TopBilled

Subtext in THE STRANGER (1946)

144 posts in this topic

Well, if they're not seeing the subtext the most are seeing, then their view isn't worthwhile.

 

You must know that by now, james! :D

 

Hey,  maybe I'm being too sensitive,  but what I see implied in many of these post is along the lines of;

 

There are NO subtexts in this film and if you see any,  something is wrong with you.

 

Somehow that doesn't sound respectful to me.   ;)

 

Note that I said from the start I didn't see any subtext in this film (I had seen it twice before), and I still didn't see any when I saw it again this week.    But that doesn't mean that these things don't exist for others with different backgrounds and experiences. 

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I posted this earlier in the live thread:

 

*****

 

images-122.jpg

In the next scene, Rankin/Kindler meets and embraces Meineke. This is where people find gay subtext going on-- they men go for a walk through the woods. It is said that Mary, the bride to be, is the daughter of a local judge-- a liberal. The men discuss the inevitability of another war. The men are touching again. Nearly embracing. Now Meineke has his hands on the front of the professor's suit. Rankin/Kindler knows that men must be following Meineke. 

 

Meineke wants Kindler to confess his sins and turn to God. Together, they will pray for strength. While Meineke begins a prayer, Kindler watches to see if anyone else is around. His hands are on the Nazi's collar, then he pushes the man down-- strangling him. Strange music on the soundtrack as the men fall into bushes together. Kindler soon dragging the body away, covering him with dirt. The boys from school are still running nearby, as this plays out.

 

screen-shot-2015-05-22-at-6-30-59-pm.png

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THE STRANGER is re-airing on June 26th for those who may have missed it last night.

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THE STRANGER is re-airing on June 26th for those who may have missed it last night.

Gives me the willies.

 

Can't rewatch it.

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Gives me the willies.

 

Can't rewatch it.

I believe it is re-airing as part of the Summer of Darkness series.

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Then it certainly fits!

It has also been airing this month on Retroplex. I came across it while channel surfing a day or two ago. But unfortunately Retroplex is broadcasting a public domain copy and it is badly washed out, with inferior audio. At least TCM has been showing a restored version.

 

Because Welles was often highly experimental with regards to visuals and sound design, I would suggest not watching THE STRANGER on Retroplex. Instead one should wait till it re-airs on TCM to get the full intended effect.

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It has also been airing this month on Retroplex. I came across it while channel surfing a day or two ago. But unfortunately Retroplex is broadcasting a public domain copy and it is badly washed out, with inferior audio. At least TCM has been showing a restored version.

 

Because Welles was often highly experimental with regards to visuals and sound design, I would suggest not watching THE STRANGER on Retroplex. Instead one should wait till it re-airs on TCM to get the full intended effect.

why, then, bring up the inferior copy another channel (that others don't receive any way) might air on a board at TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES?

(just wondering) :wacko:

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why, then, bring up the inferior copy another channel (that others don't receive any way) might air on a board at TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES?

(just wondering) :wacko:

Bringing it up in case folks happened to see it like I did while channel surfing. I would hate for others to have a low opinion of THE STRANGER if they were judging it by a public domain version. 

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I do agree that there is a gay subtext here. I disagree that Welles and co. saw the homosexuality of Kindler as a positive thing. In most of the 40s through early 60s films with such a subtext--Ben Hur (Messala), The Big Clock (the bisexual characters Earl Janoth (note the similarity of Kindler's fascination with clocks, with that of Janoth's!), and  Pauline York,though the latter is far more sympathetic--because maternal--than the former; as well as the masseur, Bill Womack), Strangers on a Train (Bruno Antony), Spartacus (the bisexual Marcus Crassus) and this film (Kindler)--the intent seems to be of a critical rather than gay-liberatory nature: to ascribe to the gay character(s) a fascist or corporate capitalist or ancient Roman merciless, cruel, narcissistic, inhumane power-lust. It was known at the time, from such books as Stephen Ingra's GERMANY'S NATIONAL VICE and other news sources that many of the Nazis were pederasts. And this was a powerful, if not the only, source for their immorality. And Welles made himself a dedicated enemy of, and an expert on Nazism, which is reflected in the films he both made, and starred in, at this time.

The scene with Meineke and Kindler in the woods, with the young boys running about, hints at such pederasty they may have practiced as Nazis in Germany. Since Meineke has become a Christian "religious fanatic,"--and thus like the Jews, has become an enemy of pederasty and Kindler's militarism--as well as a witness to Kindler's crimes, he has become disposable. 

