Review

  • Warning: Spoilers
    I'm finding that I'm quite at odds with many reviewers concerning "The Stranger." They and I obviously live in different worlds.

    "The Stranger" is one of the clumsiest, most obvious, most absurd movies I have ever seen -- which is made even worse by the fact that Orson Welles not only starred in it but directed it, too. This movie demands that the viewer suspend all disbelief and swallow the supposition that an extremely prominent Nazi war criminal -- who hasn't a trace of a German accent -- can somehow escape Germany, obliterate practically all evidence of his past, and get hired as a Connecticut prep school instructor, mere months after the end of the war.

    There are no surprises in this movie whatsoever; we learn almost at the beginning who the bad guys and the good guys are, and we can see every plot development coming a mile away. You will marvel at the lax investigating and policing procedures, the overwrought scenery chewing of Loretta Young, and the gullibility of many of the characters, not to mention Welles's condescending portrayal of the excessively stereotypical "village folk" who populate the background of this movie.

    In 1946, Bosley Crowther hit the nail on the head in his review in the New York Times: "He is just Mr. Welles, a young actor, doing a boyishly bad acting job in a role which is highly incredible—another weak feature of the film."

    I give this movie a 3 out of 10 because of its entertainment value -- that is, like "Plan Nine From Outer Space," it's so bad, it's fun to watch. The noir cinematography is tricky, although quite extreme and self-conscious, and the film has value as a period piece with lots of local color that makes it a travelogue into the past.

    Otherwise -- hold your noses!