilson (Robinson) follow the newly released Meinike (Shayne) to the small town of Harper, Connecticut. Here he hopes he will lead him to Nazi fugitive Franz Kindler (Welles), to whom Meinike was an associate.
For many Welles topped with his first feature film (Citizen Kane, 1941) but it was this, his third, that was the first he made in the film noir genre where he made quite an impact. Welles famed and unusual directorial style with grand use of lighting and camera angels is a perfect fit for the genre and adds a great amount of the exact right atmosphere to the movie. Welles (Touch of Evil, 1958) placed himself in the villain part, leaving it to Robinson (Key Largo, 1948), a actor who is mostly known for playing the bad guy, to play the hero, a deed he manage to do with great success. Add Young (Eternally Yours, 1939) as the naïve damsel in distress and the formula for a proper film noir is in place. While not the most known by either Welles or in the genre, The Stranger spins an intriguing web of thrills in a melodramatic way that keeps the viewer gripped and is most definitely worth a watch to anyone enjoying classic crime movies.
The first mainstream American movie to show footage of Nazi concentration camps following the World War II.
Knowing Orson Welles‘s reputation for including long exposition scenes in his movies, International Pictures gave editor Ernest J. Nims the freedom to cut any sequences from the film that he felt were unnecessary. To Welles’ disgust, Nims ended up cutting almost 30 minutes of Welles’ final version, including 19 minutes from the film’s opening. The footage is believed lost as even the original negatives have gone missing. In an early scene in the movie, where the war criminal, Konrad Meineke, is in a South American port, being followed by a female agent, played by Lillian Molieri. Her husband, an agent named Marvales, calls Edward G. Robinson to report, “My wife is following him. ” This is a leftover scene from the original opening of the movie, filmed by Orson Welles but later cut by editor Ernest J. Nims, featuring a husband-and-wife team of agents shadowing Meineke as he searched for Franz Kindler. The original sequence ended with the wife stumbling upon a Nazi hideout and being killed by attack dogs.
Though not as well remembered as some of Orson Welles‘ more original projects, this was the only film directed by Welles to show a profit in its original release.