The Stranger

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Details At A Glance

Category Thriller Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1946 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time
94:42 minutes 
Other Extras Biographies - Cast
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Orson Welles

Force Video
Starring Edward G Robinson
Loretta Young
Orson Welles
Philip Merivale
Konstantin Shayne
Richard Long
Byron Keith
Billy House
Martha Wentworth
Isabel O'Madigan
Pietro Sasso
RRP $29.95 Music Bronislaw Kaper

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None Dolby Digital 2.0
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 224 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.37:1
Macrovision ? Smoking Yes
Subtitles None Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    It seems a little ironic that I often compare films to the film that most seem to consider the greatest of all time in Citizen Kane, yet I never recall having seen the film. What has this to do with The Stranger? Well, if it was not for The Stranger, the career of the great Orson Welles might have been fairly short, and the great film may not have been made. This is one of the films that established the career of Orson Welles.

    The Stranger is a story very much rooted in the time it was made. Wilson (Edward G Robinson) is a member of the War Crimes Commission that is searching for the very elusive mastermind of the Nazi extermination camps, Franz Kindler (Orson Welles). It is decided that to track down Kindler, another war criminal Konrad Meinike (Konstantin Shayne) be granted a pardon as long as he seeks out his former comrade. After a global journey, Kindler is tracked down to the small country town of Harper, Connecticut where he is living under the name of Charles Rankin. In order to preserve his freedom, Kindler marries society girl Mary Longstreet (Loretta Young), the daughter of Judge Longstreet (Philip Merivale). No one will suspect him as being a Nazi war criminal with the family he has married into, until his former comrade arrives with Wilson in hot pursuit. As the pincers close in on Kindler, he succumbs to the pressure whilst his wife tries to ignore the evidence against her husband. Eventually the pressure tells on both her and her husband for a climatic scene in the tower of the local church.

    This is a quite well crafted story, which garnered an Academy Award nomination in 1947. But story is one thing, bringing that story to life is another and Orson Welles is quite superb as the nazi war criminal, effectively counter pointed by the dogged war criminal tracker portrayed by the fine Edward G Robinson. The rest of the cast lacks just a little in comparison, but overall this is a fine story well brought to the screen by the talented Orson Welles.

Transfer Quality


    Okay, it is a fifty three year old film here and the usual allowances have to be made.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

    Overall, the general transfer is quite soft and lacks somewhat in the definition stakes. This is compounded further by the inevitable soft focus used when Loretta Young is on screen, making the general focus very soft indeed. Clarity is quite poor at times, although there is quite a degree of variability to the transfer, which is also a quite dark transfer. Shadow detail at times is quite appalling, and the picture seems to be almost totally black at times. Even for a film of this age, this is a little disappointing, although it may of course be a reflection of the way Orson Welles shot the film.

    This is a quite murky black and white transfer which at times lacks a lot of depth to the black and white tones, although it has to be said that some parts of the film do come up very well in comparison to others.

    There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts during the film. Video artefacts were also not especially noticeable during the film. There were however plenty of film artefacts, and they were at times very noticeable and quite distracting. There were however the inevitable patches where the film artefacts were relatively non-existent and the film was certainly easier to watch during these sections.


    There is only one soundtrack on the DVD, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack. The reference to stereo on the packaging is incorrect. There is no background noise to the soundtrack and the transfer is generally consistent throughout.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand throughout.

    There did not appear to be any significant audio sync problems with the transfer.

    The score is provided by Bronislaw Kaper, although it is not an especially memorable score, at times sounding very clichéd.

    The soundtrack is obviously very much front and centre and in its own way is quite acceptable, if a little raw. The distinctive voice of Orson Welles though shines through in a suitably chilling way.


    The standard collection of extras that we have come to expect from the releases from Force Video.


Biographies - Cast

    Actually the usual single biography, and a very short one at that, for Orson Welles.

R4 vs R1

   There does not appear to be any significant difference between the Region 1 and Region 4 releases and there is no reason to prefer one to the other.


    The Stranger is the first appearance of the great Orson Welles on Region 4 DVD, and for that we should be grateful. It would have been nicer though if this was not such a dark transfer, which really does detract from the film somewhat.

    The overall video quality is reasonable for a film of this vintage.

    The overall audio quality is reasonable for a film of this vintage.

    The extras still need a little more effort.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris
27th November 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL