The other night I saw the 1946 Orson Welles film, The Stranger, about the tracking down of a Nazi war criminal in a small American town. It’s a seriously flawed picture, but one which ought to be seen for the same reason The Magnificent Ambersons, The Lady from Shanghai, and Othello ought to be seen (never mind Touch of Evil)–it was made by Orson Welles.
Whatever their defects, these films remind us of Welles’ concern about the distinction between art and craft in cinema. They show us what style, however flamboyant, in old-time moviemaking really means, and how much Welles cared about the sorrow and gravity of dramatic tragedy. Just like Citizen Kane, of course.