En route from Washington, D.C., champion tennis player Guy Haines (Farley Granger) meets pushy playboy Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker). What begins as a chance encounter turns into a series of morbid confrontations, as Bruno... more » manipulates his way into Guy's life. Bruno is eager to kill his father and knows Guy wants to marry a senator's daughter (Ruth Roman) but can't get a divorce from his wife. So Bruno suggests the men swap murders, which would leave no traceable clues or possible motives. Though Guy refuses, it won't be easy to rid himself of the psychopathic Bruno. Hitchcock's daughter Patricia appears in this film. The extra features included on the DVD are: Alternate 'preview' version of the film; Commentary by director Peter Bogdanovich, Psycho screenwriter Joseph Stephano, Strangers on a Train author Patricia Highsmith and biographer Andrew Wilson; New making-of documentary Strangers on a Train: A Hitchcock Classic, with Farley Granger, film historian Richard Schickel, Patricia Hitchcock O'Connell and other Hitchcock family members and colleagues recalling the making of this suspense landmark; Three intriguing featurettes: The Hitchcocks on Hitch, Strangers on a Train: The Victim's P.O.V., Strangers on a Train by M. Night Shyamalan; Alfred Hitchcock's Historical Meeting, a vintage newsreel.« less
David Kusumoto | San Diego, CA United States | 01/22/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's important to note two things about this edition of "Strangers on a Train." First off, the description on Amazon.com's page is incorrect. This DVD is not in widescreen. The second thing is, to you widescreen buffs out there (including myself) -- Relax! This film was never shot in widescreen. In fact, prior to 1953 (The Robe), there was never anything bigger than 35mm! This is why this film (and you'll be surprised to hear), many, many classic films will never be produced in widescreen. They don't exist. You should buy this DVD because of the video quality and the extra "goodies." Gone with the Wind in widescreen? Nope, never was, even though it was blown up to 70mm and cropped horribly in the 1968 re-issue. What's out there on DVD on Gone with the Wind is standard 35mm "TV semi-square" framing, because that's the way it was shot. Wizard of Oz, Casablanca, Citizen Kane? Nope, never shot in anything greater than 35mm. It's a Wonderful Life? No again. Widescreen is limited to theatrical films issued for the most part, after 1953, when competition with television forced studios to come up with the "panoramic" gimmicks to bring people back into the theaters. This is period (1953-1963) when Cinemascope, Todd-AO, VistaVision, Super Panavision 70 and other widescreen formats were born -- and the most extreme example was Cinerama, which used three cameras and is used to best effect in the DVD version of How the West Was Won. So don't fret, this DVD is good, crisp and clean and formatted as Alfred Hitchcock intended! Tomorrow's movies will be in IMAX (see Fantasia 2000, in selected theaters now)."
Hitchcock on the right track
Edward | San Francisco | 07/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Strangers on a Train" is that rarity, an Alfred Hitchcock film concerning which one talks about an actor's performance almost as much as the director's. The actor, of course, is Robert Walker, presenting his remarkable portrayal of Bruno Anthony, the rich, unstable man who offers the hero Guy Haines a deadly proposition: he'll kill Guy's wife Miriam (played by the interesting Laura Elliott) if Guy will kill Bruno's father. Because they are strangers on a train who do not know their intended victims, there will be no motives, therefore perfect alibis. Guy doesn't take Bruno seriously, which turns out to be a fatal mistake. Bruno is a complicated part. Although he is obssessed with his own superiority, he can be incredibly petty (popping a little boy's balloon just for the meanness of it), not to mention prissy ("I'm afraid I don't know what a `smoocher' is!"). The character seems to overshadow the entire movie, which is appropriate, because Bruno casts a shadow over the easy, affluent world in which he lives. When he crashes the senator's cocktail party, it's like Satan has arrived, striding through polite society. And, no, Walker was not nominated for an Oscar. Neither was Joseph Cotten for "Shadow of a Doubt". Neither was Anthony Perkins for "Psycho". The Academy evidently had difficulty with Hitchcock's anti-heroes. Hitchcock originally wanted William Holden for the role of Guy Haines, but I think Holden was so savvy and macho, it would have been difficult to accept him as a psycopath's pawn. Farley Granger is atheletic enough to be convincing as a tennis champ, but he has a boyishness which makes the vulnerable aspects of the character believable. The film is filled with the touches one associates with Hitchcock. Some are obvious, like Miriam's strangulation reflected in her eyeglasses. Others are more subtle: After