STRANGERS ON A TRAIN has always been one of my favorite Alfred Hitchcock films and watching it again in its gorgeous Blu-Ray release, confirmed why. It has all the hallmarks of what makes his films so great, packaged together in a great thriller superbly shot and edited for maximum suspense.
Guy Haines (Farely Granger) is a famous tennis pro with a problem. Unhappily married, his wife Miriam (Laura Elliot) is a cheating tramp but she refuses to divorce him so he can marry Ann (Ruth Roman), the woman he truly loves.
In a chance encounter on a train, he meets Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker) who is a big fan. He has a problem of his own; an overbearing father who he’d rather see six feet under. Bruno hatches a plan for the perfect murder. He and Guy should swap kills. This way there would be no links or motives for the killing. “Criss-cross.”
Guy humors Bruno, never thinking he’d actually do it. But when Miriam turns up dead, Bruno insists that Guy keep up his end of the bargain or he’ll make sure he’s framed for his ex-wife’s murder.
The movie belongs to Robert Walker. He portrays Bruno as an enthusiastic psychopath who enjoys his kills as much as he enjoys bending people to his will. He will stop at nothing to get what he wants, but does it with flair and panache. It’s a chilling role done to perfection.
Written by Raymond Chandler and Czenzi Ormonde, the script mixes thriller and darkly comic tones expertly. Coupled with some of Hitchcock’s finest direction, it moves at a steady pace ramping up the tension with such ease to a literally explosive climax.
Hitchcock considered STRANGERS ON THE TRAIN the true start of his Hollywood filmmaking career and though it is not his most famous work, it certainly sets the groundwork for those films that immediately followed, especially NORTH BY NORTHWEST.
This is classic Hitchcock at its finest and a MUST SEE MOVIE for fans of thrillers.