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The Stranger [DVD] [1946]

25 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Orson Welles, Edward G. Robinson, Loretta Young, Philip Merivale, Richard Long
  • Directors: Orson Welles
  • Writers: Orson Welles, Anthony Veiller, Decla Dunning, John Huston, Victor Trivas
  • Producers: Sam Spiegel
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Eureka
  • DVD Release Date: 18 Mar. 2002
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000060NYO
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 163,541 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

DVD Special Features: Interactive Menus
Language: English
Subtitles: None


The Stranger, according to Orson Welles, "is the worst of my films. There is nothing of me in that picture. I did it to prove that I could put out a movie as well as anyone else." True, set beside Citizen Kane, Touch of Evil, or even The Trial, The Stranger is as close to production-line stuff as the great Orson ever came. But even on autopilot Welles still leaves most filmmakers standing.

The shadow of the Second World War hangs heavy over the plot. A war crimes investigator, played by Edward G Robinson, tracks down a senior Nazi, Franz Kindler, to a sleepy New England town where he's living in concealment as a respected college professor. The script, credited to Anthony Veiller but with uncredited input from Welles and John Huston, is riddled with implausibilities: we're asked to believe, for a start, that there'd be no extant photos of a top Nazi leader. The casting's badly skewed, too. Welles wanted Agnes Moorehead as the investigator and Robinson as Kindler, but his producer, Sam Spiegel, wouldn't wear it. So Welles himself plays the supposedly cautious and self-effacing fugitive--and if there was one thing Welles could never play, it was unobtrusive. What's more, Spiegel chopped out most of the two opening reels set in South America, in Welles' view, "the best stuff in the picture".

Still, the film's far from a write-off. Welles' eye for stunning visuals rarely deserted him and, aided by Russell Metty's skewed, shadowy photography, The Stranger builds to a doomy grand guignol climax in a clock tower that Hitchcock must surely have recalled when he made Vertigo. And Robinson, dogged in pursuit, is as quietly excellent as ever.

On the DVD: not much in the way of extras, except a waffly full-length commentary from Russell Cawthorne that tells us about the history of clock-making and where Edward G was buried, but precious little about the making of the film. Print and sound are acceptable, but though remastering is claimed, there's little evidence of it. --Philip Kemp

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Sam Tyler on 13 Feb. 2012
Format: DVD
Orson Welles was a class act back `int day. He may have been a bit eccentric, but he could knock out a decent film noir when he wanted to. He may be famed for `Citizen Kane', but he did make other noir, including `The Stranger', a film he also directed and starred in. Welles plays Professor Charles Rankin an upstanding new member of a small town community, but are there hidden depths to him? He does appear to have forthright opinions on certain political issues. He is to marry local women Mary Longsheet, the daughter of the Town Judge, but then Mr Wilson comes along. Wilson is on the hunt for a man believed to have escaped from Germany during the recent war - his path leads to the same small town as Prof Rankin.

`The Stranger' is basic film noir in that it does not try to do anything particularly new within the genre, but it does it well. The story is not the strongest element; you pretty much know what is going to happen, but this does not matter when you have some great performances at the centre of the film. Welles is excellent as the mysterious Prof Rankin. He is not an out and out ogre, as a lesser actor would play him. Welles gives him some much needed human elements. As the detective foil Edward G Robinson is brilliant in his `Colombo' style role as the untidy looking detective who actually knows a lot more than he is letting on. As the case draws to an end cracks start to appear in all the characters and the film rises to a nice boil.

Like so many noir films there are one or two elements that let it down. The female characters are underdeveloped and, as mentioned, the plot is a little threadbare. However, strong male leads and decent direction from Welles makes this a better slice of noir pie.

The version I watched was a good clean transfer, but did not have any extras of note.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 15 Sept. 2010
Format: DVD
One of Orson Welles' periodic attempts to prove he could be commercial, The Stranger casts him as a pillar of small town Harper, Connecticut's community, a history teacher, son-in-law of the local judge and also the local Nazi war criminal being tracked down by Edward G. Robinson's Nazi hunter (who susses Welles' true identity when he refuses to acknowledge Karl Marx as a German and dismisses him as a Jew). Robinson underplays his role well and provides a good contrast to Welles' slightly broader portrait (leaving his own wedding reception to bury a body and later doodling a swastika during a phone call), while Loretta Young goes impressively through a nervous breakdown as his unknowing wife.

For the most part eschewing the more expressionistic lighting of film noir for a clean, open-air look (most of the film takes place in bright daylight), the film is in many ways similar but superior to Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt in its portrait of evil hidden in the midst of a respectable and decent community ("In Harper there's nothing to be afraid of," a character notes). It's not Welles at his very best, but it does very nicely all the same.

Not so nice is the job you'll have finding a decent DVD copy: since falling into the Public Domain the film has been released by dozens of different labels in prints vary from poor to terrible. MGM/UA's French PAL DVD release is one of the better ones, but it's not so easy to find so you might end up having to take pot luck and hope for the best with one of the many UK budget releases.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 7 Feb. 2001
Format: VHS Tape
Orson Welles directed this film shortly after Kane to help finish his 3 contract deal at RKO studios. Aalthough not as good as Kane or The Magnificent Ambersons, it contains a well directed finishing scene in the clocktower and Welles delivers a menacing performance as a Nazi on the run. This is a must have for anyone who appreciates the brilliance of Orson.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Alex da Silva on 26 May 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Nazi-hunter Edward G Robinson (Wilson) tracks former Nazi bad guy Orson Welles (Franz Kindler) to a small town called 'Harper' where he is living under an assumed name of Charles Rankin. Welles is a teacher with a passion for clocks and Robinson arrives on the day of Welles's marriage to Loretta Young (Mary). Robinson sets about trying to prove Welles's true identity to those around him. Does he succeed or can Welles outwit him.....?..

The film plays out at a good pace with a good cast. A special mention must go to Edward G Robinson as the likable Nazi-hunter and Billy House as Mr Potter, the general store manager whose main obsession is beating his customers at checkers. These two have some amusing scenes together as they pit their wits against one another although we know that Robinson isn't at all interested in winning the game of checkers. The scene is repeated again with House and Orson Welles to good dramatic effect as we know that Welles also isn't bothered about winning.

There are a couple of stupid moments. The first being a scene at the beginning of the film where a group of grown-up schoolboys run around littering the woods with paper. It seems slightly strange for young men of this age to get so excited by playing paperchase. It's a bit gay and the comment to a woman who walks past is utterly unconvincing as these young men dressed in their gym outfits begin to run around the park chasing each other. They are NOT heterosexual males so don't try to fool us that they are. The second stupid moment is when Robinson sets up Loretta Young to be murdered by Welles. He does this and then tells Philip Merivale, who plays her father, who doesn't seem to mind! What!!! OK - set up my daughter to be killed....thank you. Unbelievable. Still, it progresses the storyline.
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Query on a small point I didn't understand. Help anyone? 0 12 Jun 2010
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