the murder, Bruno approaches Guy outside Guy's apartment house. At first Guy cannot tell who is calling his name in the dark. Bruno is standing near a large gate with wrought-iron bars; and, as Guy comes near him, he steps behind the gate -- in other words, he's behind bars. Then, after he has told Guy about Miriam's death and Guy is absorbing the shock, a police car pulls up in front of Guy's apartment house and Guy himself ducks behind the gate. Now they're BOTH behind bars. Hitchcock was a genius, no doubt about it.I wonder how many viewers have noticed the odd discrepency near the end. Bruno has stepped off the train at Metcalf, holding the incriminating cigarette lighter he hopes to plant on the amusement park island, thus framing Guy. A pedestrian brushes by him and the lighter falls into a storm drain in the street. Bruno, frantic, tries to enlist the aid of passersby. However, he says (not once but twice) "I dropped my cigarette CASE in the drain!" Walker, of course, was in the process of drinking himself to death; but the mistake could easily have been corrected with a little dubbing. It's bothered me for years why it wasn't.Director of Photography Robert Burks began his long association with Hitchcock on this picture. He must have worked night and day to satisfy Hitchcock's demands, but his loveliest effect is the amusement park's neon lights against a glowing black-and-white sunset.The film's mood is enhanced by Dimitri Tiomkin's romantically mysterious score. It's particularly striking in the movie's"coda" when Guy is trying desperately to finish a tennis game (allegro) and Bruno is desperately trying to reach that damn lighter (adagio). Hitchcock and Tiomkin worked a couple of more times together but never more effectively than in thisdazzling masterpiece."
JWaite100@aol.com | Philadelphia, PA, USA | 08/14/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Strangers On A Train" should be rated as Hitchcock's absolute best.To begin with, it features a perfect performance by Robert Walker, an actor who would be dead within a year after making this great movie.Walker had previously played some wonderful roles, but he astounded the world with his acting ability once "Strangers On A Train" was released.Aside from Walker's amazing performance, "Strangers On A Train" is full of half-hidden meanings which relate to the dual personality each of us possesses.Hitchcock was a true genius, who not only understood both the dark and the bright sides of the human psyche, but who also knew how to depict that understanding by way of film.I have watched "Strangers On A Train" a dozen or more times, and never tire of watching it yet again, each time finding something new that I had not noticed the time I watched it before.But, the main reason I watch this film so often is to enjoy the exceptional , perfect performance by Robert Walker. Walker was only in his 30s when he died. He was a tragic figure in real life. He died much too soon, and we are very fortunate to be able to observe his wonderful talent, preserved in this movie, almost fifty years after his passing."
One of the Greatest Thrillers of All Time: Hitchcock Present
Daniel R. Sanderman | Portland, OR United States | 10/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"STRANGERS ON A TRAIN is a wonderful thriller. I am always amazed at the amount of suspense and tension that Hitchcock is able to create in each of his movies. What passes for "thrillers" these days has none of the heart or excitement of his films and this picture is one of his best. Moreover, if you enjoy Patricia Highsmith's novels (or the films that have been made from them), you will love this film. Highsmith seems to have a flair for giving us extremely creepy, psychopathic murderers. Yet, at the same time, she manages to breathe life into Bruno Anthony (played by Robert Walker). Of course, he is an amoral, calculating murderer (as many of her villains are), yet we come to sympathize with him in strange ways. Regarding the "homoerotic" content of his performance, I agree with other reviewers who say that it is so subtle as to be completely negligible: one could either chalk up his behavior to homoerotic feelings he has for Guy, or you could simply pass it off as the deranged actions of a mad man. In any case, while it may add depth to his character, it is certainly not necessary for delving into this film (or enjoying it).
The plot is rather simple: two strangers meet on a train and one of them casually proposes that they each "swap" murders. Neither of them would have a motive for killing each other's "nuisance" and it would solve both of their problems. The only trouble is, only one of the strangers is a psychopath with any murderous intentions. When Bruno completes his end of the "bargain," he leaves Guy in a tough spot: since Guy is the only one with a motive it appears that Guy himself is guilty of the crime. The rest of the film is a game of cat & mouse between Bruno and Guy and the storytelling is absolutely phenomenal.
