The Lady From Shanghai

The purpose of this Unit is to study Welles’ THE STRANGER (1946) and place it within the larger body of his films. In many ways the most conventional of his films, THE STRANGER nevertheless contains classic elements of Welles’ film style. In this unit students will discuss both the conventional and the less predictable elements of the film. Students will also discuss the effect that World War II and its aftermath had on the political content of Welles’ work. Naremore asserts that while there are good examples of satirical touches in THE STRANGER there are also “elements of disharmony.” Identify and discuss examples of both in the film. Naremore also states that “[t]he film has a superficially Hitchcockian sense of the absurd, and many of Welles’ best moments derive from his ironic treatment of Americana, as if Norman Rockwell were being retouched by Charles Addams” (124). Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not? It is also important, due to both the Nazi war criminal theme in the film as well as the actual end of the Second World War, to address the changes in Welles’ political beliefs as they manifest themselves in this film. Although on the surface THE STRANGER’s theme appears to be political, much of it dramatic tension is due to psycho-sexual undercurrent present in the film. An example of this is the relationship between Mary Longstreet (Loretta Young) and Franz Kindler (Welles). Discuss what Kindler represents to Mary in the psychosexual realm. Also explore her character and discuss why she agrees at first to help and why she then changes her mind. Be sure to include a discussion of the psychological aspects of her decisions.

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