Combustible Celluloid
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With: Edgar G. Robinson, Orson Welles, Loretta Young, Philip Merivale, Richard Long, Konstantin Shayne, Byron Keith, Billy House, Martha Wentworth
Written by: Victor Trivas, Decla Dunning, Anthony Veiller, Orson Welles (uncredited), John Huston (uncredited)
Directed by: Orson Welles
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 95
Date: 05/25/1946

The Stranger (1946)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Hiding in Plain Sight

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

After making the financial flops Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons and losing his RKO contract, Orson Welles made The Stranger (1946) as a last-ditch attempt to prove that he could deliver a profitable Hollywood film as well as anyone. So this thriller starring Edward G. Robinson as a post-WWII Nazi hunter and Welles as a Nazi spy hiding out in an American small town comes across as strangely... normal.

Unfortunately, it still didn't make any money, as if the public could sense that Welles was pandering to them. Yet, it remains an interesting film, full of bizarre shots and fascinating little moments, like the general store guy who plays checkers all the time. (Producer "S.P. Eagle" is actually the legendary Sam Spiegel.)

In 2007, MGM finally released the definitive DVD edition of this Welles film that has spent years in the public domain and on cheap-o DVDs. Too bad MGM couldn't have sprung for any extras, but at least it's nice to see the film in pristine condition.

In 2011, HD Cinema Classics released a Blu-Ray edition of this film, plus a second, bonus DVD disc, but unfortunately, it's a public domain issue and has nothing to do with the official MGM release; in fact, the DVD looks arguably better than this Blu-Ray, which is soft and even waxy (to quote an adjective from Gary Tooze at

In 2013, Kino Lorber released an official Blu-ray, "mastered from archival 35mm elements provided by the Library of Congress." It is much improved. Bret Wood provides an expert commentary track, and the disc includes trailers, an image gallery, a short film on the Nazi death camps (some footage of which appears in the feature), and four Orson Welles radio shows.

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