Friday, June 28, 2013

Strangers on a Train(1950).

Strangers on a Train(1950). Psychological thriller produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, based on the 1950 novel of the same name by Patricia Highsmith. Cast: Farley Granger, Ruth Roman and Robert Walker featuring: Leo G. Carroll, Patricia Hitchcock and Laura Elliott.

While traveling by train, socialite, mamas boy Bruno Antony recognizes the famous tennis player Guy Haines and they pass the time together eating pork chops. While using Guy's cigarette lighter, Bruno notices it is inscribed "From A to G," and guesses that "A" is Senator Morton's daughter Anne, whom Guy intends to marry after his divorce from Miriam. Bruno, then shares with Guy how much he hates his father and suggests a plan for a perfect murder... two strangers, who each want someone killed, swap murders. In that way, each has murdered a perfect stranger and is unlikely to be caught. Bruno, then suggests... he could kill Miriam and Guy would kill Bruno's father in return. Believing Bruno is only joking, Guy agrees and gets off the the train at his stop in Metcalf, leaving behind his lighter on the train.

Guy, wastes no time getting to the music store where his wife Miriam works. There, Miriam informs him that she is pregnant with another man's baby, but has no intention of divorcing him. In front of everyone, they get into a heated argument and soon after, Guy calls Anne and yells that he would like to "strangle his wife".

After arriving home Bruno, overhears his father threaten to institutionalize him and decides he better go ahead with his plans.


After traveling to Metcalf by bus, he follows Miriam and her two boyfriends through an amusement park and when Bruno's strangles Miriam, it is shown in her eyeglass lens.

While all this is going on, Guy is on the train to Washington, D.C. with the only other passenger an extremely drunk, Prof. Collins.

Later, Guy runs into Bruno outside his home, who informs him of Miriam's murder and shows him her eyeglasses as proof. When Guy threatens to call the police, Bruno convinces him that the police will not believe him and now expects Guy to complete his part of the "bargain." Guy is called to Senator Morton's home, where Morton informs him of Miriam's death. Hoping the drunk Collins will give him an alibi, but Collins says that he does not remember him from that night on the train.

The police department assign police detective Hennessey, to keep an eye on him. Bruno sends Guy a map of his father's bedroom, a key to the house and a gun. Anne, who has become concerned by Guy's strange behavior, confronts him. He finally admits to her that Bruno killed Miriam and tells her about their meeting on the train. Guy, comes up with a plan of his own, then telephones Bruno and tells him that he will kill his father that night. He uses the key to enter the Antony house, intending to tell Antony everything. The not so dumb Bruno, suspecting Guy's motives, is waiting for him in his father's room.

The following day, Anne goes to visit Bruno's very odd mother, who insists that Bruno must be playing a practical joke. Before Anne leaves, Bruno informs her that Guy really killed Miriam and offers as proof Guy's lighter that he dropped at the scene of the crime.

Guy, now realizes that Bruno plans to use his lighter to frame him for his wife's murder. Guy is scheduled to play in a tennis tournament in Washington, D.C., but believing that Bruno will plant the lighter after dark. In order to reach Metcalf before Bruno, Guy must win the tournament in three sets. Meanwhile, Bruno arrives in Metcalf and accidentally drops the lighter down a storm drain. After recovering the lighter, Bruno heads for the amusement park. Guy wins the final match and while Barbara distracts Hennessey and his partner Hammond, Guy jumps into a cab headed for the train station.

In Metcalf, the police, stake out the park. Bruno blends into the crowed of people waiting for the tunnel-of-love boat to the island, but is recognized. Guy arrives just as a man points out Bruno to the police and the police mistakenly believe that the operator has identified Guy as the killer. Will the police ever figure out that it was Bruno that was there on the night of the murder and clear Guy?

Strangers on a Train, is one of Hitch's best films and the fairground finale is very exciting and will have you sitting on the edge of your seat. The music score sets the mood for the entire film..

Alfred Hitchcock's cameo appearance in this movie occurs 11 minutes into the film. He is seen carrying a double bass as he climbs onto the train.

Fun Facts from Wikipedia:

Hitchcock, originally wanted William Holden for the Guy Haines role, but Holden declined.

