A tennis star finds himself embroiled in a murder swap with a smooth-talking psychopath, in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller.
“Isn’t it a fascinating design? One could study it forever,” Hitchcock remarked to Truffaut of the elaborately structured Strangers on a Train, whose series of doubling motifs transform the twinned protagonists into doppelgängers caught in a dance of death. Deemed by Truffaut a “spectacular comeback” for Hitchcock after the consecutive failures of Under Capricorn and Stage Fright, Strangers opens on a NYC-bound train, where tennis star Guy (Farley Granger), who wants out of his unhappy marriage, encounters charming psychopath Bruno (Robert Walker), who offers him a coolly unhinged plan to accomplish just that: Bruno will murder Guy’s wife if Guy will do away with Bruno’s troublesome dad, so that Bruno can have his mollycoddling mama all to himself. (The hints of homosexuality in Patricia Highsmith’s novel get deliciously amplified in the film.) Featuring some of the Master’s most famous set pieces — including a Tatiesque tennis match, a cigarette lighter that resists disappearing down a grate, and a murder reflected in the victim’s eyeglasses — and culminating with the mad music of a runaway carousel, Strangers is “a first-rate thriller … usually ranked among Hitchcock’s best” (Roger Ebert).
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