July Issue 2015
Classic Film Review: Strangers on a Train
Bruno Anthony has a theory: if two men murder two strangers, the murderers can never be caught since no motive can be established between each man and his victim. This is the premise of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1951 classic, Strangers on a Train.
The promising tennis player, Guy Haines (Farley Granger), is befriended by the silver-tongued man seated opposite him on a train, Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker). The conversation that ensues is absurd and sinister.
Anthony happens to know everything about the star’s professional and personal life, and according to him, at heart, every man is a murderer. Everyone knows at least one person they would love to kill; the only thing stopping them is the fear of getting caught. Anthony tells Haines that the tennis star’s ultimate murder fantasy would be his wife, Miriam, whose refusal to give Haines a divorce is preventing him from marrying his true love. Anthony, on the other hand, would love to kill his father, who “hates” him. If Anthony kills Miriam and Haines kills Anthony’s father, according to Anthony, neither will be caught.
The plot thickens when Haines learns that his wife has actually been murdered. He must then avoid both the police and Anthony, because the latter believes the two men have an agreement and will make sure that Haines keeps his end of the bargain at any cost. When Haines tries to confront Anthony’s father about his son, Anthony promises to destroy Haines — his career, his image — and then take his life.
Robert Walker is superb in his portrayal of a man who teeters on the boundary between ‘normality’ and insanity. Bruno Anthony isn’t mad, but he isn’t entirely normal either. The plot unfolds at a fast pace, and leaves one breathless in anticipation of what will happen next.