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Strangers On A Train

Strangers On A Train

Total Film

December 2004

Link to Article on External Website

Director Alfred Hitchcock
Starring Farley Granger, Ruth Roman, Robert Walker, Leo G. Carroll
Cert PG

Film *****

Forty years before Hannibal Lecter was giving Clarice Starling the heeby-jeebies, Robert Walker created one of the most captivating, debonair screen psychos ever: Bruno Anthony, a fawning playboy who meets clean-cut tennis pro Guy Haines (Farley Granger) on the train and casually suggests they swap murders. If Bruno offs Guy's obnoxious wife Miriam, Guy has to return the favour against Bruno's father. Two motiveless murders equals the perfect crime...

One of Hitchcock's most effective thrillers, this classy, nerve-rattling adap of Patricia Highsmith's novel layers in an audacious-for-the-time gay subtext and ingenious suspense set-pieces. The nearly dialogue-free sequence where Bruno stalks/flirts with Miriam before strangling her in the reflection of her own coke-bottle specs is one of the most spectacular (and weirdly erotic) Hitch ever directed, while the climactic tussle aboard an out-of-control carousel is equally impressive.

Rope star Granger makes an effectively beleaguered lead and the support cast is outstanding. But Strangers belongs to Walker, his Bruno a perfect juxtaposition of preening flamboyance and psychotic wrath. Chew on that, Hannibal.

There are two cuts included here: the 97-minute theatrical release and the 103-minute, so-called “British version” - actually a preview cut which, apart from an alternate, schmaltzy ending, is virtually identical. The commentary is a spliced-together affair featuring about a dozen Hitch aficionados, including film historian Richard Schickel and Psycho screenwriter Joseph Stephano. As a gabfest, it's pretty distracting, although Peter Bogdanovich's taped conversations with Hitchcock are good value.The best extra by far here is the superb 37-minute Making Of. There's also some silent newsreel footage and three other short but solid featurettes - An Appreciation By M Night Shyamalan (does what it says on the tin), family tribute The Hitchcocks On Hitch and The Victim's POV, an interesting peek at the life of the contract player who played Miriam. A slick package.

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