The Stranger (1946)

Directed by Orson Welles
Written by Anthony Vellier

So, haha, much to my surprise, apparently this one is an Orson Welles thing. Not only did I not know he was in it when I sat down to enjoy my next “Noir-vember” film, but I had no clue he directed it until I saw his name on the screen. Funny thing, huh? Well, I must admit that this pleasant surprise in what was supposed to be my first Edward G. Robinson noir turned out to be a goldmine of good fortune. Not only did I get to be introduced to the great Robinson, but I got to see him alongside someone I had already known to be great. The two together take this noir to the next level and make it the best of the bunch so far this month.

To be perfectly honest this film’s storyline seemed a little more pedestrian than the previous two films this month, but there was something about it that made it work all the more better. The acting for one was much better with the team of Welles and Robinson. What great interplay between the two, when they were on screen together and even when they were not. Welles, overall, is just one hell of a motion picture figure. As an actor he just has that charisma that you need, that aura about him that sets him apart. I can’t wait to get into more Robinson noirs now too. From this film I can tell he could be awesome in a bunch of others. The Stranger feels more complete to me, like there is something bigger at the root of the film and its not just a visualization of a short story. It comes off as being much fuller, something of a benefit of being the product of such a sure handed director as Welles.

Orson Welles, while not placing anything I would call as flashy in the film, save perhaps the wonderful finale, constructs the story and lets it breath with the talent playing the characters (himself included). The Nazi thing seems to be a bit overdone, but this is a comment coming from 2012. I imagine when the film was released just after the war in 1946 it came off as much more effective, had people looking around them wondering if there was a Nazi among them. Something as simple as that bit of context can make a film more enjoyable for me. What must it have been like in 1946 when you ventured out to catch the latest Robinson and Welles flick? This may not be a current film anymore, but being able to place yourself in those shoes certainly makes for an interesting viewing experience. I have liked all of the films so far this month, but this one comes off as the best, even if the others are close together too.

*** – Very Good

Adam Kuhn

Adam Kuhn was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, where he attended Saint Charles Preparatory School. He studied History at the University of Cincinnati, where he was a contributor of The News Record, the twice-weekly, independent student news organization. He has been writing film reviews and blogging since 2009.

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