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Plot: Bruno Anthony thinks he has the perfect plot to rid himself of his hated father and when he meets tennis player Guy Haines on a train, he thinks he's found the partner he needs to pull it off. His plan is relatively simple. Two strangers each agree to kill someone the other person wants disposed of. For example, Guy could kill his father and he could get rid of Guy's wife Miriam, freeing him to marry Anne Morton, the beautiful daughter of a U.S. Senator. Guy dismisses it all out of hand but but Bruno goes ahead with his half of the 'bargain' and disposes of Miriam. When Guy balks, Bruno makes it quite clear that he will plant evidence to implicate Guy in her murder if he doesn't get rid of his father. Guy had also made some unfortunate statements about Miriam after she had refused him a divorce. It all leads the police to believe Guy is responsible for the murder, forcing him to deal with Bruno's mad ravings. Runtime: 101 mins Release Date: 29 Jun 1951
One would have expected Hitchcock's return to major studio filmmaking to err on the side of chastened caution. Surely few expected his most riotous, unrestrained film, a gleeful melange of vicious black comedy, exciting suspense, mocking manipulation, and astonishing flights of fancy. But that is precisely what they got: STRANGERS ON A TRAIN.What is remarkable is how much Bruno's transgression disrupts the world of the film. Much has been made of the masterly crosscutting motif, but its immediate effect is to completely obstruct the straight line of progress Guy is making of his life, <more>
and hence the society he represents or is eager to join. Guy is the archetypal American, the working-class boy made good, moving in influential circles, athletic, successful, handsome. Bruno is his destructive opposite, gay, decadent, 'European' he lives off his father, in a Big House, and just lounges about dreaming of murder . Bruno's life is one of repetition, circularity, whereas Guy moves straight ahead. It is Bruno's achievement to move Guy into his realm represented by the merry-go-round and force HIM to transgress break the law, hope for murder Bruno's .Bruno is quite literally fighting patriarchy. All the authority figures in the film are criticised - Bruno's father, a man whose brutality we get a glimpse of, but the true horror of which is constantly alluded to in the film especially in Aunt Clara's paintings - that incredibly intense negative energy must come from somewhere ; Anna's incredibly Machiavellian, self-serving father; the insensitive judge who thinks nothing of lunching after an execution; the tennis commentator whose smugly authorative comments are always mistaken. Far from being the mother-hater of legend, Hitch, as Robin Wood perceived, is deeply hostile to fathers and patriarchy.Bruno's transgression turns the world topsy-turvy. This is Hitch's most surreal film. Whenever Guy is in his plot, he is filmed straight, with conventionally romantic music. But whenever Bruno intrudes, the atmosphere becomes carnivalesque, bizarre, much more fun. This is Hitch's first truly American film, revelling in the primitive detritus of Americana. Grown men puncture little boys' balloons, or try to throw them off merry-go-rounds. Distinguished professors of mathematics sing about goats on trains. Elderly society matrons are strangled at elegant soirees. Washington is filmed like a series of spare lines in a vast desert under a huge sky, like a haunting Dali painting. There is one of the greatest, and funniest, scenes in all cinema when we see a motionless, smiling Bruno in a sea of turning heads at a tennis match, an image worthy of Magritte. Just look at any scene with Bruno in it, and watch it derail into the bizarre.Phalluses abound in the most ridiculous permutations - check all those balloons Hitch had obviously just seen THE THIRD MAN - as well as in more staid environs: Washington will never look the same again. STRANGERS is also, VERTIGO notwithstanding, Hitch's most overtly sexual film - as well as the phalluses, there is the sustained homoeroticism, the remarkable play with 'riding' horses; the gobsmacking fellatio joke when Hitch's daughter spills powder over the policeman.And yet Hitch doesn't stint on good old suspense. In the very proper endeavour to show what a great artist he was, critics tend to overlook what made him famous in the first place. Much has been made of Bruno as a prototype of Norman Bates, and Hitch plays merry havoc on audience identification, willing Bruno into murder. There is a hilariously painful sequence where Bruno loses the lighter with which he intends to frame Guy down a drain. The gasps of tension and sighs of relief on the part of the audience I was a part of in support of an insane murderer is inherently funny, slightly disturbing, and highly revealing about our true reactions to conformity and success. And Hitch milks it with callous glee - listen to the mocking music and exagerrated compositions, and kick yourself for taking it all so seriously.STRANGERS is one of Hitch's five best films, and therefore one of the greatest things in cinema. The dialogue is so strange and brilliant, I can't believe it wasn't written by Chandler. Patricia Hitchcock is a wonderful imp, standing in for her cheeky father as she taunts Guy. The fairground finale is a remarkable, dizzying fusion of exciting, tense set-piece, black comedy and symbolic site. If Bruno's final words condemn him to hell according to the Catholic precepts Hitch is supposed to embody: compare with a similar ending in THE KILLERS , we applaud his integrity, infinitely preferable to Guy's debased serving of self.
