Gripping all the way, this is a Hitchcock thriller in which, through happenstance, two men, completely different, are drawn inexorably together and toward an uncommon goal--murder. Hitchcock opens this electrifying film by showing two sets of male feet, those of Guy Haines (Granger) and
Bruno Antony (Walker), hurrying towards a train. Guy wears conservative-looking shoes, Bruno black and white spectator shoes, and from their very movements, the sure gait of Guy, the anxious steps of Bruno, the viewer can easily tell, once the two are shown fully on camera, their distinctive
personalities. After some club car chit-chat in which both men discuss some personal problems, Bruno proposes, in theory, of course, that they each murder the person vexing the other person's life--Bruno would murder Guy's wife in exchange for Guy murdering Bruno's father. Guy is appalled at the
idea, but is even more appalled when Bruno carries out his half of the deal and then expects Guy to do the same.
STRANGERS ON A TRAIN ranks at the top of Hitchcock's most accomplished works, a masterpiece that is so carefully constructed and its characters so well developed that the viewer is quickly intimate and comfortable with the story long before Bruno turns killer. After reading Patricia Highsmith's
novel, Hitchcock paid $7,500 for the rights to adapt the book and then went about having a rough draft written for the screen, later bringing in Raymond Chandler to do the finished script--a collaboration which was thoroughly frustrating for both parties. At first Hitchcock insisted that he work
at Chandler's side, working out every detail of the film as he, Hitchcock, envisioned it, a routine that soon had the brilliant, booze-sipping Chandler nervous and often upset. Chandler's script nevertheless was the basic one employed by Hitchcock, although the director later asked his favorite
writer, Ben Hecht, to come in and "spruce it up." Since Hecht was engaged on several other projects, he assigned Czenzi Ormonde, who worked for him, to clean up some of the dialogue and tighten some scenes before Hecht himself gave final approval. Granger is excellent as the innocent victim of the
evil plot, and Walker (who would make only one more film before his death) is, like Joseph Cotten's "Uncle Charlie" in SHADOW OF A DOUBT, one of Hitchcock's most diabolical and charismatic villains--a frightening alter ego to the film's hero. Remade in 1969 as ONCE YOU KISS A STRANGER, and the
basis for the 1987 comedy THROW MOMMA FROM THE TRAIN.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Gripping all the way, this is a Hitchcock thriller in which, through happenstance, two men, completely different, are drawn inexorably together and toward an uncommon goal--murder. Hitchcock opens this electrifying film by showing two sets of male feet, th… (more)