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Strangers on a Train More at IMDbPro »

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

You scratch my itch, I'll scratch yours.

Author: Poseidon-3 from Cincinnati, OH
8 January 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Hitchcock had a few clunkers along the way (and even those usually appeal to someone as Hitch put so much of himself into his work), but this one certainly belongs towards the top ranking of his films for its sheer cohesive design and compelling storyline. Granger stars as a hot tennis pro, in love with socialite Roman, but married to cheating harridan Rogers. One day his toe hits that of Walker's and it kicks off a conversation that winds up with Walker suggesting that he bump off Rogers in exchange for Granger killing Walker's oppressive father! Granger laughs it off and politely excuses himself until a short time later when his shrew of a wife is found strangled to death. Walker then begins to wonder when Granger is going to hold up his end of the "bargain" and is not very pleased when he seems to resist the idea. Meanwhile, Roman, thanks to some of Granger's comments, isn't altogether sure her lover is innocent and her little sister Hitchcock (the director's daughter) keeps mouthing in jest reasons why he's a prime suspect! The pressure between the men builds until they face each other down in a vivid, whirling climax. Granger is appealing enough in his part, though he can't help but be overshadowed by Walker's showier role. He's likable, especially after seeing what he's up against in Rogers, yet can't help coming off as a bit of a sap. Roman is a monument of artifice and overacting, though occasionally some true emotion breaks through. Her already deep voice and heavy makeup and severe hairstyling serve to separate her from the romantic and delicate feelings she ought to be conveying. It's almost amusing to watch her eyes dart everywhere in mechanical fretfulness. Walker is a revelation. Having been cast many times as kindly young men, his leering, reckless, dangerous, sophisticated and unhinged, spoiled brat character is a big stretch for him and one he nails completely. (His son would later play a similarly indulged and homicidal role, Charlie X, on a classic episode of "Star Trek".) Rogers is a startling piece of work herself, unabashedly flaunting two boyfriends and looking for a third and nastily informing Granger that she's going to stay with him whether he likes it or not. Speech-impeded Hitchcock zealously overacts her character, too, flouncing around in a chiffon coverlet and spouting witticisms, but provides a level of amusement with it. She also gets to display some range when her spirited character begins to become frightened. Rounding out the cast are Hitchcock fave Carroll as Roman's father, befuddled delight Lorne as Walker's in-denial mother and Varden as a ritzy matron who lets Walker go a bit to far with a murderous demonstration. It's a film in which no detail was left to chance. One that film students can spend (and have spent) hours poring over for its symbolism and subtext. Walker, who could not have overtly portrayed a homosexual in 1951, finds ways though eye contact and body language to get his intentions across. Note how, as he's beginning to clamp down on Granger, his tie has lobsters on it or the way he sticks his feet out as far as he can, knowing that they'll be in the way when Granger sits down and attempts to cross his own. When he and Granger fight on the carousel, they lie prone on the floor as shafts from the horses pump up and down, in and out. Style abounds in every frame and creativity is used throughout making this a film that can be enjoyed many times over and examined for underlying visual symbols. The finale is a knockout even today. The American release print has a few minor cuts that soften Walker's flamboyance, but adds a corny tag at the end to ensure a happy ending. Ironically, both Rogers and Lorne would land recurring roles on the TV series "Bewitched".

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A suggested exchange of murders

Author: Daniel Kincaid from Canada
14 November 2007

Alfred Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train" is about, not surprisingly, two strangers that meet on a train. One of the strangers proposes that they each murder someone that the other person would like to see gone.

Robert Walker is perfect as Bruno Anthony, the stranger who suggests the murder plan. He manages to make his character thoroughly unnerving throughout the film. Farley Granger is also effective as the "normal" Guy Haines and the supporting cast is also solid.

