Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Noir Watch: The Stranger (1946)
Format: TCM on DVR (Noir Alley from months ago)
This is an oddball one to slot in with noir in some ways - but I think it fits. It's just sort of a weird set-up to have your antagonist of the film a Nazi war criminal.
I really don't want to say too much or give too much away - I really didn't know much going into The Stranger (1946), and if you've not yet seen it - try not to learn too much and go give it a shot.
The movie was directed by and co-stars Orson Welles, alongside Edward G. Robinson in that period of his career around Double Indemnity when he wasn't playing the heavy anymore. Age and a certain way about him made him a sort of proto-Columbo, an assuming gentleman with a touch of genius. Loretta Young fills in the remaining top billed spot, playing a part that challenges the sweet, safe girl roles that are usually the lighthouse in the storm for men in these films, the strong willed patrician woman as a paragon of hope and virtue watches as the ground caves beneath her (second Loretta Young film I've seen in a year where she just blew me away - the other being The Accused).
While host Eddie Muller made clear how Welles at least said this was a "work for hire" film for him rather than another Welles original, there's some amazing stuff in this movie, so he wasn't dialing it back in the slightest. He was able to bring in cinematographer Russell Metty, and if for no other reason, it's worth seeing the film just to see Metty at work.
There's a lot at play here, a sort of hyper-realism that bleeds over into Normal Rockwell-esque Americana and yet works in a sort of mythological, allegorical manner, omens and symbols of cosmic clockwork chiming around our characters as events come to bare.
All in all, I was sold. And that this is considered a non-essential Welles film tells you a lot about what the man pulled off in film after film.