the fresh films reviews

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Strangers on a Train (1951)

Alfred Hitchcock


Psychological thriller

Farlig reisefølge

101 minutes

Alfred Hitchcock
Raymond Chandler
Czenzi Ormonde
Whitfield Cook
Based on the novel by:
Patricia Highsmith

Cast includes:

Guy Haines Farley Granger ½
Anne Morton Ruth Roman ½
Bruno Antony Robert Walker
Sen. Morton Leo G. Carroll -
Barbara Morton Patricia Hitchcock
Miriam Laura Elliot -
Mrs. Antony Marion Lome -
Mr. Antony Jonathan Hale -



Alfred Hitchcock was at the height of his career when he made this thriller – one of the most Hitchcockesque of all his movies. The idea upon which the crime plot, concocted by the brilliant Patricia Highsmith, is based is so simplistic and universal that it has an inherent elegance: Two men meet on a train and contemplate the idea of "swapping murders". That one of them may take it all a little more seriously than the other creates the basis for the playful perversities that ensue. As with almost all of Hitchcock's movies, the story invites several moral discussions and thematic ambivalences, which the director naturally exploits both narratively and visually. Hitchcock and his cinematographer Robert Burks, who worked together for the first time here, take full advantage of the array of possibilities black-and-white cinematography offers, not least by use of shadows and juxtapositions. These visual hints and suggestions aren't seminal, but they give the story a little extra zest. And they are part and parcel of how Hitchcock ambushes you in his subtle, sneaky way. You cannot help but be taken by Robert Walker's Bruno – even identify with him and his degenerate selfishness. Strangers on a Train is in many ways a much simpler film than other Hitchcock masterpieces such as Vertigo or North by Northwest, but it's a psychological portrait of timeless proportions. A tribute to human debasement, made possible by a wonderful performance from Robert Walker, who reached his zenith here before succumbing to his own demons later the same year.

Re-reviewed: Copyright © 05.03.2021 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang
Original review:
Copyright © 22.02.1998 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang