The Stranger

G-man Edward G. Robinson has the unholy task of wiping the smile off the face of small-town America in this dark thriller, Welles's contribution to the rural-noir subgenre. “There's nothing to be afraid of in Harper,” says one deluded denizen of this New England village. Like any self-respecting American town, Harper is centered around its eccentric ancients—a tower whose clock runs backwards when it runs at all, and a merchant-savant who cheats at chess. Nothing to be afraid of, but at the same time, everything's just a little bit off. Probably best that newlywed Loretta Young hang those curtains as she begins life with hubby Orson Welles, college professor and escaped Nazi war criminal. Welles tamps down monstrous cynicism with weird charm while the ever-wry Robinson tries to disarm his man. The film introduces the stranger in us all that Nazism exposed; what is at stake in Harper is innocence itself.
—Judy Bloch

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