Written by Raymond Chandler and Czenzi Ormonde
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Starring Farley Granger, Ruth Roman and Robert Walker
Bruce Anthony: I admire people who do things.
This is why people avoid making eye contact on the subway today. In Alfred Hitchcock’s STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (1951), two men accidentally bump each other’s feet sitting across from each other on a train, and embark on a conversation that will change their lives. Naturally, they don’t know this at the time. Well, one of them almost certainly doesn’t and it isn’t ever quite clear what the other gentleman is thinking, but that’s the genius of Hitchcock. You can never truly relax into what you think you know because you’ll likely be proven wrong about that before very long.
Based on Patricia Highsmith’s first novel, STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, is a truly disturbing thriller. Two total strangers (Robert Walker and Farley Granger) meet on a train and before they’re done lunch, one of them suggests that each of them commit a murder for the other, to avoid connection to the crime. It may not be your typical train chat but if you can surrender to the idea, and it’s actually quite easy to do so thanks to the colorful performances of Walker and Granger, then you are in for a twisted ride. Walker in particular is especially devious, seamlessly weaving homoerotic subtext and waves of daddy issues into his chilling portrayal.
STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, one of the greatest thrillers of all time according to the American Film Institute, is stunning in its first Blu-ray release. The Oscar-nominated black and white cinematography is particularly impressive, whether you’re admiring the grandness of a championship tennis match or cowering at the climactic merry-go-round sequence. This latest release also contains an earlier version and a commentary track for the final version that consists occasionally of a stretched inclusion but is mostly insight into the mind of the master. This is easily one of Hitchcock’s best and a must for any collection.