The fact that in class, Professor Kindler obviously idoloizes "Friedrich der Grosse--that's Frederick the Great to you," is another hint, not only that he is secretly a German, but also, a--butch--Nazi. Frederick was cruel, militarist, homosexual, male supremacist, a pederast, and, like Kindler's marriage, his was a fake.

This theory also explains something that puzzled me about the movie, that I until now attributed to just bad screenwriting. Why does Kindler appear so angry with his wife that she has inadvertently caused the death of his young brother-in-law, Noah: yet obviously has no such scruples about the fact that the broken ladder was meant to kill her? Perhaps because he felt a pedarastic affection--or rather, intention--for Noah, while feeling nothing of the kind for his faux wife (since she is an "inferior" female)? There is also an implication here that Noah and the other boys at the college are in danger of becoming corrupted by this Nazi pederast, to become the future legions of a new, crypto-Hitler Youth/WanderVoegel. And perhaps Kindler sees Noah's death as a tragedy because his familial relationship with Noah made him first to be corrupted, so that he could become the agent of this broader transformation/corruption of the other boys at the college?

I want to thank TopBilling for bringing what was under the surface of my own awareness of this film, to the surface. But I think we should adopt a far less "gay positive" view of the sinister implications Welles and co. made here with this "gay-subtext." It's not much at all about telling straights what life is like as a closeted homosexual, as he supposes. Like all such "politically correct" historical text analyses, such an interpretation is woefully anachronistic, and is insensitive to the real concerns of the filmmakers themselves.

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It's very likely that Meineke and Kindler were homosexual lovers in Germany. Maybe they were even

involved in a threesome with Ernst Rohm, though that is just speculation. The scene where Kindler

kills Meineke--I believe the body is covered with dirt not just to hide it but also to disguise the fact

that Kindler had just bumrushed Meineke and so some of Meineke's excrement is still around. And it's

also possible that Meineke, a possible practitioner of auto-erotic play, does not realized he is being

strangled for a different reason. The color of dirt/excrement is also an ironic comment on the anti-Nazi

group White Rose. The two Nazis don't want anything to do with that color. It's also obvious that

Noah is gay or at least bisexual. He is really a non-Noah, not bringing two things together but trying

to separate the two sexual attractions he feels so he can better regulate his desires. The happy go

lucky store proprietor uses his blindfold in order to symbolically hide his own homosexuality. He puts

it on in moments of mental concentration to shield his physical concentration on male bodies. Kindler

has not totally given up on his religion. He sees the ladder in the church as a Jacob's ladder leading

to the superior, in his belief, way of homosexuality. A heterosexual woman like his wife can not be

allowed to ascend the ladder to this higher form of life, so Kindler saws it in order to prevent her

from climbing it. Then there is the hidden in plain sight fact that a combination of the two Nazi's

names equals my child which represents both Meineke's age in relation to Kindler's and the possibility

that both may enjoy having intimate relations with children.

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16 hours ago, Thomas58 said:

I do agree that there is a gay subtext here. I disagree that Welles and co. saw the homosexuality of Kindler as a positive thing. In most of the 40s through early 60s films with such a subtext--Ben Hur (Messala), The Big Clock (the bisexual characters Earl Janoth (note the similarity of Kindler's fascination with clocks, with that of Janoth's!), and  Pauline York,though the latter is far more sympathetic--because maternal--than the former; as well as the masseur, Bill Womack), Strangers on a Train (Bruno Antony), Spartacus (the bisexual Marcus Crassus) and this film (Kindler)--the intent seems to be of a critical rather than gay-liberatory nature: to ascribe to the gay character(s) a fascist or corporate capitalist or ancient Roman merciless, cruel, narcissistic, inhumane power-lust. It was known at the time, from such books as Stephen Ingra's GERMANY'S NATIONAL VICE and other news sources that many of the Nazis were pederasts. And this was a powerful, if not the only, source for their immorality. And Welles made himself a dedicated enemy of, and an expert on Nazism, which is reflected in the films he both made, and starred in, at this time.

The scene with Meineke and Kindler in the woods, with the young boys running about, hints at such pederasty they may have practiced as Nazis in Germany. Since Meineke has become a Christian "religious fanatic,"--and thus like the Jews, has become an enemy of pederasty and Kindler's militarism--as well as a witness to Kindler's crimes, he has become disposable. 

