The Stranger is now out on a official MGM release which apparently puts all the many public domain versions of the film to shame. I haven't seen it yet, but here is David Kehr's review of the new DVD in The New York Times:
The Stranger, in a radiant new print, gains most in this (film noir) collection. Long and, to me, unaccountably dismissed by Welles scholars for being too “commercial,” it may be Welles’s most explicitly political work, made at a time when his activism was at its height. Robinson is a soft-spoken agent of an international war crimes commission who comes to a small village in Connecticut in search of one of the architects of the Holocaust, the notorious Franz Kindler, and finds him (Welles, of course) teaching at a boys’ school under an assumed name and about to be married to the daughter (Loretta Young) of a Supreme Court justice.
If The Stranger feels like the most conventional of Welles’s films, it may be because it is told in chronological order, without the flashbacks and competing narrators that give his work its cross-stitched density. But his distinctive storytelling technique remains intact, as he passes the point of view from character to character, offering a span of perspectives. He begins with Robinson’s investigator, shifts to the war criminal (made strangely sympathetic, like Norman Bates in Psycho when we see him cleaning up neatly after a murder) and finally adopts the point of view of Ms. Young’s character, an angelic figure (named Mary) who refuses to believe in her husband’s guilt.
Welles did not control the editing (a prologue, showing Kindler in South America, was chopped off) and his depth compositions are relatively restrained. But so is his taste for the bizarre and carnivalesque, making this his most naturalistic film. He seems surprisingly comfortable in this register, though he would never again return to it. (MGM Home Entertainment, $19.98, not rated)
As Kehr astutely notes, Welles did not edit the final film, nor was the film told in his usual flashback style, as Welles intended. To see exactly what we are missing, here are the opening three pages from Welles script, written with John Huston and Anthony Veiler. But what may be even stranger, is how the descriptions in Welles' script seems to foreshadow The Other Side of the Wind, his much later collaboration with John Huston. The wind and moon seem to become characters into themselves in these opening script pages, and what's even more bizarre, is how, taken out of context, the script descriptions might seem to have a distinctly sexual overtone to them, especially in light of the sex scenes Welles included in The Other Side of the Wind.
For example: ...as the girl mounts the stairs... she climbs (climaxes) and then she comes... With her free hand the girl grasps what still stands upright...