Amazing performance by Robert Walker (by MovieAddict2016)
"Strangers on a Train" was one of those film classics I had always heard about but somehow never gotten around to actually seeing. I finally watched it a few weeks ago and, as always with any Hitchcock movie, it not only stood up to the test of time, it far surpassed most thrillers being made today. You can see the inspiration for future action movies here - the climactic ending with the out-of-control merry-go-round and the two villains dueling each other reminded me of the big action sequence at the end of Jan de Bont's "Speed." Of course, "Strangers" is <more>
over forty years older than "Speed" and contains no modern special effects, but the visceral thrill is there - Hitchcock was a true genius.The not-so-subtle gay side of Bruno Robert Walker in an amazing performance has taken form in many other psycho-stalker-figures in future movies. Consider him a male version of Jennifer Jason Leigh in "Single White Female." He knows about Guy before he even meets him on the train - we almost get the feeling their contact isn't incidental - and is soon entirely obsessed with him.Hitchcock loved the Oedipial elements in his movies also see "Psycho" for more blatant undertones and there's a lot of that here. Bruno hates his father and wants him to die so he can be with his mother. His effeminate ways and obvious homosexuality must have just slipped by the censors in 1951, when gays were not "allowed" to be portrayed on the screen - yet Hitchcock gets the message through effectively when we see Bruno in the lounge on the telephone wearing a very non-masculine robe, flirting with Guy and responding to his mother.The deep layers of this movie make it a fast-paced thriller than you can return to again and again - unfortunately it's being remade as a big-budget Hollywood production, but after seeing the original I honestly can't imagine anything surpassing the sheer white-knuckle thrills of this movie.
Hitchcock's compelling and original suspense masterpiece (by pyrocitor)
Looking back at the career of Alfred Hitchcock, it never fails to be surprising how such a brilliant and visionary man could be denied sufficient recognition for how revolutionary he was for the film industry. It is likely a sign of how ahead of his time Hitchcock was, always attempting to push the envelope, and never coasting along with a film made simply for the purpose of being entertaining, but always with a deeper, more poignant motive on his mind. Strangers on a Train, one of Hitchcock's first and more underrated hits, is a perfect example of these traits - an entertaining and <more>
suspenseful story, even when viewed over 50 years later, yes, but so carefully and intelligently constructed it stands today as a masterpiece in film technique. Arguably one of the pioneering "suspense thrillers", Strangers on a Train may come across as slightly dated in certain aspects, but it retains every bit of superbly crafted tension as it did back in 1951 if perhaps slightly less shocking . The brilliant use of cinematography and lighting as well as quick, careful editing are what really make the film stand out, drawing out every possible iota of tension and retaining the audience's focus even in slower scenes. If there was ever any doubt of what a simply masterful filmmaker Hitchcock was, simply watching five minutes of Strangers on a Train should be enough to disavow such sentiments; every shot is so carefully chosen and constructed, all serving to drive the storyline ahead in a particularly innovative fashion. Sadly enough, there are certain moments in the story which are screechingly out of place enough to jar our focus away from the superb cinematography and editing - Bruno being able to reach down to the bottom of a sewer grate is simply unbelievable, and the figure of a stereotypical old man crawling under a wildly out of control carousel provides unintentional comedic relief in what is meant to be the film's most tense and engaging scene. These are only brief moments, but they are enough to stand out as painfully weak in an otherwise stellar film.But what really makes Strangers on a Train stand out is the story premise. As Hollywood films of late run the risk of descending inescapably further and further into the vat of turgid clichée after clichée, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a 50 year old film with a premise which actually comes across as smart and original. Sure it's fairly straightforward, but the concept of "swapping murders" is simply one that would not fly in films of today's day and age, which makes it all the more entertaining to watch; the film's brilliant screenplay keeps the action flowing at a swift pace while providing us with some wonderfully memorable lines all the while. One can't help but notice the deeper themes Hitchcock is alluding to throughout as well, especially the concept of "darkness in humanity's heart", demonstrated by elderly ladies being fascinated and exhilarated by the prospect of murder, as well as Bruno's own cavalier attitude towards death. Hitch also works in many moments of dark humour Bruno popping a child's balloon with his cigarette is priceless , and irony, shooting suspenseful scenes in happy, easy-going environments, such as the iconic carnival scenes, to create an even more eerie atmosphere. This may be a suspense thriller, yes, but to overlook the brain concealed beneath it would be simply inexcusable. The antagonistic figure of Bruno essayed to perverse perfection by Robert Walker, sadly in his last film role, but easily stealing the film from his admittably very talented fellow cast members is without a doubt what makes Strangers on a Train so memorable, as the character is a marvel to behold. Here we have a simply superbly crafted villainous figure, all the