The fact that in class, Professor Kindler obviously idoloizes "Friedrich der Grosse--that's Frederick the Great to you," is another hint, not only that he is secretly a German, but also, a--butch--Nazi. Frederick was cruel, militarist, homosexual, male supremacist, a pederast, and, like Kindler's marriage, his was a fake.

This theory also explains something that puzzled me about the movie, that I until now attributed to just bad screenwriting. Why does Kindler appear so angry with his wife that she has inadvertently caused the death of his young brother-in-law, Noah: yet obviously has no such scruples about the fact that the broken ladder was meant to kill her? Perhaps because he felt a pedarastic affection--or rather, intention--for Noah, while feeling nothing of the kind for his faux wife (since she is an "inferior" female)? There is also an implication here that Noah and the other boys at the college are in danger of becoming corrupted by this Nazi pederast, to become the future legions of a new, crypto-Hitler Youth/WanderVoegel. And perhaps Kindler sees Noah's death as a tragedy because his familial relationship with Noah made him first to be corrupted, so that he could become the agent of this broader transformation/corruption of the other boys at the college?

I want to thank TopBilling for bringing what was under the surface of my own awareness of this film, to the surface. But I think we should adopt a far less "gay positive" view of the sinister implications Welles and co. made here with this "gay-subtext." It's not much at all about telling straights what life is like as a closeted homosexual, as he supposes. Like all such "politically correct" historical text analyses, such an interpretation is woefully anachronistic, and is insensitive to the real concerns of the filmmakers themselves.

Thanks Thomas. I think it's a very dense film, like most of Welles' films...since it has multiple layers open to interpretation. However, in this case, THE STRANGER seems to be more audience friendly, more like a typical Hollywood suspense drama. Having Edward G. Robinson in the main role helps tremendously, and casting Loretta Young as the wife gives it added commercial value.

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7 hours ago, TopBilled said:

Thanks Thomas. I think it's a very dense film, like most of Welles' films...since it has multiple layers open to interpretation. However, in this case, THE STRANGER seems to be more audience friendly, more like a typical Hollywood suspense drama. Having Edward G. Robinson in the main role helps tremendously, and casting Loretta Young as the wife gives it added commercial value.

I'd only first seen the movie a few months ago, and I put it in more of the historical context, that it was 1946, postwar US was putting the war behind it, and even mentioning what was going on at Nuremberg was just not allowable conversation in prime-time.  When Robinson mentions the German camps, they had only recently been shown at newsreel theaters--it was the first time pictures had been shown in a narrative film--and was still a shocking topic.  The insertion into the story, and depicting Welles as a war criminal, feels more like those late-80's/early-90's "Torn from today's headlines" thrillers that put an innocent suburban woman in jeopardy when she finds out her husband is secretly (pick one: K-K-K/Iranian/militia-member/inside-trader), and that's certainly Loretta's role in the story.

Take the war out, and The Stranger is pretty much your standard shadow-of-a-doubt story, but as bad-boy provocateur Welles knew, mention Nazism and the romantic unrepentance of the party when nobody else would talk about it, and...GASP!! 😱 The idea that ex-Nazi fifth-columnists would be out there still trying to sell their dreams of glorious Siegfried to a new generation of impressionable football-Aryan college students was an unspoken boogeyman to the postwar public, years before Communism would be--Certainly, it's hard to depict ex-Nazis without suggesting there was "something there" in their romanticized fondness for sword-dueling at the boys-schools of old Vienna, as that sort of came with the party, but Welles knew whose sore-spot he was setting out to poke.  Much like his Mercury Theater putting Julius Caesar in Weimar was also leftwing-poking at 30's isolationist prewar see-no-evil...Oo, if Orson doo'd it, he'd get a whippin'!  😉

For a second, I'd thought the "subtext", and the '14 date of the original post, was from our former friends on the Filmstruck blog, who thought they had the Internet sandbox all to themselves to find the Subtext™️ in just about EVERY classic film ever made.  (And then kicking off, quote, "hateful" board members who dared say there wasn't any such nonsense there.)  There seems to be a need for the community to dig up every closeted writer in 30's-50's Hollywood, buddy up to any classic work they produced and click selfies next to it, to play up some historically "persecuted" image to try and look like they hadn't just started marketing themselves into pop-culture since the 80's.  But too often, it comes off like some horse-blindered hobby nut who completely misses the script/directorial intent, and just insists on talking about the classic cars that were in the movie, in the hopes he can have a conversation about that.