Warner Bros. wanted their own stars, already under contract and when casting the character Anne Morton, Jack Warner got what he wanted when he assigned Ruth Roman, over Hitchcock's objections. The director found her "bristling" and "lacking in sex appeal". Roman became the target of Hitchcock's scorn throughout the production. Granger diplomatically describes it as Hitchcock's "disinterest" in the actress and said he saw Hitchcock treat Edith Evanson the same way on the set of Rope (1948). "He had to have one person in each film he could harass", Granger said. Kasey Rogers, had perfect vision at the time the movie was made, but Hitchcock insisted she wear the character's thick eyeglasses, even in long shots when regular glass lenses would have been undetectable. Rogers was effectively blind with the glasses on and needed to be guided by the other actors. In one scene, she can be seen dragging her hand along a table as she walks, this was in order for her to keep track of where she was.

Robert Burks considered his fourteen years with Hitch the best of his career: "You never have any trouble with him as long as you know your job and do it. Hitchcock insists on perfection. He has no patience with mediocrity on the set. Robert Burks received Strangers on a Train's sole Academy Award nomination for its black and white photography.

Hitchcock himself designed Bruno's lobster necktie, which was a gift from his mother. This gift is appropriate since Bruno wants to use his hands like a lobster and strangle his mother. Later in the film Bruno will use his hands in this way when he strangles Miriam.

Hitchcock also showed intense interest in a seldom-considered detail of character delineation: Food. "Preferences in food characterize people..." Hitchcock said. "I have always given it careful consideration, so that my characters never eat out of character. Bruno orders with gusto and with an interest in what he is going to eat — lamb chops, French fries, and chocolate ice cream. A very good choice for train food. And the chocolate ice cream is probably what he thought about first. Bruno is rather a child. Guy, on the other hand, shows little interest in eating the lunch, apparently having given it no advance thought, in contrast to Bruno, and he merely orders what seems his routine choice, a hamburger and coffee."

One of the most memorable single shots in the Hitchcock canon — it "is studied by film classes", says Laura Elliott, who played Miriam—is her character's strangulation by Bruno on the Isle of Love. "In one of the most unexpected, most aesthetically justified moments in film," the slow, almost graceful, murder is shown as a reflection in the victim's eyeglasses, which have been jarred loose from her head and dropped to the ground. The unusual angle was a more complex proposition than it seems. First Hitchcock got the exterior shots in Canoga Park, using both actors, then later he had Elliott alone report to a sound-stage where there was a large concave reflector set on the floor. The camera was on one side of the reflector, Elliott was on the other, and Hitchcock directed Elliott to turn her back to the reflector and "float backwards, all the way to the floor... like you were doing the limbo." The first six takes went badly—Elliott thudded to the floor with several feet yet to go—but on the seventh take, she floated smoothly all the way. Hitchcock's even-strained response: "Cut. Next shot." Hitchcock then had the two elements "ingeniously" double printed, yielding a shot of "oddly appealing originality with a stark fusion of the grotesque and the beautiful.... The anesthetizing of the horror somehow enables the audience to contemplate more fully its reality."


Into the Tunnel of Love he follows the threesome, in a boat named Pluto, the Roman god of the underworld The explosion is triggered by the attempts of a carnival man to stop the ride after crawling under the whirling carousel deck to get to the controls in the center. Although Hitchcock admitted to under cranking the shot, it was not a trick shot: the man actually had to crawl under the spinning ride, just inches from possible injury. "Hitchcock told me that this scene was the most personally frightening moment for him in any of his films", writes biographer Charlotte Chandler. "The man who crawled under the out-of-control carousel was not an actor or a stuntman, but a carousel operator who volunteered for the job. 'If the man had raised his head even slightly", Hitchcock said, "it would have gone from being a suspense film into a horror film."



