Orson Welles’s least known film as a director also turned out to be one of his most fascinating. “The Stranger” was an immediate postwar thriller about tracking down Nazi war criminals (Hitchcock did the same with “Notorious”). Edward G. Robinson plays a government investigator tracking down charismatic Nazi Franz Kindler (Orson Welles) , the man who invented the extermination camp, to a small town in Connecticut. Kindler is undercover as a history professor and is about to marry the daughter of a supreme court justice. Sounds like the perfect plan, until the body of a foreign man is found in the woods. Welles makes a terrific Franz Kindler; he’s always been convincing when it came to playing villains (“The Third Man” and “Touch Of Evil” comes to mind), and “The Stranger” is no exception, eventhough he gives himself away much too quickly in a conversation by stating that “Marx wasn’t a German, he was a Jew”. I guess Welles deserves credit for this very underrated film noir; of course I can’t rank it on the same level as “Citizen Kane” or even “Touch Of Evil”, but it’s still a fascinating piece, with a one of a kind atmosphere, and a thrilling finale (one that reminds me of Hitchcock’s “Vertigo”).
Categories: The 40's