The Stranger, according to Orson Welles, 'is the worst of my films. There is nothing of me in that picture'. But even on autopilot Welles still leaves most filmmakers standing. A war crimes investigator, played by Edward G Robinson, tracks down a senior Nazi to a sleepy New England town where he's living in concealment as a respected college professor. Welles wanted Agnes Moorehead as the investigator and Robinson as the Nazi Franz Kindler, but his producer, Sam Spiegel, wouldn't wear it. So Welles himself plays the supposedly cautious and self-effacing fugitive--and if there was one thing Welles could never play, it was unobtrusive. Still, the film's far from a write-off. Welles' eye for stunning visuals rarely deserted him and, aided by Russell Metty's skewed, shadowy photography, The Stranger builds to a doomy grand guignol climax in a clocktower that Hitchcock must surely have recalled when he made Vertigo. And Robinson, dogged in pursuit, is as quietly excellent as ever.
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