This film never wants for tension. Walker's character is anxiety invoking for Haines and the audience. The story is well-developed and there are a number of turns that keep it interesting throughout. At the end, the tennis scene and follow-up are excellent, even in terms of the tennis rallies themselves. The technique of showing competing characters in different locations in a tight race was tense and highly effective.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

He ain't called "The Master of Suspense" for nothing

Author: TheMarquisDeSuave from Worcester, MA
3 July 2007

Alfred Hitchcock is widely known as "The Master of Suspense" and with good reason. Nobody could fashion such white-knuckle tension through the mere power of suggestion as he could. Viewed today, anyone of his masterpieces is just as thrilling and quickly paced as when they originally were released. A perfect example of his brilliance would be "Strangers on a Train". The concept is memorable, but many of the events seem a bit far fetched and even ridiculous on closer inspection. However, Hitchcock's direction is so masterful he makes even seemingly implausible situations brimming with suspense. "Strangers on a Train" remains one of his most suspenseful films. Its one of Hitchcock's most interesting variants on the "Wrong Man" theme.

The performances are a bit uneven. As usual, Farley Granger is rather wooden. Just as in "Rope", hes completely overshadowed by his costar. Robert Walker gives easily his best performance as the psychotic Bruno Anthony. Hitchcock knows how to manipulate the audience into liking his character. Hes witty, refined, and unafraid to speak his mind. Hes a much more compelling protagonist than Farley Granger's. Add to this several delightful supporting performances (Patricia Hitchcock, Leo G. Carroll, Marion Lorne) and another great score from Dimitri Tiomkin and you have film of perfect entertainment value. (9/10)

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Two strangers, one immortal masterpiece

Author: José Luis Rivera Mendoza (jluis1984) from Mexico
5 April 2006

Patricia Highsmith's gripping tale of the meeting of two strangers with nothing in common except the desire of murder, was the origin of one of the Master of Suspense's most praised and successful movies. Overshadowed by the rest of his 50s movies, "Strangers on a Train" is one of Alfred Hitchcock's best films, and definitely a landmark not only in his career, but also in history of film.

During a small trip on a train from Washington to New York, Bruno Anthony (Roger Walker) meets tennis professional Guy Haines (Farley Granger) and soon a friendly bond is set between them. During lunch, they discover that they have something in common: both have someone in their lives they would like to kill. Bruno comes with a bizarre intriguing solution proposing that each should kill the other's "problem". Guy takes the conversation as a joke, but soon he'll discover that Bruno was really serious about it, dead serious about it.

Hitchcock's takes us to a haunting dark world in this movie as Bruno reveals as one of the scariest sociopaths on screen. Robert Walker literally steals every scene he is in and domains the screen with a powerful and unforgettable performance as Bruno Anthony. Sadly, it was his last performance but what a performance is this. Farley Granger is also very good as Guy, although Walker totally steals the show.

The complex relation between Guy and Bruno is something that Hitchcock explores with brilliant care (considering the strict rules of the time). Bruno is the Mephistopheles who just granted Guy/Faust's most desired wish and is waiting for his partner to pay the debt. He is the tempter who brings Guy to the dark side, while Guy tries to escape his pact even when he really enjoys the results of it.

Guilt and fear corrode him and Farley Granger makes the best of the character. The sexual tension between them is also something that, like Highsmith in the novel, Hitchcock uses to increase the suspense and tension in the audience. While in the American version of the film this is not as apparent, the British cut implies it subtly and it is possibly the best version of the film.

Hitchcock cleverly creates haunting imagery using Washington's landscape as stage for his noir-inspired tale. His style was totally developed at that time and his use of light and shadows is simply brilliant. The beautiful camera-work and the very creative set-pieces (the tennis match scene is simply perfect) complete this film that is nothing short of perfect.

