Stranger Than Fiction
, 13 Feb 2012
Orson Welles was a class act back int day. He may have been a bit eccentric, but he could knock out a decent film noir when he wanted to. He may be famed for Citizen Kane, but he did make other noir, including The Stranger, a film he also directed and starred in. Welles plays Professor Charles Rankin an upstanding new member of a small town community, but are there hidden depths to him? He does appear to have forthright opinions on certain political issues. He is to marry local women Mary Longsheet, the daughter of the Town Judge, but then Mr Wilson comes along. Wilson is on the hunt for a man believed to have escaped from Germany during the recent war his path leads to the same small town as Prof Rankin.
The Stranger is basic film noir in that it does not try to do anything particularly new within the genre, but it does it well. The story is not the strongest element; you pretty much know what is going to happen, but this does not matter when you have some great performances at the centre of the film. Welles is excellent as the mysterious Prof Rankin. He is not an out and out ogre, as a lesser actor would play him. Welles gives him some much needed human elements. As the detective foil Edward G Robinson is brilliant in his Colombo style role as the untidy looking detective who actually knows a lot more than he is letting on. As the case draws to an end cracks start to appear in all the characters and the film rises to a nice boil.
Like so many noir films there are one or two elements that let it down. The female characters are underdeveloped and, as mentioned, the plot is a little threadbare. However, strong male leads and decent direction from Welles makes this a better slice of noir pie.
The version I watched was a good clean transfer, but did not have any extras of note.
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