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ORSON WELLES AND EDWARD G. ROBINSON IN 'THE STRANGER'

Title: The Stranger Year: 1946 Rating: ****

Orson Welles plays an edgy and intense but, on the surface, affable, intellectual, quote-spouting teacher about to marry the beautiful daughter of a renown judge in a small town epitomizing post-war, postcard America. And he's the perfect man: brilliant, handsome, and determined, with only one drawback — he's a former Nazi; on top of which, he still believes in "the cause" and that it could possibly sustain...

But he keeps this secret from everyone, especially Edward G. Robinson as a dogged, determined yet sophisticated FBI agent posing as an antique collector (which Robinson was in real life), who soon discovers the real identity but needs proof before moving in...

Before and after there's a fair share of unrealistic, melodramatic situations; and scenes bridging the second and third act tend to drag, especially Welles attempting to keep his poor, unstable wife by his ever-crumbling side... 

But the detailed framing and exquisite camerawork, especially Welle's use of shadows and the climax involving a clock tower adorned with sword-wielding angel statures, makes this, if anything else, a visual masterpiece: and one of the few box-office successes in the maverick auteur's artistically brilliant but financially unsuccessful directorial career, and has a nifty side-cast including a young idealistic (brother of the bride) Richard Long; Welles's redeemed hence doomed Nazi sycophant Konstantin Shayne; a goofy albeit likable Billy House housing checkers with town gossip; and Joseph Cotten doppelganger Byron Keith as Welles's best man. 

Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten lookalike Byron Keith in THE STRANGER
Orson Welles in THE STRANGER
Orson Welles's great lighting of Loretta Young in THE STRANGER
Orson Welles in THE STRANGER with Billy House
Richard Long in THE STRANGER
Orson Welles in THE STRANGER with Loretta Young
Konstantin Shayne gets shot in THE STRANGER
Edward G. Robinson in THE STRANGER with Billy House
Edward G. Robinson in THE STRANGER
Orson Welles in THE STRANGER
Orson Welles's THE STRANGER
Edward G. Robinson in THE STRANGER
Orson Welles in THE STRANGER

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