This often forgotten masterpiece marks the beginning of Hitchcock's supreme reign over American cinema and, like his previous work "Stage Fright", continues the walk through the dark side that would lead to "Psycho"'s Norman Bates and "Vertigo"'s Scottie Ferguson. It is definitely an important film in the Master's career and one that everyone interested in cinema must watch at least once. 10/10

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Game,Set,Match to Robert Walker

Author: Bucs1960 from West Virginia
15 January 2002

I always thought that Robert Walker was a lightweight and happened to be Jennifer Jones' husband and that was about the extent of it. Then I saw "Strangers On A Train" and his performance in that film changed my mind and how!! His dark, perverse character is the epitome of evil with a smiling face. He oozes through this film like a bad dream and is your worst nightmare. The story, from the book by Patricia Highsmith, is well adapted from the original and may even be better. I read the book after seeing the movie and I was biased by the images from the film that kept popping before my eyes. Farley Granger, who never was one of my favorites is all wrong for the part of Guy Haines. Hitchcock insisted on using him (see "Rope")....he obviously saw something in him. His personality is so unattractive that it makes you wonder how Ruth Roman could ever be in love with him. He is the perfect victim for Walker, and is a weakling who won't even go to the police when the murder swapping scenario begins. Some of the images in this film are quite striking.....the reflection in the victim's glasses, the tennis match where everyone is watching the ball except Walker, and the fingers groping in the drain for the lighter. Pure Hitchcock. Poor Robert Walker never got the chance to follow up this wonderful performance due to his untimely death and the promise he showed here as a villain may have taken him to greater characterizations. This may not be one of Hitchcock's best films but it certainly should be on everyone's list as a must-see.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

"It's Too Fantastic!"

Author: Michael Coy ( from London, England
13 December 1999

It was tempting to put as the one-line summary of this film "Farley Granger's On A Train", or even "Bruno Picks Up Guy En Route To Metcalf", but I resisted. Oddly enough, this straight-faced murder thriller would be well-served by frivolous captions, having itself a strangely flippant feel.

Two men meet by chance on a train journey between Washington and New York. One is a clean-cut sports hero, the other a languid rich boy. Each has an inconvenient family-member - in the case of Guy the tennis star, it is his unfaithful wife, who stands between him and Anne, the woman he loves, and in Bruno's case it is his overbearing father. Bruno proposes that they swap murders - each should kill the other's problem relative. This will make the murders undetectable, because in each case there will be nothing to link the killer to the crime.

We meet both men by means of their feet - which is how they encounter each other. The opening sequence has each man making his way to the train, filmed from the knees down. Guy is sober and conservative, and the tennis racquets dangled by the porter tell us that he is an athlete. Bruno's flashy shoes give him away - he is a mincing mommy's boy. As they sit opposite one another in the train's observation car, their feet brush ... and Bruno has created his opportunity.

The relationship between the two men has a definite homosexual flavour to it. Their brief encounter smacks of a gay pick-up in an age when such things had to be done surreptitiously, and Guy's gradual relenting - agreeing first to a drink, then a meal - allows the flirtatious Bruno to take liberties. Robert Walker is wonderful as the unhinged Bruno, by turns beguiling and sinister. Farley Granger makes a good Guy Haines, the handsome tennis star whose girlfriend (Anne Morton, played by the lovely Ruth Roman) is smarter than he is.

Raymond Chandler co-wrote the screenplay, and it shows. The Guy-Bruno pairing of opposites is imitated in the Hennessy-Hammond twosome, the cops yoked together by their work. Of course, neither Bruno nor Guy has to bother with work, the one being idly rich, the other being groomed for a career in federal politics. The merry-go-round stands as a double metaphor - firstly a symbol of these characters' frothy lives, the pleasant treadmill which they cannot quit, and latterly (when it gets out of control) a symbol of Bruno's psychosis, attractive in the early stages but terrifying when it breaks free of its constraints.

