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Farley Granger, Robert Walker, Strangers on a Train (1951)

In directing and producing “Strangers on a Train”, Alfred Hitchcock was inspired by such films like “Rome Express” and “Shanghai Express”. Despite its many flaws – and one of them is represented by the actors in the leading roles – the film has a good, interesting story, with some entertaining scenes. How would you feel about getting chased by a madman who, above all, is a cold-blooded criminal? But even more than that, how would you feel if the man would want you to commit a murder for him? The film shows all of this, and the plot involves a professional tennis player who wants to get rid of his wife to marry a senator’s daughter, and whose reputation gets compromised by his ill-fated meeting on a train with a psychotic socialite. The maniac proposes him to switch murders between them, so that he would do him “a favour” by killing his wife and he, the tennis player, would in return kill the madman’s tyrannical father – who, in fact, wasn’t a tyrant at all, because he wanted to commit his son to a sanitarium for his mental disease. Both the son and his mother are eccentric characters and their strange behaviour reveals their unbalanced nature. The story of the film gets complicated as soon as the wife of Guy Haines, the tennis player, is strangled by Bruno Antony, the madman, in one of the most impressive scenes in the film. Hitchcock created a special atmosphere in the sequences at the fair and the murder of the girl by the Tunnel of Love is memorable as well. Despite the good points, Hitchcock directed some long and artificially climaxed scenes, especially the ones with the tennis matches of Haines. There were times when I felt I was watching a sports programme instead of a thriller. Totally atypical to the hitchcockian suspensful style, but it was, somehow, effective to the present film. “Strangers on a Train” is very much overrated, as it is commented and extensively exhibited on different cinematic occasions, such as film festivals and cinema album releases and other publications. It received an Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography and it’s worth watching, at least just for having fun. But, above all, it conveys an important lesson: that we should never keep secrets, because one day these secrets might turn against us, especially when the beloved ones could become the innocents victims of the case.

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