The Stranger (4 stars)

The Stranger

(PG) 91min

That this 1946 noir was the only Orson Welles film to show profit on release and that it was the director's least favourite picture might suggest an absence of his signature talent. But while Welles had been pressured into making a more conventional (ie commercial) film after what RKO Radio Pictures saw as his disastrous second film, the studio butchered but still brilliant The Magnificent Ambersons, the auteur nevertheless managed to turn in a terrific cat-and-mouse thriller that's full of recognisably Wellesian touches (notably the climax set in a church clocktower).

The great man himself plays a German war criminal hiding out in a small Connecticut town, where he poses as a teacher and is engaged to lovely Loretta Young. Hot on his tail, however, is Nazi hunter Edward G Robinson. That casting was forced on Welles (who wanted his regular player Agnes Moorhead), but it works splendidly anyway. No extras.

Trailer: The Stranger

The Stranger

  • 4 stars
  • 1946
  • US
  • 1h 35min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Orson Welles
  • Cast: Edward G Robinson, Loretta Young, Orson Welles

Welle's third film chronicles Wilson (Robinson), from the Allies War Crimes Commission, as he patiently stalks a former Nazi, now a teacher in a small Connecticut town.