The first fairground scene is vintage Hitchcock. Miriam loses our sympathy from the outset, cavorting with two toy boys. This is necessary, lest we blame Guy for her subsequent fate. Bruno's brooding presence is the very distillation of evil. His meanness to the little boy with the balloon strips away the veneer of his charm. We see Bruno unbuttoned for the first time. Miriam's awareness of Bruno tautens our nerves almost unbearably - she vacillates between sexual fear and sexual fascination, a duality which is reflected in the jollity of the setting and the ugliness of what we know will happen.

Bruno stalks both Guy and the film itself like an evil angel. We see him black against the floodlit monument, a troubling speck against the imposing regularity of the columns. In the crowd at the tennis match, Bruno alone fails to follow the flight of the ball, side to side. His head remains cruelly still, staring at Guy. He brushes aside his final opportunity for repentance, sticking to his malicious campaign to damage Guy long after it can achieve anything, in a nihilistic negation of life itself.

Some of the film's propositions don't hold water. Primarily, it is too much to believe that an aspiring politician and public hero like Guy would be duped into supposing that he can't go to the cops over the behaviour of this crank. In the atmospheric scene at the wrought-iron gate, Guy slips over to Bruno's side of the gate when the police car arrives, symbolising his 'crossing-over'. In real life, such a man would be too level-headed, and would have too much to lose, to be swayed by Bruno. Leo G. Carroll is far too English to be acceptable as a Washington senator, and police officers investigating murders don't confront suspects with their own alibi wirnesses. The notion that Guy would give his police 'minders' the slip and appear to be following Bruno's orders is crazy. If he were caught before exposing Bruno, he would not have a leg to stand on.

It is Anne who solves the crime. She spots the elaborate necktie which proves that the visitor is no stranger, and she sees the significance of the spectacles. As an interesting footnote, Anne's kid sister Barbara, the girl with the big personality, was played by Hitchcock's daughter Patricia.

The film has some characteristically flamboyant Hitchcock moments. The scene in the study is shot from a bird's eye view, both to evoke a sense of unease and to emphasise Guy's suppressed feelings of guilt - we see what Hennessy cannot, the concealed gun in the bureau drawer. The final climax is pure Hitchcock, with Guy needing to beat Bruno to the island, but first having to get through a five-set tennis match.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:


Author: Jules16 from Michigan
28 January 1999

I am a college student who watched this movie for the first time last year in my film class. I'd had very minimal experience with Hitchcock before this class, with just the standards (Psycho, The Birds) under my belt. This one fascinated me though. From the slightly creepy homosexual undertones to the double scenes, it amazed me. How would someone get the idea to make a movie about a matched pair and then make two of every single scene??? What a genius. Absolutely fantastic.

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7 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Implausible and Boring; Catnip for Misanthropes and Misogynists

Author: Danusha_Goska Save Send Delete
21 September 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Strangers on a Train" has style to burn but negligible brain or heart. It is a black and white classic chock full of vintage cars, clothing, mixed drinks, and scenes so calculated you can hear the clockwork go "tick tock tick tock." Its implausible premise: an obnoxious heir, Bruno Antony, (Robert Walker) meets Guy Haines, (Farley Granger) a tennis pro, on a train, and without so much as a how-do-you-do, tells Guy that he wants Guy to murder his, Bruno's, father. In exchange, Bruno will murder Guy's wife so that Guy can marry his hot girlfriend, the senator's daughter, Anne Morton (Ruth Roman). Guy's personal life is known to Bruno because Guy is a sports celebrity.

In real life, of course, anyone with a three digit IQ would simply say to Bruno the madman, "Excuse me," stand up, and walk away. Guy does not, and the movie never offers any interesting reason why Guy loyally sticks by Bruno, as if they were old army buddies and Bruno had once saved Guy's life. This total lack of any plausibility makes the movie boring for the viewer seeking insight into human behavior.

Hitchcock's films are always implausible. No one believes that Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint could really walk across the faces on Mount Rushmore, as they did in "North by Northwest." As Hitchcock liked to point out, "North by Northwest" isn't even a real compass point. The whole point of that movie was not to tell a real story, but to put a very handsome and charismatic star, Cary Grant, in tension-inducing settings, none of which you can ever really believe, but all of which you can enjoy.

