In the late 1930s, RKO Radio Pictures offered Orson Welles, still an untried movie director, a very hefty two-picture deal. And he didn't disappoint, at least not artistically. His first movie out of the gate, Citizen Kane (1941), fared neither well nor poorly at the box office. But today you will find it topping nearly every list of the greatest films ever made.

And, what's more, many now consider Welles the greatest director to ever make films. Given this legacy, we have to mention that Welles' third released film, The Stranger, a 1946 film noir thriller, has slipped into the public domain. A commercial success upon release, the movie features Edward G. Robinson hunting a Nazi fugitive (Welles himself) who marries the daughter (Loretta Young) of a Supreme Court justice. The Stranger (which SenseofCinema breaks down rather nicely) appears above, or you can find an alternative version in our collection of Free Movies Online.

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  • Kevin Klawitter says:

    It’s ironic that “The Stranger” was the last Welles-directed film to get an Oscar nomination, and the nomination was for Original Screenplay. I have a feeling the Academy did that only to spite Welles (whose only contribution on that front was uncredited rewrites).

    It’s a good movie, but easily a lesser Welles work.

  • Mary Waterton says:

    Professor Charles Rankin (Orson Welles) about 13 minutes into the film:

    “Guess what I’ll be doing at 6’oclock tonight? Standing before of a minister of the Gospel with a woman’s hand in mine, the daughter of a justice of the United States Supreme Court … a famous liberal … the girl is even good to look at.”

    A liberal marrying a Nazi. I find that incredibly humorous. I wonder if Orson Welles was making a political statement?

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