Orson Welles the director doesn’t seem to be remembered for much other than "Citizen Kane" these days, at least not in the "mainstream," and that’s a damn shame. Though they’re of varying quality, each of his completed films is a treasure; a work of incomparably precise, poetic filmmaking; a classic. "The Stranger," his third film and his first in a cycle of noir efforts, is directed as confidently as ever, but fails to reach the impressionistic heights of his finest films. Still, this Blu-ray release is a must own for cinephiles everywhere.
Welles’ style is apparent as ever here. He also stars; playing a Nazi war crimes criminal anxious to marry his way to a fake-normality thanks to a willing American bride and an assumed name (a local would-be detective played by the equally-great Edward G. Robinson is his eventual foil.) So stands out as ’special’ about this directorial effort is his perfectly timed performance as the villain; ratcheting up tension as much with his darting eyes and barbed comments as his camera does with its tracks and dissolves.
Kino-Lorber’s release is packed with a number of extra features, leading off with an audio commentary with film historian Bret Wood. Wood expounds over the film with significant expertise, zeroing in on many minute details, subtle visual cues, and other curiosities.
There’s also a short documentary, shot by Billy Wilder in 1945, that works as a sort of instructional video explaining the effects of the Nazi Holocaust to German nationals. Shots of the film are featured in "The Stranger," hence its inclusion.
There is also a trailer for the picture, as well as four WWII-era radio shows - three narratives, one opinion piece - voiced by Orson Welles. The radio shows are particularly fantastic, and the set is much like Welles’ canon - indispensable.