Finally: a movie I’ve not only seen before, but seen several times, most recently on Netflix streaming. It’s made the rounds:
This may surprise some:
Yes, he did finish another movie, and this one, while modest and mostly lacking in the Auteur flourishes that make some critics produce a quart of drool, is one of his more successful films. No one will ever put it up there with Citizen Kane, but Kane didn’t have Nazis.
You can tell they’re Nazis by the way they’re lit:
As we know, much of the look of “Kane” came from Gregg Toland, Welles’ ace cinematographer. But Orson learned fast, and was enough of an all-around middle-level genius to learn what worked. But it's not Kane-quality stuff - the shot above, for example, Sometimes the shots are nice -
But where is he? Wyoming? No, he’s in a small town, trying to find Herr Franz Kindler, Nazi war criminal who’s not only escaped to America, but married the daughter of a Supreme Court Justice. Robinson was wonderful as the smart, dogged investigator who charms everyone but keeps himself in reserve; he was almost the proto-Columbo in his sly, unassuming ways. But as I was saying, Orson had some good shots:
She’s not going to her . . . her doom or anything, is she?
The “wirepicto” was a modern marvel, a means by which whose pictures could go across the country in a flash. It was impressive, and it did change newspapers, but this isn’t the movie to tell its story.
You’ll watch the film for Welles, of course, and for Robinson. The latter is good throughout, and the former only blows it at the end, when he turns into a craven, cowardly Nazi. Hard to believe he was satisfied with his acting. More likely he was happier with this exchange: it’s part of a long dinner scene, where the Nazi attempts to throw Robinson off the scent by delivering an erudite but almost fanatical assessment of the miserable character of the German people. See if you can spot the line that makes Robinson realize he’s the Nazi - and note how Welles delivers the end as he delivered the cuckoo-clock-quip at the end of the Third Man. But that was his style. There wasn’t anyone like Orson.
The reference to "Dying Gaul" might have made sense, if they'd been teaching classical sculpture in the schools, or if the statue really did appear at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, 32 years before.
In any case: meh. Supposedly William Hopper, aka Hamilton Burger, appears somewhere, but I can't find him. You know a print's bad when you can't spot that mug.