Strangers on a Train (1951)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Strangers on a Train</strong> (1951)

(On Cable TV, January 2018) I’m still working my way through the Hitchcock filmography, and while I think that most of his classics are from the late fifties, there are still quite a few good movies from outside that timeframe. The case in point here is 1951’s Stranger on a Train, a tense and non-nonsense (yet deceptively layered) thriller in which two strangers meet and don’t quite agree to swap murders. The problems come when one of the two men does his part of the deal he thought he had … and then comes to collect. Shot in striking film-noir black-and-white, it’s a much-better-than-competent work from an acknowledged master of the form. Farley Granger and Robert Walker are good in the lead roles, but the star here is Hitchcock and the script, which steadily tightens the screws on the lead character with ever-increasing complications. The climax, set on a park carrousel, works well as a final set-piece, but the fun of the film is in seeing the walls close in on the lead character. Old but still a model for suspense films, Strangers on a Train is still worth a look—it doesn’t quite measure up to Hitchcock’s masterpieces, but it’s a solid film in its own right.

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