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The Stranger

The Stranger(1946)


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The Stranger was the last International Pictures production to be released by RKO. Although Twentieth Century-Fox protested RKO's use of the title The Stranger because of its concurrent release Strangers on the Highway, an MPPA arbitration board found no conflict between the two titles, according to a Hollywood Reporter news item. International borrowed production designer Perry Ferguson from Samuel Goldwyn's company for the film. Hollywood Reporter news items note that filming was done at the Goldwyn Studios and on Universal's back lot. Production news items add Rebel Randall, Lillian Molieri, Johnny Sands, Joseph Granby, Robert Raison, Fred Godoy, Gabriel Peralta, Nancy Evans, Josephine Victor, Ruth Lee, Neal Dodd and Gerald Pierce to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Although the Hollywood Reporter review in May 1946 lists the running time as 85 minutes, this length is probably an error. No information concerning the The Haig Corp., the company listed as the picture's copyright claimant, has been found. Victor Trivas was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Story. Modern sources add the following information about the film's inception and production: Impressed by Welles's work on Citizen Kane, producer Sam Spiegel (whose onscreen credit reads S. P. Eagle), approached the filmmaker with a script written by Anthony Veiller and uncredited contributor John Huston. Welles, who was interested in doing a political story, accepted the part and offered to direct the film as well. Although Spiegel had originally intended Huston to direct, he agreed to hire Welles as director on condition that he not alter the script once production had begun and pay International out of his own pocket if the film went over budget. In addition, because of Welles's reputation for making long, slow films, the script was to be preedited by cutter Ernest Nims. Anxious to improve his standing in Hollywood, Welles accepted Spiegel's stipulations and, although he wanted Mercury Theater star Agnes Moorehead to play the role of "Wilson," agreed to cast Edward G. Robinson in the part. According to a modern interview, Welles "worked" on the script during "general rewriting" with Veiller and Spiegel. Welles claimed in the interview that he wrote "all the stuff in the drugstore as well as the first two or three reels of the picture, which were almost entirely cut." In addition, Welles took credit for inventing Billy House's checker-playing character. As promised, Welles brought the picture in on time and on budget. The Connecticut town constructed by production designer Perry Ferguson, who had worked with Welles on Citizen Kane, was the highest set used in a film since D. W. Griffith's 1916 epic Intolerance. The film's clock was an actual timepiece that had been in the Los Angeles County Courthouse prior to 1922. After Welles had the clock inserted into the set tower, he insisted that scenes showing the clock in motion be shot realistically, without rear projection or other trick photography. During the editing process, Nims cut a prologue showing "Kindler" in Latin America prior to moving to Vermont. According to a modern interview, Welles vehemently protested the cut, which included a scene in which Kindler steps on a baby's coffin. Modern sources add Irving Pichel to the cast.