Strangers on a Train (1951)

strangers on a train poster 1951 movie hitchcock
9.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great classic Hitchcock

Wraps up a little too quickly at the end

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Strangers on a Train

Studio:  Warner Bros.

Genre(s):  Mystery/Suspense/Drama/Romance

Release Date(s):  June 30, 1951

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

Meet Cute = MURDER!?!

Guy Haines (Farley Granger) is a professional tennis player with dreams of a political career.  He’s in love with the daughter of a politician named Anne Morton (Ruth Roman)…but married to Miriam (Laura Elliott) a cheating, greedy woman bent on destroying him.  When he has a chance encounter with a man named Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker) on a train, Bruno proposes he’ll kill Mariam if Guy kills his father.  When Bruno goes through with the murder, Guy becomes an immediate suspect.  With Bruno holding all the cards, Guy must decide if he’ll murder Bruno’s father or find a way to stop Bruno.

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Strangers on a Train is a mystery suspense thriller.  Following Hitchcock’s Stage Fright in 1950, the movie is an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel.  The film received mixed reviews upon its release, but now is often considered one of his better films and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography—Black and White.  The set-up was also the basis for the 1987 comedy Throw Momma from the Train.  The film was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2021.

strangers on a train bruno kills miriam glasses reflection

A reflection of….MURDER!?!

I really like Strangers on a Train.  The movie has such a sense of class and style.  I’m a sucker for Hitchcock so I have a hard time being rough on any of his films…even the bad ones, but this one is easy to like because it is quite enjoyable in plot, acting, and look.

Patricia Highsmith writes a good story because she really layers it with great characters in a compelling story.  The film is credited to another famous writer in Raymond Chandler, but in actuality, Czenzi Ormonde mostly wrote the script.  Like Highsmith’s other creation Tom Ripley, Bruno Antony has a strange homosexual interest in Guy that is implied, but not acted upon (smart viewers could not have missed it, but due to the period could not be said).  This undercurrent theme helps even intensify the script and makes the end “battle” and death more intense.

Unlike some of Hitchcock’s other films, Granger and Walker weren’t as big of stars as someone like a James Stewart or Cary Grant.  Still Granger and Walker both really hold the movie.  Granger had previously starred in Hitchcock’s Rope, and sadly Walker died later in 1951 at the age of 32.  Supporting Granger and Walker is the perfectly nasty Laura Elliott as the evil cheating wife and the perfectly loyal Ruth Roman as Guy’s new love.  Hitchcock’s daughter Patricia Hitchcock takes a rather large role in this one as the “plucky” character Barbara Morton and Barbara and Anne’s father is played by classic character actor Leo G. Carroll.

strangers on a train merry go round fight ending carousel

Merry-Go-Round Broke Down…in MURDER!?!

Strangers on a Train also has some memorable Hitchcockian moments.  Be it the murder of Miriam which is reflected in her glasses when have been knocked off her face or the fun, back-and-forth tennis match (which mirrors the cat-and-mouse game played by Guy and Bruno), Hitchock has style.  The climatic merry-go-round fight is rather intense considering the status of special effects at the time, and Hitchcock himself later said he wouldn’t have put the man in danger of actually crawling underneath it if he shot it again.

Strangers on a Train is definitely worth seeking out.  It is a classic and worthy of the title of classic.  The movie is fun, smart, and still thrilling.  It does suffer the classic Hitchcock “wrap-up” that is maybe a bit too smooth and easy, but it still is worth the ride.  Hitchcock followed Strangers on a Train with I Confess in 1953.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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