Readers Recommendations: “Strangers on a Train”

strangers_on_a_trainHey everyone, it’s Friday, time for another entry in the Reader Recommendations series!

The Reader Recommendation series is intended to help me formally pursue all the great films that commenters bring up each week in discussion which I’ve never seen. If there’s a movie that comes up that I haven’t seen, but you think I should, email me @ fogsmoviereviews@gmail.com or let me know in the comments that you’d like to participate!
 
This time up, our movie recommendation comes from Melissa HunterMelissa profile of The Soul of the Plot! Melissa’s selected a classic Alfred Hitchcock movie for us, 1951′s “Strangers on a Train”!
 
I’m a big fan of Hitchcock, and have seen many of his films. But somehow this one has eluded me until now, so I’m all too happy that Melissa gave me the opportunity to formally check it out!
 
Click through to see what we had to say!
 

 
 
 

My questions in bold. Melissa′s answers below.

 
1) Do you remember when you first saw the movie?
 
Yeah, I got the DVD as a gift for my birthday; this would have been two or three years ago. It wasn’t the first Hitchcock film I had seen, but it was pretty close, probably the third or fourth. Though I loved it the first time, I have since grown to love it even more because I seem to find something new every time I watch it.

 
2) Why do you think that it’s recommendable? What do you like about it?
 
Strangers on a Train is one of Hitchcock’s best films, and it really shows a lot of the things that he’s known for. It’s very suspenseful, there’s a great murder scene, his classic innocent man wrongly accused plot, an intense climax, and a creepily friendly antagonist.
 
3) Is the movie underappreciated, do you think? Or does pop culture have it fairly rated?
 
I think Strangers on a Train is fairly represented. It’s not as well-known as Psycho, The Birds, or probably even Vertigo but it was one that I had at least heard of before I really looked into Hitchcock’s films. The plot of two strangers switching murders is used on a lot of crime shows; I know for a fact NCIS and Castle have done it but I would not be surprised if it has showed up elsewhere as well.
 
4) Is there any particular reason you thought I should watch it, or were you just surprised I hadn’t seen it?
 
Well, if you’re a Hitchcock fan, you should see this movie. Period. I remember you saying you hadn’t seen this one, and also saying that you were a Hitchcock fan, so I thought it would be a good fit for this.

 
5) Have you written about the movie yourself? (Insert plug here! LOL )
 
I did write a review of Strangers on a Train last December as part of my Hitchcock marathon:
 
 

Thanks, Melissa! My review is below!

 

When a famous tennis player, Guy Haines (Farley Granger), meets a nosy fan on a train, he gets sucked into conversation with the man. Bruno Antony (Robert Walker) has followed Haines’ exploits and personal life through the society pages of the newspapers. Over drinks and lunch, Antony brings up a series of crazy ideas he’s had… from driving a car blindfolded, to going to the moon. Eventually, though, he brings up an idea for the perfect murder. Two men – complete strangers – commit murders for each other. With no motive, neither would be tied to their actual crimes. And with the opportunity to create a perfect alibi, neither would be proven guilty of the murder they actually wished for. 

Haines has plenty of reason to want someone murdered. His wife has cheated on him, and is pregnant with another man’s child, yet she refuses to grant him a divorce. She’s also threatening to reveal an affair he’s been having with a Senator’s daughter. Bruno, for his part, wants his domineering father killed. He wants it done so badly he’s willing to present his plan to a complete stranger.

Haines is dismissive, however. It’s just crazy talk, from a crazy man. But when Bruno carries through on his end of the bargain unbidden, Haines is caught in a precarious situation. He protests, and refuses to commit his murder. But Bruno isn’t about to give up. He’s killed a woman, and can claim that Haines put him up to it.

The question becomes can Haines get out of following through with his side of things? Or will everything unravel, and the two men get caught?

As with all Hitchcock movies, story is paramount, and suspense abounds. Bruno slowly follows Haines’ wife through a carnival before strangling her. He stalks Haines after the deed is done, and even infiltrates his social circles. The tension mounts as Bruno gets uncomfortably close to Haines and boorishly talks about murder in public. Hitchcock creates numerous anxious situations for the audience to squirm through, in the way that only he can.

The film also a number of Hitchcock’s trademark memorable shots, such as when Bruno watches Haines play tennis, and the crowds’ heads turn left and right as tennis fans will do, yet Bruno stays fixated on Haines, or when Bruno recalls the murder he committed by seeing a reflection in a woman’s glasses. He’s able to combine remarkable camera work, a perfect score, and a great story to create a nail-biting film.

I’ve yet to see a Hitchcock film I didn’t like, and “Strangers on a Train” is no exception. Hitchcock is so good, he can (and does) make a tennis match seem suspenseful. I think that “Strangers” may indeed, be one of his best, potentially top five! Thank you, Melissa, for giving me the opportunity to write it up!

A+

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61 thoughts on “Readers Recommendations: “Strangers on a Train”

  1. My first Hitchcock movie and to this day still my favorite. Even in some of its more goofy moments (the carnie crawling beneath the carousel to shut it off still kills me with his facial expressions and over/underacting), it’s gripping, unnerving stuff. It’s the best example of how a pro like Hitch could take a story and turn the volume up all the way without making his audience go deaf. Fantastic stuff, and yeah, definitely a must-see if you’re a fan of the master of suspense or not.

    • I know, Hunter made a great recommendation. You’re right though, that Carnie moment IS a little goofy. :D

      I think the best thing to say about Hitchock out of this one is that he can make a tennis match seem tense. And he did!

      Glad to hear you’re a fan, Andy, this is definitely a good one!

  2. Thanks to both of you for reminding of this film. My lecturer at uni used parts of this to demonstrate the art of filming conversation. I was so intrigued I put it on my list of films to watch properly later. Unfortunately over the years managed to forget all about it.
    It’s now firmly back on the list.

    • Funny story Andreas… going forward though, I dont allow people to link to their stuff in comments, ok? It got a little out of hand, and the only thing I could think of was not to allow it. Alright?

      Thanks for stopping by though. :D

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