Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Stranger (Kino Classics Blu-ray) - Orson the Nazi Goes to Connecticut

Kino Classics has given us a real treat in their release of Orson Welles’ The Stranger from 1946. Not only is this a brilliant feature film, Oscar nominated, starring Welles and Edward G. Robinson, but it packed with relevant features that turn this release into a piece of historical record both in the fact that it’s an HD master from archival 35mm elements and in the form of additional special content offered to provide relevance to the subject matter discussed in the film. This is a release for people who enjoyed Touch of Evil, The Magnificent Ambersons and a little movie called Citizen Kane, but who may not have ventured outside of Welles’ more popular work. This is a tale of the big bad Nazis or rather what might happen if one of them permeated our nation’s border to become one of us. Hiding in plain sight.

Imagine the perfect post-war society in which the world has become free from the dreaded Nazi death machine. Flowers are in bloom. Life is returning to usual, but something isn’t quite cheery. There’s a wolf in the hen house. A Nazi officer has come up with an alternate identity and infiltrated warm cozy Connecticut in our very own U.S. of A! That’s the intrigue and the terror. Will a government agent played by Edward G. Robinson track down the evil Nazi played by Welles? That’s the rub, and it’s one heck of a story.

The Strange juxtaposes post-war Connecticut with dark film noir elements that provide a detective story, a tale of international intrigue and a dark thriller all into one movie. It’s sort of a True Crime for folks who enjoy international spy novels and films. The movie is complete with lighting to give it the feeling of a Bogart film or otherwise more terrifying tale wrapped up in a detective story with the somewhat hammy Robinson putting pieces of the puzzle together to catch a dangerous man trying to infiltrate wholesome America This is Welles’ perfect vision of the American dream at it’s most dastardly and a criticism of our own naiveté.

The disc is jam packed with slip cover and updated cover art featuring the Library of Congress edition logo. Audio commentary is provided by historian Bret Wood and the disc includes the original theatrical trailer as a well as an image gallery. That’s where the “normal” release stuff ends, and the viewer is treated to a history lesson via extra.  Death Mills is a short from 1945 produced by Billy Wilder and is an informational short about the Death Camps. This is the same footage used in The Stranger, but really fleshes out the experience. Also included are Orson Welles’ wartime broadcasts include Alameda, War Workers, Brazil and Bikini Atomic Test. Now that’s pretty damn cool. It’s a better way to understand the art of Welles and the mystique of both American propaganda during a time where the Nazis seemed to have cornered the market on the “art” of information manipulation.

Notes: 1:33:1 1920 x 1080p.

-Doc Terror

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