Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon | Strangers on a Train
Thanks to Maddy for hosting this blogathon. You can have a look at the films other bloggers have chosen for the blogathon here.
Strangers on a Train (1951) ★★★★☆
Humpo Show Rating | 7.8
IMDb Rating | 8.0
Starring: Farley Granger, Robert Walker, Ruth Roman, Patricia Hitchcock, Leo G. Carroll,
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Plot Summary: A psychotic socialite confronts a pro tennis star with a theory on how two complete strangers can get away with murder – a theory that he plans to implement. (IMDb)
Hitchcock’s murder-swap thriller has his unmistakable suspenseful aura permeating throughout the film. This unique premise of swapping murders makes for a thoughtful film that discusses the advantages and pitfalls of enacting such a thing. Walker plays the charming psychopath exceptionally well. Once he commits the murder that he believes Guy (Granger) wanted done, he tries to pressure Guy into murdering his father as part of the supposed deal they agreed upon.
The favourite aspect of Strangers for me was the frenetic back and forth between Guy’s tennis match and journey to the fairground, and Bruno trying to reach for the fallen cigarette case. Guy constantly looking at the clock while playing his match showcased how excruciating it was for him, and also for us, as we wanted the clock to slow down and for Guy to win his match in order to meet and catch Bruno before he plants evidence. The music, which is fantastic throughout, is best felt here, the incessant strings and pounding drums are matched by the beating of our hearts and racing minds.
The finale is probably the biggest downside of the film. It has not aged well. The combination of poor decision-making by lots of people makes the end scenario possible, but it comes off as messy and unrealistic. Speaking of unrealistic, the fairground ride is pure fantasy, and that is an unfortunate memory to have of the film despite the great qualities that it has displayed throughout the film.
The murder is wonderfully operatic. The silhouettes and fallen glasses were lovely touches. The dropping of a cigarette case stole the scene though, as it would have been a crucial clue in the murder. The falling of the case was matched by the falling of my jaw, as I thought that Walker would mess up the murder. Hitchcock at is finest. The music in this scene is perfect and it is matched by the cinematography. Very Hitchcockian.
Strangers on a Train is a fine Hitchcock film that bears the hallmarks of his work; the intrigue, the great casting, and the mastery of storytelling. Walker’s acting was a particular highlight, he was sublime as the devil-may-care murderer, who had “coincidentally” bumped into Guy on the train. Given his knowledge of Guy and his state of mind, it is plausible to think that he hoped for such a scenario. Either way, the story plays out really well and although not my favourite Hitchcock film, it is a good film to have in his catalogue.
The Humpo Show | Richard