Strangers On A Train - A Trade of Murders

                           Strangers On A Train from 1951 may not be Alfred Hitchcock's most effective and well-known film, but it is surely a good representative of everything that was best about the director. It has all the ingredients of a Hitchcockian suspense movie: the innocent man, the wrong man, the wry humor and the moral ambiguity of good and bad in each of us. Based on Patricia Highsmith's novel, Strangers on a Train, this film noir is about a perfect crime that goes wrong.

        The movie opens with a cross-cut montage of two men's walking shoes and getting nearer to their train berths. Amateur tennis champion Guy Haines (Farley Granger) is on his way from Washington to New York to compete in a tennis match and he is lobbied into a conversation with a weird and talkative stranger, Bruno Antony (Robert Walker). Bruno recognizes the celebrity status of Guy, and seems to know all the details of Guy's personal and public life, especially his plans to divorce his current unfaithful wife and marry his new girlfriend, who happens to be a senator's daughter. 

             Bruno is full of theories and ideas and he proposes an exchange of murders: Bruno will kill guy's wife, Miriam, if Guy will kill his father, whom he despises. Since the murdered people would have no connection of any kind to their killers, the likelihood of them being caught would be slim. A further presentation of the delusion has the spoiled Bruno taking the unasked-for initiative to grant his end of the bargain without ever receiving confirmation or interest from the other party. 

                 Hitchcock's preferred device of an ordinary man caught in an ever-tightening web of fear plunges Guy into one of the director's most devilishly effective movies. Ordinary places become sinister hunting grounds that mirror perfectly the creeping terror that slowly consumes Guy, as the brutal Bruno pursues him. The movie also contains a number of visually brilliant sequences. Miriam's chocking is reflected in the lenses of her glass, which shatter as they fall to the ground, in what is one of the most astounding images in Hitchcock's entire body of work. Another astounding moment happens in the steps of the memorial when, Bruno, is shown in the distance as a menacing figure whose presence announces bad news for all concerned.

                    Bruno is the most commanding character in the film, and Robert Walker's flawless. dazzling performance makes him even more scheming, going beyond the category of smoothly elegant villains in Hitchcock's work. 

                   Exiciting, fast and woven with wicked style, 'Strangers on A Train' is a ruthlessly delicious thriller. Although this movie doesn't approach the genius of Rear Window, Vertigo, or Psycho, it serves as the worthy vehicle, which displayed the Hitchcock's narrative ability and his favorite themes. A Hitchcock enthusiast will have to watch it any case and any mystery-thriller film buff could give it a try.


Strangers On A Train - IMDb


Haricharan Pudipeddi said...

Excellent review of one of my favorite Hitchcock films :)Do u know this film was recently remade in Tamil as Muran starring Cheran and Prasanna?

Anonymous said...

This is one of my favourite movies. And I absolutely love the scene where the murder is filmed through the fallen glasses of the victim.

ராஜ் said...

Nice Review..
Muran was a bad remake.. :)

Raghav said...

Lovely review but I have to disagree that it is not well known. I think it is one of the most appreciated films by Hitchcock and has been over the years remade across different languages and counntries.

Arun Kumar said...

@Haricharan, Thank you. I hear about Muran, but i haven't seen it yet.

@thatandthisinmumbai, Thanks for the comment. The fallen glasses was one of the cinema;s best camera shots. Glad you liked it. Keep visiting the blog.

Arun Kumar said...

@Raj, Thanks for the comment.

@Raghav, Thank you. I shouldn't have used the word 'not well known,' may be under-appreciated would have been right. Keep visiting.

Jayashree Srivatsan said...

God !I saw Muran and thought our folks have started developing interesting plots. It's a copy ? Sad!

ArjunaUbacha said...

Haven't seen this movie. The description seems very interesting. I liked the idea of the glass shattering.

vinay said...

One of my favorite movies by Hitchcock. Good review as always. :)

FolkTalesUrbanLegends said...

Great movie. Especially enjoyed the climax at the carnival.

Arun Kumar said...

@jaish_vats, I don't know whether 'Muran' is a frame to frame copy, the film-makers might say they were inspired by 'Strangers On A Train.' Any way, most of our good and bad movies are either inspired or copied.

Indiawilds, Thanks for the comment, and do watch the movie.

Arun Kumar said...

@Vinay, Thank you. Keep visiting.

@sandeep, Thanks for the comment.