I See a Dark Stranger (1946)

Genres - Spy Film, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - War Spy Film  |   Run Time - 98 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

I See a Dark Stranger is remembered as the film that introduced Deborah Kerr to the United States, paving the way for many memorable performances in the years that followed. Kerr is indeed splendid in Stranger, and it's no wonder that she made the critics sit up and take notice, for the film gives her a chance to really strut her stuff and show what she is made of. There are plenty of dramatic scenes, of course, that require her to be fiery or indignant or noble; but there are also scenes that require her to demonstrate her technique at keeping or building suspense, at expressing romance, even at playing comedy. Kerr delivers on all counts. She's well matched by the deft, effortless yet affecting performance of Trevor Howard, who knows exactly how to play his scenes so that he doesn't detract from Kerr yet still makes a very definite impression. The supporting cast is also first rate, and there's some delicious dialogue throughout. If Stranger ultimately is a very good little film rather than an excellent one, it's largely because the screenplay tries too hard to mix too many genres and only partially succeeds; the comedic tone of the final sequence, in particular, is forced and unsatisfactory. Frank Launder's direction is neat and trim, but it isn't sufficiently up to the demands that the screenplay's changes of tone place on it.