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2 hours ago, Vautrin said:

It's very likely that Meineke and Kindler were homosexual lovers in Germany. Maybe they were even

involved in a threesome with Ernst Rohm, though that is just speculation. The scene where Kindler

kills Meineke--I believe the body is covered with dirt not just to hide it but also to disguise the fact

that Kindler had just bumrushed Meineke and so some of Meineke's excrement is still around. And it's

also possible that Meineke, a possible practitioner of auto-erotic play, does not realized he is being

strangled for a different reason. The color of dirt/excrement is also an ironic comment on the anti-Nazi

group White Rose. The two Nazis don't want anything to do with that color. It's also obvious that

Noah is gay or at least bisexual. He is really a non-Noah, not bringing two things together but trying

to separate the two sexual attractions he feels so he can better regulate his desires. The happy go

lucky store proprietor uses his blindfold in order to symbolically hide his own homosexuality. He puts

it on in moments of mental concentration to shield his physical concentration on male bodies. Kindler

has not totally given up on his religion. He sees the ladder in the church as a Jacob's ladder leading

to the superior, in his belief, way of homosexuality. A heterosexual woman like his wife can not be

allowed to ascend the ladder to this higher form of life, so Kindler saws it in order to prevent her

from climbing it. Then there is the hidden in plain sight fact that a combination of the two Nazi's

names equals my child which represents both Meineke's age in relation to Kindler's and the possibility

that both may enjoy having intimate relations with children.

Your best post yet. :lol: They should really leave the homosex Fascism to Yukio Mishima. :rolleyes: 

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5 hours ago, Gershwin fan said:

Your best post yet. :lol: They should really leave the homosex Fascism to Yukio Mishima. :rolleyes: 

Sometimes the subtexts just seem to come right out of the TV. And it's no coincidence that

Mishima offed himself with a sword.

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On 9/20/2019 at 2:31 PM, EricJ said:

I'd only first seen the movie a few months ago, and I put it in more of the historical context, that it was 1946, postwar US was putting the war behind it, and even mentioning what was going on at Nuremberg was just not allowable conversation in prime-time.  When Robinson mentions the German camps, they had only recently been shown at newsreel theaters--it was the first time pictures had been shown in a narrative film--and was still a shocking topic.  The insertion into the story, and depicting Welles as a war criminal, feels more like those late-80's/early-90's "Torn from today's headlines" thrillers that put an innocent suburban woman in jeopardy when she finds out her husband is secretly (pick one: K-K-K/Iranian/militia-member/inside-trader), and that's certainly Loretta's role in the story.

Take the war out, and The Stranger is pretty much your standard shadow-of-a-doubt story, but as bad-boy provocateur Welles knew, mention Nazism and the romantic unrepentance of the party when nobody else would talk about it, and...GASP!! 😱 The idea that ex-Nazi fifth-columnists would be out there still trying to sell their dreams of glorious Siegfried to a new generation of impressionable football-Aryan college students was an unspoken boogeyman to the postwar public, years before Communism would be--Certainly, it's hard to depict ex-Nazis without suggesting there was "something there" in their romanticized fondness for sword-dueling at the boys-schools of old Vienna, as that sort of came with the party, but Welles knew whose sore-spot he was setting out to poke.  Much like his Mercury Theater putting Julius Caesar in Weimar was also leftwing-poking at 30's isolationist prewar see-no-evil...Oo, if Orson doo'd it, he'd get a whippin'!  😉

For a second, I'd thought the "subtext", and the '14 date of the original post, was from our former friends on the Filmstruck blog, who thought they had the Internet sandbox all to themselves to find the Subtext™️ in just about EVERY classic film ever made.  (And then kicking off, quote, "hateful" board members who dared say there wasn't any such nonsense there.)  There seems to be a need for the community to dig up every closeted writer in 30's-50's Hollywood, buddy up to any classic work they produced and click selfies next to it, to play up some historically "persecuted" image to try and look like they hadn't just started marketing themselves into pop-culture since the 80's.  But too often, it comes off like some horse-blindered hobby nut who completely misses the script/directorial intent, and just insists on talking about the classic cars that were in the movie, in the hopes he can have a conversation about that.

Yeah, it's hard to believe this thread was created five years ago. TCM does not show THE STRANGER a lot. But it's in the public domain so it's very easy to find online.

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