more intriguing by how ordinary and unassuming he seems. Rather than cackling madly and thwarting the hero at every possible moment, Bruno is a calm, controlled, psychotic mess. He speaks of murder in such an offhand tone, yet retains a passionate glint in his eye when discussing different fashions of killing people. Bruno could seem to represent the "Id", as Freud would put it, the inner, darker and uninhibited aspects of mankind. It makes an interesting contrast to the hero figure, Guy Haines, and how bland and uninteresting he seems, almost as if to drive home the prospect of evil being much more interesting and appealing than constantly striving to do the right thing. Yet despite this implied message, Hitch still twists our emotions enough that we root for Guy at every turn, and cheer at each new obstacle he is forced to overcome. It's a testament to actor Farley Granger's talent that despite Robert Walker's villain easily stealing the show, Granger's hero still comes across as sympathetic, still commanding our support even when falling prey to being a far less compelling character. Superb support is given by Ruth Roman, who manages to overcome the clichée and be a more innovative and complex romantic interest figure, Kasey Rogers giving a stunning performance as Guy's horrifyingly manipulative and hedonistic first wife, and Patricia Hitchcock, proving that she is far more talented than being simply "the director's daughter" would imply. The superb cast headed by a simply wonderful Walker really bring the film to life, adding so much more merit to the film than simply Hitchcock's breathtaking stylistics. All in all, Strangers on a Train may still come across as slightly too dated for certain viewers, but it's still a shock how modern and appealing to contemporary audiences seems, considering it was released half a century ago. Once again, Hitchcock proves his unparalleled mastery of tension and film technique, and the film's surprisingly original and enjoyable premise is alone worth a viewing. Highly recommended to anyone wishing to undertake a brilliantly made but superbly entertaining film experience! -9/10
One of Hitchcock's finest achievements (by ametaphysicalshark)
"Strangers on a Train" is a brilliant example of what Hitchcock could do best, continually develop his plot and characters in an atmosphere both creepy and humorous. The film has great dialogue, superb characters, good acting, and naturally superb direction from the master of suspense who is truly at his best here. Robert Walker's Bruno Anthony is a character few will forget; he is creepy, psychopathic, and as M. Night Shyamalan says on one of the DVD's special features it is the fact that he has moral standards, however unconventional and disturbed they may be, that makes <more>
him such a dangerous man. Strangers is a truly involving film, one that takes you on a ride you won't forget anytime soon, it has one of the best examples of buildup you could find on film, and as soon as it ends the film takes you on a journey that entertains and terrifies and even makes you laugh. This is a truly brilliant example of film-making, every shot is drenched in suspense, every cut is masterful, every detail important, every second exciting, it never lets go till the very end, and what an ending that is, a delicious bit of humor that is perfectly in tone with the rest of this delightful masterpiece.Some have criticized Farley Granger's performance as Guy Haines, but it really is quite perfect; he delivered all his lines well and makes us feel honestly sympathetic towards him. Robert Walker is simply genius as Bruno Anthony, a great character that wouldn't have been nearly as memorable without Robert Walker's devilishly evil portrayal of him. The supporting cast are good, Ruth Roman, Leo G. Carroll, Kasey Rogers, Howard St. John and Patricia Hitchcock all deliver good performances that enhance what was already a good film and make it a great film. Alfred Hitchcock's direction is, as always, sublime.What makes "Strangers" so good is the simple plot. It isn't a complicated story, two strangers meet on a train, and one comes up with a crazy plot: "You do my murder, I do yours." One takes it as a joke and shrugs it off, but the other takes himself seriously and goes on to commit the murder he offered to, getting the 'good guy' into huge trouble. The script is adapted superbly well by Whitfield Cook from a novel by Patricia Highsmith.This is really one of Hitchcock's most interesting films from a technical perspective while also providing more than enough laughs, suspense, and thrills to keep just about anybody engaged.10/10
Strangers on a Train - a Review by Jo Henshaw (by johenshaw)
"Lets swap Murders- your wife, my father"- seemingly innocent conversation between two strangers - Bruno Anthony and Guy Haines when they meet over lunch on a train journey. Guy, a solid, respectable tennis player, whose problem is that his wife, the flirtatious Miriam, won't divorce him so he can marry senators daughter Anne, laughs the whole conversation off as a joke. The following week he isn't laughing any more. In a scene of classic Hitchcock suspense, Bruno stalks Miriam through a carnival and strangles her. As he does, her glasses fall off and we see the murder <more>
eerily reflected twice through her lenses. Cold hearted and amoral Bruno, his part of the deal completed, approaches an appalled Guy expecting, even pressuring him into 'doing his bit.' Matters are not helped when Anne's precocious and outspoken younger sister turns up suspecting Guy of Miriam's murder. So accused of a murder he didn't commit and expected to commit another, what is Guy going to do? The power of this film is in the presentation of human beings as having a murderous side to their nature - and this Hitchcock does to perfection.
