“Isn’t it a fascinating design? One could study it forever,” Hitchcock remarked to Francois Truffaut of the elaborately structured Strangers on a Train, whose series of doubling motifs transform the film’s twinned protagonists into doppelgängers caught in a dance of death.
Strangers opens on an NYC-bound train, where a tennis star, Guy (Farley Granger), who wants out of his unhappy marriage, strikes up a conversation with a charming psychopath named Bruno (Robert Walker). Bruno has family issues of his own and offers his new friend the opportunity to solve both of their problems: they can swap murders. Bruno will murder Guy’s wife if Guy will return the favor and eliminate Bruno’s interfering father. Strangers features some of Hitchcock’s most memorable set pieces — including a fiendishly elegant tennis match and a climactic “chase scene” on a runaway carousel. Those of you watching the US Open might think that tennis players today are under a lot of pressure, but they have it easy. Only after watching Strangers on a Train, will you understand what real pressure is.
1951 | 106 min