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Strangers on a Train

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Edward Copeland with an absolutely fantastic discussion of Hitchcock’s superb Strangers on a Train, especially Robert Walker’s titanic work as the uber-creepy Bruno. Copeland concludes:

Finally, there’s the climax on the merry-go-round, one of the most exciting Hitchcock filmed, but there’s a moment many might miss. There’s a little boy still on the ride and even though it’s spinning wildly out of control, he’s having a blast. When the fighting Bruno and Guy come near him, the tyke stars hitting on Bruno — and Bruno hits the kid back. Strangers on a Train, simply put, is just a great fucking movie with Robert Walker giving one of the best portrayals of an on-screen psycho in film history. As Guy says about Bruno toward the end, “He was a very clever man” and Walker was just as clever an actor to deliver this brilliant a performance.

Yes, indeed.

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  • This is my favorite Hitchcock, far and away.

    It’s worth noting that the source material is by one of the most eccentric novelists of that time, Patricia Highsmith. Raymond Chandler adapted it. Robert Walker was effin’ brilliant, certainly an effective antidote to the bland Farley Granger.

    • Granger was great in Rope. But as a generic leading man? Not so much.

      • Kurzleg

        Not great. Adequate. John Dall’s far his superior in “Rope.” Best I can figure, F Granger was the “hot young thing” in movies at the time.

  • Ed

    Chandler worked on the script. He thought very little of the story. Hitchcock and Chandler did not get on and eventually Hitchcock brought in other writers. Not sure how much of Chandler’s draft remained in the film, possibly not much.

    Walker is excellent and Granger is very good, perfectly cast. The plot falls apart if you think about it too hard but Hitchcock is able to keep it going for as long as the movie lasts, which is enough.

  • norbizness

    It was such a fantastic portrayal that I wondered why I hadn’t seen him in anything else. Turns out he died right after the movie came out, at age 32, from a bad barbiturate/alcohol combo.

    At least he has immortality in one of the greatest .gifs I’ve ever seen: http://robertwalker.ytmnd.com/

  • Kurzleg

    What I read/heard (I don’t remember which) is that Walker pushed close to the effeminate/gay threshold than anyone else had up to that point. I think you can see/hear that in all the “Guy” pleadings, among other things. But it’s perfectly modulated. For younger (by which I mean middle-aged viewers), Marion Lorne is a special treat in the film feeding the gay characterization.

    But beyond all that, I enjoy “Strangers…” for it’s portrayal (however accurate) to a time/place/lifestyle that’s long gone. For better or worse, I couldn’t say definitively, but my intuition is for the better.

  • Kurzleg

    This will get lost, but having noted that Walker played “gay” to the hilt allowed in the 50’s, I only mention it underscore how effective this sort of subliminal “messaging” can be. And he was shrewd enough (which is not to discount Hitchcock’s direction) to use it to advantage.

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