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The Classic Movie of the Day: Strangers On a Train

May 9, 2014

Strangers On a Train is one of my top three favorite Hitchcock movies. I will eventually share my top two, but for now I will tell you how great this movie is. Two strangers meet on a train. One is famous and therefore recognized by the other. Farley Granger plays Guy Haines, famous tennis pro. Robert Walker plays Bruno Antony, an overly friendly, very nosy, and extremely entertaining psycho.

Bruno, knowing of Guy’s romance with a U.S. senator’s daughter from the tabloids, and also knowing of Guy’s long pending divorce from his trampy wife, proposes that they swap murders. It is Bruno’s idea that if he kills Guy’s wife, Guy could kill his overbearing father in exchange. Since they have no ties to each other, who would suspect? “They swap murders. Criss-cross.” Guy takes the whole idea as a joke and laughingly agrees to the bargain, thinking he will never see this nut again. Bruno, though appearing to be joking, is not joking.

The screenplay was co-written by pulp mystery writer Raymond Chandler, based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith. Hitchcock lets loose the string from his bag of tricks with this one. He lets Robert Walker ham it up as Bruno and the viewer is certain to laugh at him, even though they probably shouldn’t. Walker commands the screen in every one of his scenes. There are also some very cool visuals: One involving a pair of glasses, and one involving spectators at one of Guy’s tennis matches, among others. The movie is in glorious black and white. This one is not as well known as Psycho, The Birds, or Rear Window, but it is definitely one of Hitchcock’s best, and is not to be missed.

Here’s the trailer:



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