It's an absolutely audacious sequence, so thematically cohesive , so snappy, so fun. In that, it absolutely bears the thumbprints of Hitch, rather than, say, Patricia Highsmith, on whose novel it's based, or even Raymond Chandler, whose credit was flagged energetically in publicity, but whose early draft was junked by the director, who roped in his wife and Ben Hecht's assistant, Czenzi Ormonde, to overhaul.
That opener is a true coup de cinema; there are countless others threaded through. The trip through the underworld as Bruno tops Miriam after hopping in a boat called Pluto through the tunnel of love.
It's never fantastical — filmed in an actual fairground — but it's absolutely operatic in its nods and shots, its sillouettes and soundtrack Miriam and her two groping friends actually sing along to the song 'The Band Played On'. The climatic fight on the carousel ; the murder refracted in the victim's spectacles; the Expressionist visuals — Hitch's most vivid use of swoops and chiaroscuro since the drummer scene in Young and Innocent.
A word for the grace notes, too: Bruno's manicure from his mother; his hound at the top of the stairs, his nail-biting grope for the lighter dropped down a drain, spliced with Guy's epic, against-the-clock tennis match, which must be completed before Bruno plants it as incriminating evidence. All these suggest our sympathies should lie with Bruno , not our hero. So does the casting. Robert Walker is everything Kevin Spacey could be; deft and feline, smart and charming, sweet and insidious.
That he was just 31 when he shot this is shocking; that he died eight months later, suffering from mental illness, is terrible. Conversely, Granger does well to make our clean-cut leading man so much of a drag. How different would it have been had James Stewart taken that part, or Cary Grant. Granger is dapper, like Stewart, but nervous where Stewart was lackadaisical.
Unlike Grant, he is permitted, in this, no discernible sense of humour, and only surface, mannequin glamour. Ruth Roman, taking third billing, was foisted on an unconvinced Hitch, and it shows. The movie seems to mock her while appearing to idolise. The lighter may be the MacGuffin but the girl is an irrelevance, a token, an afterthought.
For the key to Strangers is that it's a love story; Bruno and Guy's meeting in the dining car is every bit as seductive as Grant and Marie Saint's locomotive bunkup in North by Northwest. This is a film saturated in the sweat of McCarthyism there's an astonishing shot of Bruno, alone, clad in black, watching Guy from the steps of the Jefferson Memorial. Even the final scene, a supposedly larky little coda warning against the perils of chat with even the most innocuous fellow passenger, would not work were we still not jittery with a paranoia that's part and parcel of just pottering around in the world.
Words Paul Risker Share this Share this. The Meeting While the train carriage setting is a convenient meeting place for two strangers, it also allows Hitchcock to incorporate the recurring motif of crisscrossing train tracks, mirroring the paths of his two characters.
Strangers on a Train is a American psychological thriller film noir produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and based on the novel Strangers on a. Farley Granger in Strangers on a Train () Alfred Hitchcock andhis daughter Patricia on the set of "Strangers On A Train," Alfred Hitchcock on teh set of.
Mojave By Joel Philpott. Sign up to our weekly newsletter.
What are you looking for?