This film has been knocked by many people saying that Orson Welles was forced to work within the strict confines of the Hollywood system. I have absolutely no problem with this. Welles is a master craftsman. He made great films, period. In an interview he said that the studio cut out " a couple of reels" that take place in South America at the beginning of the story that he felt was the best part of the movie. As a viewer I feel that the film is compact and taut. Adding more to it would not help(in my opinion). On the contrary, I think adding more might make the film sluggish. As it stands the film remains dark. You feel that evil is present. You are just not sure what is going to happen next.
The performances in this film are for the most part excellent. Edward G. Robinson is amazing. This could have been a cardboard thin good-guy part. Instead he turns the character of Wilson into a smart, cunning hero. He is self-assured not obsessed. He understands what most people in the town don't: Kindler is a monster who is capable of anything. To catch such a man you have to be several steps ahead of him. Also excellent is Konstantin Shayne as Meinike. You can see the fear and madness in his eyes as he repeats "I am travelling for my health, I am travelling for my health..." before going through customs. Make no mistake, this man is "an obscenity that must be destroyed" to quote Wilson. Just look at his scene with the photographer in South America. He is used to people following his orders. Welles is also very good as Kindler/Rankin. There are moments that you actually feel sympathy for him. His obsession with fixing the town clock is very significant. Here is a man who needs things to be precise and structured. He wants total control of his environment(a good example is how he treats his wife). Welles hints at this man's mania but keeps him human. Even though you want him to be caught, you can't help wondering if he'll get away. Loretta Young is unfortunately just average in this film. She has some good moments (especially in the final scene when she confronts Rankin/Kindler)but her hysterics are just too much. The scene where Wilson is showing her the Nazi atrocities is well played. She keeps a certain composure that works well.
Overall, a very well made thriller with top notch performances and solid direction by one of cinema's masters. I give it 8 clock towers out of 10.
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