Thursday, November 02, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: Strangers

For the first week of November 2017 as part of the Thursday Movie Picks series hosted by Wanderer of Wandering Through the Shelves. We go into the subject of strangers as it relates to those who arrive unexpectedly not knowing why that person is here. Here are my three picks:

1. The Stranger

From Orson Welles is a film that revolves around a former Nazi trying to rid of his former life by becoming a schoolteacher in a small town as he’s being pursued by a government agent. Welles would play the lead role as it revolves around elements of paranoia and identity as the film does feature a great supporting turn from Edward G. Robinson as this government official asking questions about Welles’ past life. The film features a lot of the visual traits that Welles is known for in his filmmaking career in its approach to intricate framing devices as well as putting more bite to a story that could’ve been an ordinary noir film.

2. Strangers on a Train

From Alfred Hitchcock comes this adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel about a tennis player who meets a mysterious man and makes a deal with this man to kill his wife and the tennis player would kill someone for that man in return. It’s a film that explore the idea of guilt as well as what happens when the idea of a deal is made and that man had to return the favor. It’s among one of Hitchcock’s most inventive films as it play into all sorts of intrigue and visual set pieces including the scene of the tennis player’s wife being killed nearby a fair.

3. The Passenger

From Michelangelo Antonioni comes a film that wasn’t initially well-received when it first came out in 1975 but it would later stand as one of his finest films as it starred Jack Nicholson as a journalist who takes on the identity of a dead man unaware of what that man is known for. Shot on various locations in North Africa and in Spain, the film plays into the world of a man running away from himself as he’s joined by Maria Schneider on this trip of identity and loneliness. It’s a film that has gotten more intriguing right up to the film’s penultimate shot that goes on for seven minutes in this amazing long-take tracking shot that shows Antonioni being a master of space and time.

© thevoid99 2017


joel65913 said...

I wasn't overly impressed by The Passenger, it was okay but once was plenty for me but I LOVE Strangers on a Train. Absolutely one of Hitchcock's best with a brilliant performance from Robert Walker. Everybody else is good, and both Patricia Hitchcock and Marion Lorne are standouts, but Walker is the person who makes the film work and who you remember once its over.

We match on The Stranger! Both Welles and EGR are so magnetic and ratchet up the tension making it as you said much more than the standard thriller it could have been.

So glad the horror cycle is over easier for me to find choices when that's not a factor so other than our match I found one interesting obscurity and the first work of someone who went on to make many fantastic films.

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.

Birgit said...

We matchwith The Stranger! This is a great little gem that I wish would get more love than it does and so agree with what you wrote about the filming style. Love, love, love Strangers and would have picked it but I picked it a few times before. Love that image you chose and glad he popped the balloon. I’d love to see The Passenger which sounds like a 70s art house scene but with a bigger budget...and Jack.

Brittani Burnham said...

I haven't seen any of these but The Stranger is on my list now after so many people chose it.

thevoid99 said...

@joel65913-Knife in the Water is an awesome film as I really liked it a lot as I think it fits the descript perfect.y.

@Birgit-I'm glad someone else loves The Stranger. The Passenger is an art house movie but it had a similar budget like most of those films because it's Antonioni and Jack Nicholson did the film because he was a fan of Antonioni and he's the reason the film got a re-release more than a decade ago.

@Brittani-See it. It's one of Orson Welles' finest films.