Quick recap: Guy is a tennis star who hates his wife. Bruno is a creepo that hates his father. When the two meet ( as strangers, on a train), Bruno decides that it would be fun if the two could switch places and murder whom the other hates.
Fun (?) fact: Alfred Hitchcock wanted the character of Bruno to be gay but that wasn’t really something you could say back then. Instead, he and Robert Walker worked together to suggest Bruno’s homosexuality with elaborate gestures and fancy clothes without having to actually point it out.
My thoughts: Strangers on a Train just might be my favorite Hitchcock film. It’s not his best, but I had the most fun watching it. Everyone knows Hitchcock for his horror films, but I much prefer film-noir Hitchcock, where he can put his dark humor to good use.
There is a lot to love about this movie, but it’s the film techniques Hitchcock uses that make Strangers on a Train so stunning. I know there are technical terms for all the camera work but I’m not even going to pretend I have a clue what I’m talking about here and just say it was really, really, really……good. There were many scenes with Bruno where he was just off in the distance, but the perspective made him seem so much more formidable. My favorite example of this was during the tennis match, where the audience moved their heads back and forth to watch the ball, while Bruno’s gaze was fixed squarely on Guy. It was beyond creepy. The scene in which Miriam is murdered is also amazing. Hitchcock somehow filmed the encounter through the perspective of Miriam’s glasses that were knocked to the grass when Bruno grabbed her.
The dialogue and acting were top notch and although it was a very dark movie, there were many scenes that made me laugh. Like Shadow of a Doubt, many of the characters casually talk about murder and gruesome ways of dying as if it is a common hobby to do so. Which it kind of is? There has always been a fascination with that sort of thing so although it seems off-putting, it’s something we all do. As for the murder itself, I never really understood why Guy could never go to the police and explain what happened. There didn’t seem to be a lot of evidence, and it’s not like the police leading the investigation came from Manitowoc County (I’m topical!) so they probably would’ve been reasonable. The ending also seemed to be wrapped up a little too neatly. One second Guy was the number one suspect and the next second his name is cleared completely. Granted, there wasn’t much of a case to begin with but it was definitely a weak spot in an otherwise enjoyable film to have it all dropped so quickly.
Final review: 4/5
Up next: Storm over Asia