4 Feb 2014

THE STRANGER (1946)

By David Lee Andrews   Posted at  08:30   ORSON WELLES

The Stranger 1946 Cover Psst! Hey, you. Do you see that strange looking chap sitting in the corner of the room fiddling about with his widgets? Yeah. That's the feller. The funny faced feller with the dangerous side parting and the chubby face. Well, doesn't he look like that actor who starred in this 95 minute move made in 1946? You know. The one Directed by and Starring: Orson Welles, with Edward G. Robinson, and Loretta Young. No? No he doesn't? Oh! It must be just me then.


The Stranger - The Remastered Edition - The Poster


THE STORY:

According to the people living in the small town of Harper, Professor Charles Rankin (Orson Welles) is nothing more than the fortunate history teacher who struck it lucky when he married the local mayor's beautiful young daughter, Mary Longstreet (Loretta Young).

But they're wrong you know. Very wrong. For my name isn't Charles Rankin, folks! Oh no! Secretly my real name is Franz Kindler. And I'm the notorious Nazi war criminal who has had to kill an old work colleague of mine, because he led the investigator, Mister Wilson (Edward G. Robinson), to my very doorstep.

Admittedly. I did not know who Mister Wilson was at first glance. Cause he posed to be an antiquities expert of sorts, charming the local townspeople with his chubby faced ways and disposition.

However, over time he eventually managed to deduce who I am and what I stood for. And this resulted in a rather stranded face off between him, my wife, my brother in law, plus my pet dog that I also had to snuff out.

Still. I suppose that is why what next transpires all comes to a head, when I oversee the fixing of the church's broken down clock-tower. As a revelation is revealed - a secret agenda comes out from left field - a wife is saved from a fall - and at the end of the day a notorious Nazi war criminal gets punched in the ball.    

Ouch!




THE REVIEW:
As the legend goes, it was none other than 'The Man Who Would Be Kings's', John Huston, who was originally signed on to direct this film, 'The Stranger'. However, when Orson Wells asked its producer, Sam Spiegel, if he could direct this flick, Sam agreed, but only if Orson complied with the following three provisos.

The Stranger Movie Poster
Firstly, the script had to be edited by Ernest J. Nims. Secondly, any script changes during production were prohibited. And thirdly, if the cost of the film went over budget, Welles himself would have to pay for these additional costs out of his very own pocket.

Thankfully, Orson agreed to all of these conditions posed to him. And good job too. Or otherwise I wouldn't have been able to sit down and watch this masterful piece of filmmaking in action.

Yeah. Straight up, folks! This is one amazing movie because its jam packed with innovative camera work, moody atmospheric lighting, plus a bunch of great actors who've managed to tell one hell of a suspenseful tale.

Honestly. It was so suspenseful, nigh on all the way throughout this crime-thriller, I couldn't help but exclaim such stock phrases as 'Look out', 'Don't go there', 'Shit!', Whatever next?', excreta, excreta, excreta.

I mean, just take a look at how this movie starts off for instance. It begins with a fractured tablo, depicting an elderly man being released from foreign climes. Then you'll see the man in question approaching Orson's character, conveying to him both the story and the plot, whilst Edward's character fatefully trails him from a discrete distance. And finally, there, once the conceptual narrative is ultimately revealed, you then try to figure out what the hell is going to happen next.


Orson Welles and Edward G. Robinson in The Stranger


The Stranger Poster
Alright. So maybe my quick summation relating to the opening of this film doesn't appear very original or dynamic in tone. But trust me folks when I say that in filmic-form it truly is. As from then on in you can expect to see something that is almost as amazing as my usual filmic-facts. (1) 'International Pictures' first released this production on the same day Jordan was granted its independence by the United Kingdom -- the 25th of May, 1946. (2) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'Intruder' in Poland; 'The Trace of the Stranger' in Germany, plus during production, it was given the working title of, 'Date with Destiny'. (3) The majority of this movie was shot at 'United Artists Studios', 7200 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood, California. (4) Following World War II, this was the first mainstream American movie which featured actual footage of Nazi concentration camps. (5) Initially Orson Welles wanted his good friend, Agnes Moorehead, to play the part of Mister Wilson. But the studio denied his request, and gave this role to Edward G. Robinson instead. (6) 'The Todd School for Boys', which was mentioned in this flick, was the name of the school Welles himself attended in real life. (7) After this picture emerged from the shadows, Orson Welles narrated the western, 'Duel in the Sun'; Edward G. Robinson starred in the drama, 'The Red House'; and Loretta Young starred in the comedy, 'The Perfect Marriage'. (8) Despite being the only film he ever made that gained a lot of notoriety upon its release, Orson Welles still said that this was his least favorite of all of his films.


The Stranger 1946 Starring Orson Welles, Edward G. Robinson, and Loretta Young


Hey! Did you take note of point eight in my trivia splurge, folks? With Orson saying that he wasn't too keen on 'The Stranger'. My God! If he thought that this was the worst movie he ever made, I wouldn't want to know what he thought about the rest of them.

Still, I must divest. Because all in all I thought this movie was just a very magical, atmospheric, and suspenseful movie to purview. Not only because all of the actors performed solidly throughout this flick, and managed to convey a charming hunter / hunted story-line. But also because the message behind this movie worked as well, as it conveyed a very timely tale of war and wanderlust that still stands true to this very day.

Nuff said. Amen.

THE RATING: A-

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