Composer Dimitri Tiomkin was Jack Warner's  music choice to score Strangers on a Train. While he had previous Hitchcock experience on 1943's Shadow of a Doubt and would go on to score two more consecutive Hitch films, director and composer "simply never developed much of a kinship" and "the Hitchcock films are not Tiomkin's best. Nevertheless, the score does pick up on the ubiquitous theme of doubles — often contrasting doubles — right from the opening title sequence: "The first shot — two sets of male shoes, loud versus conservative, moving toward a train — carries a gruff bass motif set against Gershwin-like riffs, a two-part medley called "Strangers" and "Walking" that is never heard again." The powerful music accurately underscores the visuals of that title sequence — the massive granite edifice of New York's Pennsylvania Station, standing in for Washington's Union Station—because it was scored for an unusually large orchestra, including alto, tenor and baritone saxes, three clarinets, four horns, three pianos and a novachord. Hitchcock and Burks collaborated on ingenious double printing technique to create iconic shot still studied in film schools today. Tiomkin's contrasting musical themes continue throughout the film, delineating two characters with substantial differences: "For 'Guy's Theme', Tiomkin created a hesitant, passive idea, made-to-order music for Farley Granger's performance. Bruno, who tells Guy on the train that he admires people "who do things", gets a more vigorous musical treatment from Tiomkin: "Harmonic complexity defines the motifs associated with Bruno: rumbling bass, shocking clusters, and glassy string harmonics. These disturbing sounds, heard to superb effect in cues such as 'The Meeting,' 'Senator's Office,' and 'Jefferson Memorial,' are not just about Bruno, but about how he is perceived by those whose lives he crosses—first Guy, then everyone in Guy's entourage." But perhaps the most memorable music in Strangers is the calliope music heard first at the fairground and again, later, when Bruno is strangling Mrs. Cunningham at Senator Morton's soiree and experiences his unfortunate flashback and subsequent fainting spell. It was Hitchcock, not Tiomkin, whose idea brought the four evocative numbers — "The Band Played On", "Carolina in the Morning", "Oh, You Beautiful Doll", and "Baby Face" — to the soundtrack: In one of Hitchcock's most explicit operatic gestures, the characters at the fateful carnival sing the score, giving it full dimension as part of the drama. In a conventional movie, the tune would play in the background as a clever ironic backdrop. But Hitchcock takes music to another level. Miriam and the two boyfriends in her odd ménage à trois bring "The Band Played On" to life by singing it on the merry-go-round, lustily and loudly... Grinning balefully on the horse behind them, Bruno then sings it himself, making it his motto. The band plays on through Bruno's stalking of his victim and during the murder itself, blaring from the front of the screen, then receding into the darkness as an eerie obbligato when the doomed Miriam enters the Tunnel of Love. "The Band Played On" makes its final reprise during Guy's and Bruno's fight on the merry-go-round, even itself shifting to a faster tempo and higher pitch when the policeman's bullet hits the ride operator and sends the carousel into its frenzied hyper-drive.

The film includes a number of puns and visual metaphors that demonstrate a running theme of crisscross, double-crossing and crossing one's double. Bruno can be viewed as Guy's dark double. The pair has what writer Peter Dellolio refers to as a "dark symbiosis. "Bruno embodies Guy's dark desire to kill Miriam, a "real-life incarnation of Guy's wish-fulfillment fantasy".

The theme of doubles is "the key element in the film," Hitchcock uses: two taxicabs, two redcaps, two pairs of feet, two sets of train rails that cross twice. Once on the train, Walker orders a pair of double drinks, "The only kind of doubles I play". In Hitchcock's cameo he carries a double bass. There are two respectable and influential fathers, two women with eyeglasses, two women at a party who delight in thinking up ways of committing the perfect crime. There are two sets of two detectives in two cities, two little boys at the two strips to the fairground, two old men at the carousel, two boyfriends with the woman about to be murdered and two Hitchcocks in the film.

Hitchcock carries the theme even further, crosscutting between Guy and Bruno with words and gestures: one asks the time and the other, miles away, looks at his watch; one says in anger "I could strangle her!" and the other, far distant, makes a choking gesture.

Even though Guy and Bruno are in some ways doubles, but in many more ways, they are opposites. The two sets of feet in the title sequence match each other in motion, but they establish immediately the contrast between the two men: the first shoes "showy, vulgar brown-and-white brogues, the second, plain, unadorned walking shoes."