As always, Hitchcock is at the top of his game. I found myself just marveling at the angles and the composition in this film. His use of lighting (and, of course, the absence of lighting) is absolutely perfect. Hitchcock could tell an entire story just with his choice of lighting and shadows. There is also the famous "tennis" shot, in which the entire audience is flipping their heads back and forth, keeping up with the game. All of the heads, that is, except for one: Bruno's. His steady gaze is fixed upon Guy's position, burning a hole in his chest. It is absolutely perfect.
As you can probably tell, I'm a big fan of Hitchcock. But even if you are not a huge fan, I think you owe it to yourself to see STRANGERS ON A TRAIN. It is widely regarded as one of his best films and it should have a broad appeal. One word to the wise: make sure you buy a good transfer of this film (such as this set). Many of Hitchcock's films have been horribly transferred onto cheaper DVD's (and it shows)."
Hitch's first in a stream of classic films
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 09/11/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although there's no doubt that Hitchcock directed a number of classic films before "Strangers on a Train", it seemed as if this film somehow liberated him in some way. After "Strangers" he directed a string of classic films which have rarely been surpassed. The themes that always sprinkled his best work come to the fore in this terrific film. Although the narrative and the film has some minor flaws, they're easy to overlook given the power of this marvelous motion picture.
Guy Haines (Farley Granger)a tennis pro wants a divorce from his gold digging wife Miriam(Laura Elliot aka Kasey Rogers). Turns out she doesn't want a divorce anymore now that Guy has a socialite girlfriend (Ruth Roman)who is the daughter of a prominent senator. Miriam (curiously, also the name of Janet Leigh's character in "Psycho")is pregnant with another man's child and wants as much as possible from Guy. On the train back to Washington D.C. guy meets Bruno Antony (the marvelous Robert Walker)a psychopathic killer in the making. Bruno engages Guy in conversation and Guy tells him about his wife. Bruno suggests that he can come up with the perfect murder; they swap murders and, since they don't really know each other, the police will not be able to connect the murders to them. Guy humors Bruno thinking nothing of it. Until Bruno follows through on his part of the "bargain" in a brilliant, stunning sequence reflected in the glasses of the victim. Now Bruno is stalking Guy insisting that he complete his part of the bargain.
This deluxe two disc edition improves on the previous single disc dual sided edition of a couple of years ago. This set includes both the theatrical release and the preview release (mistakenly referred to as the "British" release on the previous edition). We also get a number of terrific extras on this two disc set including 4 short documentaries and an extra carried over from the previous edition of Hitchcock promoting "Strangers on a Train" with some local performers dressed in colonial costumes. Although this section has no sound and has no titles explain the action (it is explained on the previous edition however), it's a fascinating glimpse into the past. We hear about the Hitchcocks from their daughter and granddaughters. We also hear about the making of the film from Robert Walker's son, Patricia Hitchcock O'Connell, film critic Richard Schickel and others. The only short I felt was a waste of time was comments from director M. Night Shyamalan who sounds a bit like a drolling film student here. That would be OK but he doesn't make any observations that amount to anything.
The first disc contains the original theatrical version with a commentary track by "Psycho" and "The Outer Limits" screenwriter Josephn Stefano, director Peter Bogdanovich, Patricia Highsmith biographer Andrew Wilson, various cast family members and Hitchcock himself from an interview. The film has never looked so great before on DVD. The previous edition looked good but had signficant grain problems, analog artifacts and had a picture that tended on the soft side. The picture here is sharper with better clarity and richer blacks, whites and grays than the single disc edition.
Disc two contains all the extras plus the preview version which has a couple of minutes that were cut from the final version. In this version there's a bit more interplay between Bruno and Guy "suggesting" that Bruno is gay. Again, the picture here is a marked improvement for similar reasons. Evidently when Jack Warner saw Hitchcock's preview version, he agreed with the original ending that Hitchcock had in mind.
A great movie just got greater and the fact that this is in a plastic amray case vs. the cardboard snapcases is a marked improvement. Highly recommended for both Hitchcock fans and those interested in learning about the master of suspense."