Thursday, November 2, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks #173: A Stranger

This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of "Thursday Movie Picks", the blogathon run by Wandering Through the Shelves. This week's theme is strangers, and as always I've selected three older movies:

The Stranger (1946). Orson Welles plays a newcomer to a small New England town just after World War II. He meets Loretta Young and the two immediately fall in love. But Loretta begins to suspect that her new man is not what he seems, and that he may in fact be a Nazi who fled Germany, which means that he poses quite the danger. Meanwile, like Joseph Cotten in Shadow of a Doubt (who is of course not a stranger), he's been making himself useful in his new home town. The climax is a bit ridiculous, but visually fun.

Phone Call From a Stranger (1952). Gary Merrill plays a man taking an airplane flight with three strangers (Michael Rennie, Shelley Winters, and Keenan Wynn), all of whom have secrets. The plane crashes killing the other three, and Merrill feels he has to approach the surviving relatives of the other three to talk about what they told him. Bette Davis is way down the credits in a thoroughly unglamorous role; her being married to Merrill at the time probably had a lot to do with that.

Bad Day at Black Rock (1955). Spencer Tracy plays the stranger, who comes to a desert town somewhere out west looking for the surviving relatives of a World War II hero. His relatives are no longer there, and it turns out there's a good reason why. The townsfolk, meanwhile, don't want Tracy figuring out that reason. The excellent cast of townsfolk include Robert Ryan, Ernest Borgnine, and Anne Francis.


joel65913 said...

Great picks.

Phone Call from a Stranger is a decent little B with an A cast. There's no doubt Bette Davis did her small bit as a good will gesture for Merrill.

Bad Day at Black Rock is a fantastic fit. One of Tracy's best latter day films and performances and anything with Robert Ryan is worth watching.

We match on The Stranger which I see popping up much more than I expected today which is great. Love to see a classic film be a title of the week, especially a good one like this.

This week was much easier than the horrors of the last few weeks.

The Night Digger (The Road Builder) (1971)-Maura Prince is a lonely woman with some physical disabilities (Patricia Neal-returning to work after suffering a series of strokes which had caused great paralysis which she was still struggling to overcome) lives as a virtual servant to her feeble but domineering mother (Pamela Brown) taking care of her and their large home in the English countryside. Into their lives and strained relationship rolls moody, handsome mysterious biker Billy Jarvis (Nicholas Clay) to cast their lives into upheaval. Maura is at first guarded against Billy’s off kilter charm and her mother contemptuous but as time moves along Maura beings to soften and find herself attracted to him. There’s just one problem Billy’s in the habit of wandering away and disappearing at night which seems to correlate to a series of murders in the surrounding area.

Knife in the Water (1962)-A wealthy couple are headed to go sailing for a few days when they encounter a hitchhiker along the way. Despite some antagonism between the two men the couple invite the young man to accompany them on their trip. There the tension escalates as an attraction builds between the hitcher and the wife as well as resentment between the two men. When an altercation leads to a mystery things take a dark turn. Roman Polanski’s breakthrough picture, nominated for Best Foreign Film, is a tense three person drama.

The Stranger (1946)-Professor Charles Rankin (Orson Welles) has a dark secret, he is in actuality escaped war criminal Franz Kindler one of Hitler’s architects of the final solution. One day his former assistant Meinike appears in town and beseeches him to confess his sins, fearing exposure Rankin kills him and buries him in the woods on the edge of town. Shortly afterwards a stranger arrives, Mr. Wilson (Edward G. Robinson) an agent for the War Crimes Commission who had been tracking Meinike in hopes he would lead him to Kindler. Suspecting Rankin almost immediately because he shares Kindler’s fascination with clocks Wilson tries to enlist and warn Rankin’s wife Mary (Loretta Young) to the truth. Initially doubtful she grow wary when Wilson mentions Meinike since she knows he had visited her husband. Under increasing pressure Rankin decides to eliminate all obstacles to his freedom leading to a taut showdown. Welles directed as well as stars in this noir set in small town America.

Brittani Burnham said...

The Stranger is popular today. I think I'll have to watch it, it sounds interesting.

Ted S. (Just a Cineast) said...

I'm not a fan of Orson Welles, but The Stranger is a good movie.