With "Strangers on a Train," though, Hitchcock's signature implausibility and style are there, but there's nothing enjoyable to watch on screen – unless – and it is a big unless – you are a misanthrope and a misogynist who harbors murderous tendencies and finds people too stupid to be endured. If you can identify with Bruno, and if you like to fantasize about killing people, and if you think that other people are so stupid that they deserve to be murdered by you, and that they aren't smart enough to realize what you are up to, I think this might be your favorite movie. Guy's complete idiocy would strike you as convincing. That Bruno can all but strangle to death an idiotically smiling and nodding society matron at a black-tie party just a short while after he strangled Guy's wife in an amusement park, a murder that has not yet been solved, and that no police would arrest, or even interrogate Bruno after he strangled this matron, in full view of the important people in town, would strike you as completely believable.

The fun for "Strangers on a Train"'s fans is watching Bad Boy Bruno do bad things and in watching the rest of the population let Bruno get away with doing bad things, because they are too stupid or too passive or too lazy or too bewitched to intervene. You have to have a very dim view of humanity to find that convincing, or even a good time.

An unexpected pleasure in the film: Ruth Roman. Ruth Roman's celebrity has not outlasted her career; even fans of Golden Age movies are unlikely to worship at her shrine, selecting more obvious goddesses like Bette, Joan, Katharine, Greta, or Marilyn. Roman starred mostly in B pictures and no one movie is all hers. She is very beautiful and also quite fascinating here, though, as if visiting from a far better movie.

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13 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Strangely, quite lame

Author: Kyle G from California
26 February 2004

Robert Walker's performance as Bruno Anthony is marvelous and makes the movie worth watching - but that is the only thing positive about this mess of movie.

Some details are just plain forced - such as anything to do with the ornate cigarette lighter that the tennis star originally has with him (even though he "doesn't smoke much".) This lighter plays a pivotal role throughout the movie.

Much of the dialog is bad, particulary the various police detectives and the police chief - and most people have English accents (it takes place in America).

The announcer at the tennis game is so bad he is funny, as is the exaggerated way the crowd watches the game - although I appreciate the effect.

Finally, although I could forgive some of the silliness, the final scene at the amusement park was so ludicrous as to make this movie an unintentional laugher.

Nice thing about the DVD is it has both the US version and UK version. Not a lot of difference, although the absolute final scene that is in the American version makes it a bit better.

Sorry, Hitch, although there were minor moments and a few great shots, to have this movie as #85 or whatever in IMDB's top movies is unrealist.


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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Calls for some suspension of disbelief but pretty good

Author: v_haritha_in from India
2 July 2014

The movie is based on an interesting concept. The law cannot link a murderer to the murder he has committed if a motive cannot be established. Hence, if two strangers want to do away with someone in their lives, they can each commit the murder for the other.

Robert Walker is brilliant as the scheming, conscienceless bad guy. He casts his shadow even on the scenes he is not present in and you never cease to wish him ill. Farley Granger is pretty good as the morally-upright gentleman who falls unwittingly into Walker's trap. His character may appear naive at times but that is the writing. Patricia Hitchcock is charming and brings some much needed cheer to the movie. Ruth Morton, Granger's love interest, is the weak link as she delivers a monotonous performance. Marion Lorne, thought she has only a couple of scenes, leaves a lasting impression as Walker's annoyingly over-indulgent mom.

This movie is by no means flawless. In fact it is full of gaping plot holes and we can guess the ending because it was made the days of Hays Code. However, it is fast paced and does not give us time to linger on the low points for long. We are treated to some very good shots. (We see a murder as reflected on the shades fallen in the grass). The tension is heavy and the characters are believable. It will not hold up to a logical scrutiny but it is a good idea if you are looking for some light entertainment.

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