Class Act/Thriller

Strangers On A Train

 Click here to buy now: Strangers on a Train (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Distributed By: Warner Home Video

Reviewed by Justine Manzano

     Sometimes, I find, we are so busy with the day to day of our lives that we never get the chance to enjoy some of the good things we werenít there for.  For instance, I am far too young to have ever watched an Alfred Hitchcock movie upon itís initial release.  After that, who has time to play catch up and try to find everything you have missed?  There is so much great material to wade through, trying can be daunting.  Thatís the beautiful thing about film class.  Itís a guided tour through wonderfully made films that have made an impact on the industry.  This time, Film 101 led me to one of Hitchcockís timeless greats, Strangers On A Train.

     The story follows talented tennis player Guy Haines (Farley Granger) who happens to bump into Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker) on a train.  Bruno immediately begins to recite a million and one things about Guy that he has learned through the press and Guy is obviously hesitant about talking to this fellow, as it seems that he is just a tad obsessed with him.  It doesnít take Bruno long to reveal what he really wants from Guy.  Bruno, who is currently very unhappy with his fatherís supposed mistreatment of him, has heard that Guy is also unhappy.  Guy is having some difficulty obtaining a divorce from his estranged wife, Miriam Joyce Haines (Laura Elliott), which he needs, if he is going to move forward in his relationship with Ruth Roman (Anne Morton), a senatorís daughter.  Bruno suggests that he get rid of Guyís wife, and in return, Guy could get rid of his father.  At first, Guy plays along, believing that Bruno is joking.  They comment on how it would be the perfect crime, as they are complete strangers and there is no way that anyone could possibly draw a connection between them.

      To Guy, the conversation is a forgettable joke, shared by him and this good-natured, albeit odd, stranger.  But when his wife turns up dead after a particularly public argument between them, Guy realizes he is in trouble.  He knows he didnít do it, so Bruno is the only likely suspect.  Now, Guy owes Bruno a murderóand though Guy will try, Bruno has no intention of letting him out of his debt.

     The acting in this movie is amazing.  Granger is so good at playing fear, you sweat for him as every inch of his body looks seriously tense from the moment he discovers that his wife has been murdered.  But despite Grangerís excellent performance, Walker steals the show.  His Bruno somehow manages to be endearing and psychotic at the same time.  It is a strange feet to watch him as he grows increasingly insane as the scenes go on and eventually, his insanity is there for plain view.  Anyone can see it.  This takes a great deal of acting skill to portray, and Walker manages it. 

     After watching this movie, I certainly understand the hype about Hitchcock.  For one thing, the story is brilliant, taking you through several twists and turns as you watch Guy try to prove his innocence while trying to avoid Bruno, who is hounding him for reciprocation.  There is a motif of paths crossing, achieved by using intercutting to show how both men are going through certain events, that raises tensions and makes this movie gripping.  Such intercutting is most evident during the single most exciting tennis match Iíve ever seen, in which Guy struggles to quickly finish the game and slip past the police while Bruno attempts to plant evidence at the crime scene that would point to Guy.  It is also used in the gripping and alarming final scene of the movie.

     This movie is a film studentís dream, but it can also be yours.  We love it because everything we have learned about film is utilized in a uniquely interesting way.  Non-film students can also appreciate the pulse-pounding story and the way the movie just sucks you right in and you are in for the ride.  Iíve come to a conclusion.  Sometimes, itís hard for some to get past how dated something looks, but one thing is for sureóin most cases, there is a reason why a classic is a classic.  This is definitely one time I can say that I understand the hype.  Strangers On A Train, deserves to be a classic and so, obviously, does Hitchcock. 

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