(Image via Happyotter)

The favorite film:
Strangers on a Train, a 1951 crime thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock for Warner Bros.

The synopsis:
Famed tennis player Guy Haines is on a train when he meets apparent super-fan Bruno Anthony. Odd conversation ensues, and Bruno can’t seem to quit bringing up all of the gossip that’s been surrounding Guy and his love life in the society pages.

Bruno proposes a plan that he thinks will solve both men’s problems: he’ll kill Guy’s wife Miriam (so Guy can marry Anne Morton), and Guy will kill Bruno’s father. It’s the perfect crime – or so Bruno thinks. Guy, on the other hand, thinks Bruno is a bit off his rocker and laughs off the plan.

But Bruno’s plan is no longer a laughing matter when Miriam actually turns up dead, and Bruno wants Guy to fulfill his part of the agreement.

The cast:
Farley Granger as Guy Haines; Robert Walker as Bruno Anthony; Ruth Roman as Anne Morton; Leo Carroll as Senator Morton; Pat Hitchcock as Barbara Morton; Kasey Rogers as Miriam Haines

(Screen capture by TMP)

Fun facts:

  • Alfred Hitchcock bought the rights to the novel for less than $10,000.
  • An earlier version of the script ended with Bruno shown thrashing around in a straight jacket, which was writer Raymond Chandler’s idea. Hitchcock wanted the film to end with Guy referring to Bruno as “clever.”
  • Credit where credit ain’t due: Raymond Chandler (Double Indemnity) gets top screenwriting credit, but the script was written almost entirely by Czenzi Ormonde. Ormonde got the gig because he was working as the assistant of Ben Hecht (who also worked with Hitch on Notorious), who Hitchcock originally asked to work on the screenplay.
  • Hitchcock wanted William Holden for the role of Guy.
  • Robert Walker passed away eight months after filming was complete, making this his last complete feature film.
  • Alfred Hitchcock directs his daughter in the role of Barbara Morton, and Pat is said to have directed her father in his cameo appearance in this film.

Favorite things:

  • I couldn’t talk about a favorite Hitchcock film without mentioning the trademarks that pop up in this film.
    • Guy’s lighter acting as the MacGuffin
    (Screen capture by TMP)
    • Hitch loved his stairs, and the stairs in the Anthony home are no exception. (Plus, there’s a puppy standing on them… which doesn’t have anything to do with the trademarks, but double win!)
    • The director makes a cameo as a man struggling to carry his cello onto the train.
  • Forrest Gump would appreciate the foot-filled opening sequence. (He’s worn lots of shoes.)
  • Bruno considers himself “too friendly” in his first conversation with Guy, when he’s actually being terribly rude.
  • Robert Walker plays crazy so well, from his very first frame. His performance in the role of Bruno is perfect.
  • The use of the song “The Band Played On” at the fair
  • Guy’s wife is so man-hungry that she doesn’t even find it creepy when Bruno stalks her at the fair. She seems flattered by it.
  • I usually find Farley Granger’s acting a bit stiff, but he pulls off his paranoid character here and gives one of the best performances I’ve ever seen from him.
  • Bruno charms the old ladies at the party with his expertise on murder.
  • Bruno’s crazy pajamas:
(Screen capture by TMP)
  • Bruno’s ability to exert mind control on just about everyone he meets
  • The serious suspense that builds as Guy tries to finish his match and beat Bruno back to the scene of the crime – it’s a wild chase like only Hitch can do it!
  •  If you ever feel the need to get into a fist fight with someone, definitely do it on a carousel.
  • Quotes:
    • Bruno: “I certainly admire people who do things.”
    • Bruno: “I’ve got a theory that you should do everything before you die.”
    • Bruno: “Some people are better off dead! Like your wife and my father, for instance.”
    • Guy: “It’s pretty late to start flirting with a discarded husband.”
    • Fair worker: “YOU JUST WON A KEWPIE DOLL!”
    • Bruno: “You see, you have the motive.”
    • Guy: “You crazy fool!”
      Bruno: “Don’t you call me that.”

    (Screen capture by TMP)