The Stranger (1946)

the stranger poster 1946 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Strong story, great cast, good look


Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Stranger

Studio:  International Pictures

Genre(s):  Mystery/Suspense/Drama

Release Date(s):  May 25, 1946

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

the stranger orson welles loretta young

You’d still love me if I did some horrible stuff including to you…right?

A Nazi war criminal named Konrad Meinike (Konstantin Shayne) escapes his prison and sets out to find his ally who has hidden in America.  Unbeknownst to him, Nazi hunter Mr. Wilson (Edward G. Robinson) orchestrated the escape and is secretly following him to the quiet              town of Harper, Connecticut.  In Harper, Franz Kindler (Orson Welles) is hiding in plain sight as Professor Charles Rankin.  He’s marrying Mary Longstreet (Loretta Young) who is the daughter of prominent Supreme Court judge Adam Longstreet (Philip Merivale).  When Konrad finds Charles Rankin, Rankin’s cover potentially blown…and the game of cat and mouse begins!

Directed by Orson Welles, The Stranger is a post-World War II suspense thriller.  Following Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons in 1942 (and 1943’s Journey into Fear which he served as an uncredited co-director), the movie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and was Welles’ only profitable film upon release.  The movie is available in public domain.

the stranger edward g robinson

I’m looking for a “stranger”…ya see?

My sister really like The Stranger, and I saw her copy of the film.  With a lot of public domain movies, it seems like they are often grainy and not the best transfers…but in a way for a movie like The Stranger, it almost works better.

The movie is different in that it was an early attempt to tackle the post-World War II subject of the Holocaust.  The Nazis in the film are aware of their crimes and the Reich’s goals of genocide and it isn’t just about world domination.  Nowadays, this is a more common theme, but to explore it so soon after the war had to be kind of jolting.  The film does have strange pacing, but the attempts of Wilson (and Mary’s brother Noah) to try to catch Rankin is fun…Mary’s melodrama is less so.

The role of Wilson was originally intended for a woman and Orson Welles wanted Agnes Moorehead.  This would have been an interesting twist, but I do really enjoy Edward G. Robinson and his interaction with Welles, Loretta Young, and other characters.  Robinson’s aided by Richard Long who helps seek out the truth, and Billy House is a bit of a scene stealer as the multi-job holding Mr. Potter.

the stranger ending clock tower orson welles

Dang…I should not have fixed this clock

The Magnificent Ambersons and of course Citizen Kane are very visual and stylized.  The Stranger is a bit more straightforward.  Welles always does a good job with taking up unique framing to make the simple shots more interesting and the clock tower set is fun.

The Stranger is one of those films that might have slipped by some fans, but due to being in public domain, it is relatively easy to find.  Despite the success of the film, Welles wasn’t a fan.  The movie was hacked to pieces by editor (allegedly about thirty minutes was cut) and the long version is believed to be lost.  Normally something like that would upset me, but what is left of The Stranger is still good…it might have been great without the edits.  I just try not think about it.  Welles followed The Stranger with The Lady from Shanghai in 1947.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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