|Powerhouse combo: Welles and Robinson|
Wilson (Edward G. Robinson), who works for an Allied commission that brings war criminals to justice, is after the notorious Franz Kindler, who is hiding out in the small town of Harper as a teacher named Charles Rankin (Orson Welles). Rankin is just about to get married to judge's daughter Mary Longstreet (Loretta Young), when another Nazi from Kindler's past shows up, leading Wilson to his door. First Wilson must confirm his suspicions (the audience is clued in pretty early) and keep Kindler from removing any other obstacles in his path, including people -- and even his wife. Considering the talent involved and the story line, one would think The Stranger would be a much stronger picture, but it certainly isn't bad. Of the three leads, Robinson comes off best, although Welles is a close second and Young has her moments. The excellent supporting cast includes Martha Wentworth as a housekeeper, and Billy House as a drug store owner. Philip Merivale doesn't seem to summon up the proper concern as Mary's father (the script doesn't help here), and Richard Long is a bit perfunctory as her brother, Noah; Red the Irish Setter, is on top of things, however. One of the best scenes has Wilson interrogating Mary even as he shows her footage (mostly unseen) of concentration camp atrocities. The movie has gaps in logic and Welles seems only sporadically interested in the material; the movie picks up as it goes along and has a fairly exciting climax in a clock tower.
Verdict: Some very good moments but lacks greatness. ***.