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Saturday, September 8, 2018

"The Stranger" (1946)

Director Orson Welles would dismiss this thriller-noir as his least favorite of his pictures. Probably because there's little nuance here, in character, theme, or plot; it's a straightforward post-WII suspenser about a kindly college professor (Welles himself) who's actually a vicious Nazi war criminal hiding out in a Norman Rockwell small town. But accessible does not mean bad, and entertaining doesn't mean ignore it. The tight script works to it's advantage as a dogged investigator from the War Crimes Commission (Edward G. Robinson), get's closer and closer to revealing Welles identity secret. He's sort of a precursor to TV's "Coumbo", annoying Welles with incessant questions and snooping. Loretta Young is on hand as the unwitting fiance of the villain, she's not that bright but you need someone sympathetic in grave peril by the finale to kick up the nail-biting. There's a lot of debt owed to Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt"here, another tale of a creep taking cover in Nice Anytown, USA, but that's quite okay. It brings to mind that quote from Picasso, "Good artists copy. Great artists steal."

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