The StrangerKen Eisner
Welles’ late masterpiece Touch of Evil plays in some markets, and Netflix has occasionally aired Citizen Kane, his breakthrough “curse”, as he called it. But here’s a chance to catch up with an overlooked classic from 1946, with the director playing a Nazi war criminal who has ingratiated himself into a cozy New England college town. Loretta Young is his clueless campus wife, and Edward G. Robinson echoes his Double Indemnity role as a sly investigator following the fugitive. Welles wanted to prove he could make a Hitchcock-type thriller, on time and under budget, and he succeeded. But postwar audiences weren’t interested in a movie about insidious threats to liberal democracy. Now they are.
Wilson of the War Crimes Commission is seeking Franz Kindler, mastermind of the Holocaust, who has effectively erased his identity. Wilson releases Kindler's former comrade Meinike and follows him to Harper, Connecticut, where he is killed before he can identify Kindler. Now Wilson's only clue is Kindler's fascination with antique clocks; but, though Kindler seems secure in his new identity, he feels his past closing in.
Adroitly directed by Orson Welles, who also plays the star, it is a grade A gooseflesh-raiser.