Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for Orson Welles’ The Stranger.
The Stranger, starring Orson Welles, Loretta Young, Edward G. Robinson, directed by Orson Welles, RKO Pictures, 1946
The was a plethora of films made in the 1940s and 1950s, mainly suspense thrillers, on the subject of Nazis who may have escaped the Allied dragnet at the end of World War II (not including those Nazis whom those self-same Allies “turned” as the red scare cold war night descended on the world) and who, by hook or by crook found safe haven outside of Europe. Waiting, waiting patiently or impatiently, or feverishly plotting as the case may be, for the return of the glory days. The film under review, the Orson Welles-directed The Stranger falls under that former category.
Here Welles himself, as Professor Rankin, is disguised as a small town America college professor with a distinct predilection for clock towers and is one closet Nazi waiting patiently for those big days ahead. Except that his world turned unexpectedly nasty when one doggedly persistent anti-Nazi hunter played by Edward G. Robinson (last seen in this space as Johnny Rico slapping girls and old geezers around in front of Humphrey Bogart, a definite no-no, in Key Largo) is ready to move might and main to hunt him down.
For a future fuerher though the good professor is something of a bumbler and easy prey for any half-bright professional anti-Nazi hunter. The minute he received news from back home via an unstable intermediary he precedes to murder said messenger setting off a series of events that only drag him down ever more quickly. And not just him but almost his trusting new wife (played by Loretta Young) who takes an extraordinary long time to see that the good professor is a wrong gee, a dead wrong gee. But the good professor will get his just desserts in the end, no question. And no self-respecting anti-Nazi will cry a tear over his fate.