They also demonstrate Hitchcock's gift for deft visual storytelling: For most of the film, Bruno is the actor, Guy the reactor and Hitchcock always shows Bruno's feet first, then Guy's. And since it is Guy's foot that taps Bruno's under the table, we know Bruno has not engineered the meeting. Roger Ebert writes that "it is this sense of two flawed characters — one evil, one weak, that makes the movie intriguing and halfway plausible and explains how Bruno could come so close to carrying out his plan."

Hitchcock, was very talented at blurring the lines between good and evil in his films. In this film Guy, represents the life where people play by the rules, while Bruno is thrown out of multiple colleges for drinking and gambling. Yet "both men are insecure and uncertain of their futures: Guy, does not know whether to continue on with his tennis career or go into politics. He also can not decide between his tramp of a wife or the senator's daughter. Bruno is trying to establish his identity through violent actions and a flamboyant life style.

Bruno tells Guy: "I certainly admire people who do things". "Me, I never do anything important." Bruno, then describes his "theories" over lunch.

As Guy listens to Bruno we see it in his face, the blurring of good and evil. Guy fails to refuse Bruno's suggestive statement about murdering Miriam, "What's a life or two? Some people are better off dead." Video:

"When Bruno suggests he would like to kill Guy's wife, he merely grins and says 'That's a morbid thought," but we get the idea he would not mind if she were out of his life for good. When he leaves behind his cigarette lighter they are now tied together...

Patricia Hitchcock O'Connell (born 7 July 1928), was born in London as the only child of film director Alfred Hitchcock and film editor Alma Reville.

In the early 1940's, she began acting on the stage and doing summer stock. Her father helped her gain a role in the Broadway production of Solitaire (1942).

She also acted in Violet (1944).

After graduating from Marymount High School in Los Angeles in 1947, she attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and also appeared on the London stage.

In early 1949, her parents arrived in London to make Stage Fright, Hitchcock's first British-made feature film since emigrating to Hollywood. Pat did not know she would have a walk-on part in the film until her parents arrived. Because she bore a resemblance to the star, Jane Wyman, her father asked if she would mind also doubling for Wyman in the scenes that required "danger driving".

She had small roles in three of her father's films: Stage Fright (1950), in which she played a jolly acting student named Chubby Bannister, one of Wyman's school chums Strangers on a Train (1951), playing Barbara Morton, future sister-in-law of Guy Haines (Farley Granger) and Psycho (1960), playing Janet Leigh's plain-Jane office mate, Caroline, who generously offers to share tranquilizers that her mother gave her for her wedding night.

Hitchcock also worked for Jean Negulesco on The Mudlark (1950), which starred Irene Dunne and Alec Guinness, playing a palace maid, and she had a bit-part in DeMille's The Ten Commandments. As well as appearing in ten episodes of her father's half-hour television programme, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Hitchcock worked on a few others, including Playhouse 90, which was live, directed by John Frankenheimer.

Acting for her father, however, remained the high point of her acting career, which she interrupted to bring up her children. (Hitchcock has a small joke with her first appearance on his show – after saying good night and exiting the screen, he sticks his head back into the picture and remarks: "I thought the little leading lady was rather good, didn't you?") She also served as executive producer of the documentary The Man on Lincoln's Nose (2000), which is about Robert F. Boyle and his contribution to films.

She married Joseph E. O'Connell, Jr., 17 January 1952, at Our Lady Chapel in St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York. They decided to have their wedding there because Pat had many friends on the East Coast and Joe had relatives in Boston. They have three daughters, Mary Alma Stone (born 17 April 1953), Teresa "Tere" Carrubba (born 2 July 1954) and Kathleen "Katie" Fiala (born 27 February 1959).

She supplied family photos and wrote the foreword of the book Footsteps in the Fog: Alfred Hitchcock's San Francisco by Jeff Kraft and Aaron Leventhal, which was published in 2002.

In 2003, she published Alma Hitchcock: The Woman Behind the Man, co-written with Laurent Bouzereau.

She is an annual major sponsor of the Menlo Charity Horse Show.


  1. This is one of Hitchcock's darker films. The premise is truly extraordinary and, as always, Hitch's attention to detail is perfection. The amusement park sequence is what I always remember about this.

  2. I can not believe how much detail Hitch puts into his films...


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