Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Stranger

Orson Welles directed what is universally considered the best film of all times, but had a curious career after that. I mean, what do you do after your directing debut is Citizen Kane? Though he never matched his initial success, his subsequent films (at least the ones I’ve seen) are engaging due to his directorial prowess (You could argue that he played a hand in the directing of The Third Man, another best of all time candidate). With The Stranger, Welles takes a standard story and enhances its with his direction. His presence as an actor along with the great character actor Edward G. Robinson doesn’t hurt either. Robinson plays an agent for the war crimes board who is after the elusive Nazi War criminal Franz Kindler (Welles) who has destroyed all known evidence of his past. To get to Kindler, Robinson decides to release his closest associate from prison in the hopes he will lead him to Kindler. Where he takes Robinson is to a small town in Connecticut where he loses his lead and has to build a case against Kindler, a now respected professor about to marry into a well-to-do family. Like I said, direction is key to enhancing any film and that is the case here. Though some elements of the script are standard, they are given a boost, and I also especially liked the ending, one of those strangely concocted ones which could have only been developed by Welles.