Bruno Antony thinks he has the perfect plot to rid himself of his hated father, and when he meets tennis player Guy Haines on a train he thinks he's found the partner he needs to pull it off. His plan is relatively simple: Two strangers each agree to kill someone the other person wants gone. For example, Guy could kill his father and he could get rid of Guy's wife Miriam, freeing him to marry Anne Morton, the beautiful daughter of a U.S. Senator. Guy dismisses it all out of hand, but Bruno goes ahead with his half of the "bargain" and disposes of Miriam. When Guy balks, Bruno makes it clear that he will plant evidence to implicate Guy in her murder if he doesn't get rid of his father. Guy had also made some unfortunate statements about Miriam after she had refused to divorce him. It all leads the police to believe Guy is responsible for the murder, forcing him to deal with Bruno's mad ravings.Written by
Oh! You Beautiful Doll
Music by Nat Ayer
Played when Bruno is helping the blind man cross the street
Also played when the police arrive during the last amusement park scene See more »
Alfred Hitchcock takes everything good about Patricia Highsmith's novel, and butchers it
A tale that was originally about moral ambiguity and the blending of two personalities has been reduced to a one dimensional, predictable and frankly ridiculous (out of control merry go round? really?) film. Not only is the story boring, but the characters lack depth or likeability. Hitchcock completely missed the entire point of Strangers On A Train - a disturbing yet skilful novel that once stressed the thin line between good and evil is reduced to a typical good vs evil bore that isn't ambitious in the slightest.
The thing that bothered me the most was definitely the characterisation of the protagonist, Guy. From the beginning he's a kind, normal tennis player who would never consider murder. He's a stereotypical "nice guy", who gets everything he wants at the end of the film, and appears to suffer no physical or mental damage from the events that have happened to him. He has no character development at all, no real depth, and his actions are predictable as hell. Everything that made him an interesting character in the original novel has been destroyed. His original career in architecture, for example, which he believes brings him closer to God, was replaced by bloody tennis. Tennis? How does that contribute to the plot at all? His breakdown throughout the novel by Bruno that leads Guy to murder and eventually ruins his life, too, is shattered. The Guy in Hitchcock's movie doesn't resemble the conflicted, messed up character shown in Highsmith's novel and is a complete disappointment.
Bruno, too, lacks the obsessive, disgusting nature shown in the novel. No, he is just yet another villain who only cares about murder and would do anything to have it. Anne, while sweet and witty, does not have the strong mindedness that Highsmith's character did. Other characters were just there as plot devices, and their relationships were empty.
The love/hate relationship between Bruno and Guy that is an extremely important aspect of Strangers On A Train is replaced by an indifference between both characters. There is no real chemistry between them, and no clear build up of tension that leads to the fight on the merry go round at the end of the film. "Bruno is using Guy, and Guy doesn't want to be used". This is as far as Hitchcock will take their relationship - he completely ignores the way Bruno is obsessed with Guy or that Guy secretly feels he and Bruno are the same person. The original novel clearly raised a moral debate that Hitchcock didn't want to explore
The film introduces important plot points without ever dealing with them. Why mirror Bruno and Guy in the first place if you're going to present them as completely different people? What is the point of introducing Bruno's father if Guy isn't going to kill him anyway, and is going to stick to his guns the entire time?
In conclusion, this film has no real complexity and I'm sure that anyone who praises it lacks understanding of the point of the original novel. On its own it's a mediocre thriller with stereotypical characters and a better ending, but when compared with the true ambiguity and brilliance of the original novel, it falls flat. A tale of insanity, murder, moral ambiguity and guilt deserves much better than this
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