|THE STRANGER (1946)|
Edward G. Robinson
|"Murder can be a chain, Mary, one link leading to another until it circles your neck."|
|Time: 95 mins.|
Rating: Not Rated
Academy Award nomination for Best Original Story.
SYNOPSIS: An investigator from the War Crimes Commission travels to Connecticut to find an infamous Nazi, who finds himself committing new crimes to keep his ugly past hidden from his new wife.
BOTTOM LINE: This rather obvious cat-and-mouse thriller gets a serious upgrade by having Welles both in front of and behind the camera. His distinctive visual style adds great tension and intensity to the story that builds the drama frame by frame. What starts as a happy story with a young professor and his blushing bride getting married quickly turns deadly as his past catches up with him. Too arrogant and smart for his own good, Professor Rankin believes he can make his new identity stick, especially since he's garnered the love of Mary, an intelligent and kind-hearted woman. The detective on his trail quietly builds his case against Rankin, but he needs Mary's testimony to prove he's right. Her horror at being duped into loving such a loathsome man leads her down a path of self-deception that places her life in grave danger. Despite the high emotion, Young treads carefully keeping Mary from being just another hysterical wife desperate not to believe the truth. One can hardly blame her for wanting the love she found to be true, which makes her change of heart all the more chilling. For his part, Welles fails to restrain himself when it comes to overacting, but perhaps that's what makes his villains so memorable. Robinson gives a wonderful turn as the clever detective determined to get his man. His quiet wit, gumption and intelligence are the perfect counterpoint to Welles' ferocious energy and fiendish schemes. Even with an obvious ending, this is a classic nailbiter that delivers the goods.