In Strangers On A Train, it's obvious from the start that playboy wastrel Robert Walker has singled out Farley Granger as an unwilling accomplice to a pair of murders. Granger's a semi-public figure, he's a tennis pro, but not an especially high one. High enough however for him to know that Granger is trapped in a loveless marriage and would like to be free to marry Ruth Roman.So when they meet as complete Strangers On A Train one afternoon, Walker knows enough that Granger will at least be intrigued enough with the possibility that if the two of them, complete strangers, did <more>
commit homicide on parties that the other would be convenienced by their demise. Though Granger is repulsed by the idea, one of the beautiful things about this film, is that you can see in the performance he gives that Granger just might submit to temptation.In fact when Walker kills Laura Elliot, Granger's wife whose been two timing him and even gotten pregnant by another man, he expects that Granger will in turn murder Walker's father so that Walker can inherit his estate. Today Walker would be called a trust fund baby and a pretty malevolent one at that.Alfred Hitchcock directed Walker to his career role, ironically in his last complete film. Walker died the following year with most of My Son John finished. Hitchcock does not do too bad by Farley Granger either. Of course when Granger does balk at committing homicide on people who never did anything to him, the tension. Strangers On A Train is also characterized by great editing, first in the tennis match in which Granger has to finish the match and waylay Walker before he plants evidence convicting Granger at the crime scene. And also in that final climax with a fight on a runaway carousel between Walker and Granger.Strangers On A Train is Hitchcock at his best, it should not be missed and ought to be required viewing when film classes study editing.
A stunning thriller from the master of suspense (by The_Void)
Alfred Hitchcock has made many brilliant thrillers, and many of them have gone on to be hailed as some of the greatest films of all time. One film that tends to get somewhat lost under the Vertigo's and the Psycho's is this film; Strangers on a Train, the most compelling film that Hitchcock ever made. The story follows Guy Haines, a tennis player and a man soon to be wed to the Senator's daughter, if he can get a divorce from his current wife. One day, on the way to see his wife, he meets the mentally unstable Bruno Anthony aboard a train and soon gets drawn into a murder plot <more>
that he can neither stop nor stall; and one that could ultimately cost him his life.The conversation aboard the train between Bruno and Guy is one of the cinema's most intriguing and thought provoking of all time. What if two people "swapped" murders, thus resolving themselves of all suspicion of the crime, and rendering their motive irrelevant? Could this truly be the perfect murder? What makes this film all the more frightening is that the events that Guy is lead into could happen to any, normal everyday person. Everyone has someone they'd like to get rid of, so what if you met an insane man aboard a train that does your murder for you and then forces you to do his? The chances of it happening are unlikely, but it's the idea that anyone could be a murderer that is central to the message of Strangers on a Train; and in this situation, anyone could. Is there any actor on earth that could have portrayed the character of Bruno Anthony any better than Robert Walker? The man was simply born for the part. He manages to capture just the right mood for his character and absolutely commands every scene he is in. The character of Bruno is a madman, but he's not a lunatic; he's a calculating, conniving human being and Robert Walker makes the character believable. His performance is extremely malevolent, and yet understated enough to keep the character firmly within the realms of reality. Unfortunately, Robert Walker died just one year after the release of Strangers on a Train, and I believe that is a great loss to cinema. Nobody in the cast shines as much as Walker does, but worth mentioning is his co-star Farley Granger. Granger never really impresses that much, but his performance is good enough and he holds his own against Walker. Also notable about his performance is that he portrays his character as a very normal person; and that is how it should be. Ruth Roman is Guy's wife to be. She isn't really in the film enough to make a lasting impression, but she makes the best of what she has. Alfred Hitchcock's daughter, Patricia, takes the final role of the four central roles as Barbara, the sister of Guy's fiancé. She is suitably lovely in this role, and she tends to steal a lot of the scenes that she is in.Alfred Hitchcock's direction is always sublime, and it is very much so in this film. There is one shot in particular, that sees the murder of the film being committed in the reflection of a pair of sunglasses. This is an absolutely brilliant shot, and one that creates a great atmosphere for the scene. Hitchcock's direction is moody throughout, and very much complies with the film noir style. The climax to the film is both spectacular and exciting, and I don't think that anyone but Hitchcock could have pulled it off to the great effect that it was shown in this film. It's truly overblown, and out of turn from the rest of the movie; but it works. There is a reason that Hitchcock is often cited as the greatest director of all time, and the reason for that is that he doesn't only use the script to tell the film's story, but he also uses to camera to do so as well. Strangers on a Train is one of the greatest thrillers ever made. Its story is both intriguing and thought provoking, and is sure to delight any fan of cinema. A masterpiece.
