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USA 1951
Directed by
Alfred Hitchcock
101 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Strangers On A Train

Hitchcock fans usually rate this film highly, justifiably seeing in it The Master's break from the overbearing Hollywood studio system, in particular, the influence of David Selznick, and a return to his more authentic pre-1940, location-based approach.If you are a fan of that style Strangers On A Train will please but although there are certainly some distinctive Hitchcockian moments, to my taste this is a somewhat laboured film (including the famous fairground scene).

Based on the first novel by Patricia Highsmith (and co-scripted by Raymond Chandler), the film has a suggestive sexual ambiance which is thoroughly Hitchcockian (Highsmith was a devotee of Sapphic love) and even more perversely, Hitch's daughter, Patricia, plays Barbara, who becomes a kind of surrogate victim in the mind of the deeply confused killer, Bruno (Robert Walker).

The British print of this film, which is almost 2 minutes longer and has a different ending is less veiled about about Bruno's homosexual attraction to the uncompliant Guy. Walker had a nervous breakdown shortly after filming was completed and died of an accidental overdose of tranquilizers. (Close-ups from this film were used to finish Walker's final film My Son John (unseen)). Hitch's cameraman on this, Robert Burks, would be with him for his next nine films.

: Danny De Vito directed a so-so black comedic re-working of this with Throw Momma From The Train (1987) with himself and Billy Crystal in the leads.




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