The Stranger (International-RKO Radio) is a cunning conspiracy to scare the daylights out of you. Adroitly directed by Orson Welles, who also plays the star, it is a grade A gooseflesh-raiser.
Orson, an out & out homicidal heel, is a particularly nasty Nazi. He is dodging the Allied War Crimes Commission by hiding out in a quiet little New England town. In public, he looks, talks and behaves like a pallid prep-school professor. But his extracurricular time is fairly well filled between 1) murdering anybody who knows enough to give him away, 2) honeymooning with nice, unsuspecting Loretta Young and 3) plotting World War III for the greater glory of Germany.
Advance advertising for The Stranger warns audiences not to give away the secret. These ill-advised ads imply that the picture is merely a run-of-the-morgue whodunit. It is a notch above that. There is only a brief question of Orson's black villainy. The movie succeeds because it manages to keep you squirming over a couple of far more chilling questions. Does Loretta know too much for the safety of her own pretty neck? Will G-man Edward G. Robinson get the goods on Orson before all hell breaks loose?
The Stranger's detailsa tight script, murky lighting, feverish camera angles, brooding background musicare deftly synchronized to the prevailing mood of uneasiness. All of the acting is well above par. There is hardly a trace of Little Caesar in Edward G. Robinson's implacable G-man. Loretta Young is just right as the harassed, threatened bride. Oldtime Vaudevillian Billy House earns some much-needed laughs as the village druggist. And Actor Welles, even though Director Welles has used too much film on shots of the petulant Welles scowl, is a convincing menace who richly deserves hissing.
To Each His Own (Paramount) is a double helping of expertly stewed, exquisitely served corn. The film allows its heroine (Olivia de Havilland) to give birth to a bastard, in the hallowed melodramatic tradition of Way Down East. But the fact that Miss de Havilland and the audience are required to suffer & suffer & suffer during the balance of a feature-length lifetime makes it all up to Hollywood for her moment of indiscretion.
Besides the millions of women it is aimed at, this film may interest students of the fantasy-life of U.S. womanhood in its less attractive aspects. It is a tear-jerker that is consistently slick and at moments almost believable.
Two Sisters from Boston (MGM) nearly knocks itself out trying to assimilate the dissimilar talents of Jimmy Durante and Lauritz Melchior. Set in the Gay Nineties, the picture allows its top-notch cast to dress up in quaint period costumes and poke fun at turn-of-the-century manners. The tortuous plot winds the two pretty sisters (June Allyson and Kathryn Grayson) through such varied backgrounds as a stiff-bosomed New England drawing room, a Bowery honkytonk, an imitation Metropolitan Opera Co. stage in full cry. In spite of its singing, dancing, frenzied movement and fancy dress, Two Sisters adds up to not much more than a series of unrelated, tolerably pleasant specialty acts by a troupe of gifted performers.