Blog Directory CineVerse: A closer look at Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train"

A closer look at Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train"

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Yesterday, CineVerse screened and discussed Strangers on a Train, Alfred Hitchcock’s wonderfully twisted and disquieting rumination on man’s dual nature.

The film stars Farley Granger as Guy Haines, a tennis pro married to Miriam, a bespectacled floozy (portrayed by an underrated Kasey Rogers), and Robert Walker as the comically insidious Bruno Antony. Bruno meets Guy on a train trip and tries to convince the athlete into committing the perfect crime by swapping murders: Bruno will kill the adulterous Mrs. Haines (so that Guy can marry the senator’s beautiful daughter) in exchange for Guy offing Bruno’s much loathed father. It takes two to tango, however, and Guy doesn’t want to engage in this dastardly dance macabre.

What lingers about Strangers on a Train and sets it a cut above most Hitchcock pictures is its intricate, brooding and devilishly delightful doppelganger protagonist Bruno—played with a suave, nuanced charm that’s brilliantly contrasted with fierce criminal passion by Walker. As he enjoyed doing in many features, Hitchcock creates a fascinating Freudian relationship between the Oedipally conflicted son (Bruno) and his oddball mother. There’s also a hint of homoeroticism in Bruno’s manner and gaze toward Guy, which would have incited the ire of 1950s-era censors if the picture was in the hands of a less crafty filmmaker.

The movie’s disturbing and unforgettable centerpiece scene is, of course, Bruno stalking the ever-flirtatious Miriam during a carnival, particularly the tunnel of love sequence and what comes after, as reflected through one of the warped lens of the cheating spouse’s wayward eyeglasses. It’s an ingenious shot if there ever was one.

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