Even though some unrealistic things happen at the end i.e. a cop shooting a gun into a crowded merry-go-round where any number of innocent could be killed , this still was an intense, enjoyable thriller, one of Alfred Hitchcock's better films. Robert Walker is excellent as the chilling nutcase, really convincing giving a fascinating performance that is almost too creepy at times. His co-star in here, Farley Granger, is okay but is no match for Walker, either in acting or in the characters they play. It's the typical Hitchcock film with some strange camera angles, immoral themes, <more>
innocent man gets in trouble, etc. Unlike a lot of his other films, I thought this one was a fast-moving story with a very few dull spots. Being an ex-tennis player, I enjoyed his footage of some excellent old net matches that featured some good rallies. Hitchcock's real-life daughter Patricia has an interesting and unique minor character role in here. She didn't just get the job because of her dad; she can act. Also of note: the DVD has both the British and American versions and there were some differences in the story. This is a classic film that is still referred to in modern-day films, even comedies such as "Throw Momma Off The Train."
Very good Hitch film about a tennis champion who becomes involved with psychopath in exchange killings (by ma-cortes)
Top-notch Hitch film dealing with a girl in love with young America's idol , a Tennis star named Guy Haines who becomes involved with a good-looking stranger , Bruno Anthony, in search of sensation that's how it all began..! Warner Bros bring a pounding new tempo to motion picture entertainment. A psychotic socialite Robert Walker as unforgettable psycho confronts a pro tennis star Farley Granger with a theory on how two complete strangers can get away with murder...a theory that he plans to implement . Guy Haines meets a stranger on the Washington-to-New York train who offers to <more>
exchange murders. The stranger will kill Guy's estranged wife if Guy will murder Bruno's hated father. Guy doesn't take Bruno seriously until his spouse , Miriam Laura Elliott , is found killed in an amusement park . Guy becomes the chief suspect, which threatens his tennis career and his romantic involvement with a U.S. senator Leo G. Carroll 's daughter Ruth Roman .Hitchcock first visited Hollywood in 1940, but was turned down by virtually all major motion picture studios because they thought he could not make a "Hollywood" picture. He was finally offered a seven-year directing contract by producer David O. Selznick. His first project was supposed to be a film about the Titanic, but Selznick scrapped the project because he "couldn't find a boat to sink." Selznick assigned Hitch to direct Rebeca 1940 instead, which later won the Best Picture Oscar . Later on , Hitchcock shot ¨Strangers on a train¨.Tense/suspense/mystery abounds in this thriller from Hithcock who combines the elements of intrigue with romance, drama and action . Thrilling and interesting screenplay based on a Patricia Highsmith novel and co-scripted by novelist Raymond Chandler and uncredited the prestigious Ben Hecht . Robert Walker and Farley Granger give their finest acting as psychopath and tennis star respectively . Hitchock married Alma Reville , usually screenwriter ,and had one daughter, Patricia Hitchcock, who appeared in several of his movies: Stage fright 1950 , and Psicosis 1960 and Strangers on the train where she plays splendidly the distrusted sister .Frequent collaborator the director of photography Robert Burks creates a stunning cinematography . Suspenseful and atmospheric original music by the classic Dimitri Tiomkin.Hitchcock often used the ¨false guilty¨ or "wrong man" or "mistaken identity" theme in his movies Sabotage 1942 , I confess 1953 , Wrong man 1956 , North by Northwest 1959 , Frenesí 1972 and of course Stranger on a train . In a lot of his films -more noticeably in the early black and white American films-, he used to create more shadows on the walls to create suspense and tension . Hitch hated to shoot on location , he preferred to shoot at the studio where he could have full control of lighting and other factors. Rating : Above average , well worth watching . This good thriller by the master himself, who preys on the senses and keeps the suspense at feverish pitch . Worthwhile seeing thanks some Hitch's touches .