Strangers on a Train (rewatch)
Posted by martinteller on February 26, 2012
The fact this isn’t one of my favorite Hitchcocks doesn’t make it a bad film, it’s just that there are so many others that I like more. The main problem with it is Farley Granger. Even in good films he’s usually the weakest element, and the only role I’ve thought he was really good in was They Live By Night. He’s just so pouty, with that hangdog expression of his and that slightly pathetic twinge in his voice. He always seems like he’s about to cry “It’s not fair!” and go sulk in a corner somewhere. I would also say the middle of the film is a tad sluggish, although frequently spiced up by appearances from our antagonist.
Which brings us to one of the film’s greatest assets: Robert Walker. In his second-to-last role before the tragic early end to his troubled life, Walker utterly steals the picture as the unforgettable, sociopathic Bruno Antony. In one of the movie’s finest moments, there is double the suspense as Granger and Walker are both frustrated in their attempts to thwart each other… but it’s Walker we’re really rooting for.
The twin carnival scenes both display masterful dexterity in building tension. A few other scenes throughout are quite impressive as well (Granger’s visit to the Antony home has some wonderful business) but those are really the shining highlights of the film. There’s also some terrific humor, and just not from Antony. For example, the disappointed look on Leo J. Carroll’s face when Granger tells him that his alibi is a professor… at Delaware Tech, not Harvard. And except for a few really bad process shots (Hitchcock’s aversion to shooting on location is once again a hindrance) the photography is quite good, with some wonderful noir lighting and those meaningful close-ups of eyeglasses and cigarette lighters. Again, not one of my favorites and Granger is blah, but it’s a very enjoyable film. Rating: Very Good