Movie Review: Strangers on a Train (1951)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1951 Alfred Hitchcock film starring Farley Granger and Robert Walker.

Synopsis: While traveling home by train, a successful amateur tennis player and aspiring politician shares a drink with a man he just met and is offered an opportunity to have his adulterous wife murdered in exchange for killing the other man's father. He chooses not to go along with the plan but, the stranger murders his wife anyway and threatens to frame him if he doesn't follow through with his end of the deal.

Review

My wife and daughters our out of town visiting family for a few days so I decided to use my alone time getting caught up on some black-and-white films I know she wouldn't be interested in watching with me. That included this film, which I've wanted to see for some time and found on Netflix. Overall, I was happy with this choice.

I think the thing that intrigued me most about this movie was Walker's character Bruno Anthony. I loved how Hitchcock made him a less-than-perfect bad guy in the film.

In particular, I liked how Anthony starts out very calm and cool about his murder, even taking the time to hold onto something he could frame Guy Haines (Granger) with, but quickly begins to succumb to madness not long after, especially when he realizes one of Haines' acquaintances looks a lot like the woman he murdered. He was following Guy around in an effort to guilt him into carrying out what he was demanding but, at the same time, was making himself look pretty darn suspicious.

In fact, I thought it was brilliant how Anthony seemed to think he got away with the perfect crime despite having witnesses seeing him before and after the murder and other witnesses seeing him trying to retrieve Guy's cigarette lighter (which he planned to use to frame him) from a storm sewer. I wasn't sure if he was insane to the point he didn't notice or egotistical to the point he thought it didn't matter.

I think my only real problem with this movie was the somewhat weak effort Guy made to prove he was nowhere near his wife when she was murdered. Sure, he was able to name the guy that was on the train with him and that guy was too drunk to remember him. But, didn't someone sell him a ticket or check the ticket when he got on the train? Surely, there had to be someone else who saw him. But, to be fair, if that were the case, then this movie wouldn't have been as good as it was.

Final Opinion

Largely because of Walker's performance, this movie wound up being an interesting film to watch. I would highly recommend taking the time to do so if you get a chance.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 06/14/2019, StevenHelmer
 
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