It’s been forever since I watched a Hitchcock film. I remember Rear Window when I was young and I loved it. I also watched Psycho for a film class once but that was never my thing. Strangers On A Train though, is a thrilling ride. Slow in pace but it’s got a seriously creepy villain character. The film is sorta based around a Patricia Highsmith novel of the same name. She of The Talented Mr. Ripley fame.

Farley Granger is Guy Haines, a slim, tall, handsome amateur tennis player who bumps into Bruno Anthony, played by Robert Walker on a train ride. The excessively inquisitive and talkative Bruno has read about Guy’s affair with a senator’s daughter in the papers and catches on to the idea that he’s going home to get a divorce from his wife so he can marry her instead. Guy’s obviously uncomfortable with this and gets annoyed but stupidly keeps allowing Bruno to get an edge in. Eventually, Bruno proposes the perfect murder, just as a thought at first. By swopping murders, Bruno killing Guy’s wife Miriam and Guy killing Bruno’s father in exchange. Because neither has any motive and no one knows about the swop, it would be “perfect”. Guy thinks he’s loony and leaves him. Of course Bruno then actually commits the murder, before pestering Guy endlessly.

More then just a crime caper, the way Hitchcock frames stuff and puts stuff in, you get this sense of duality. Of the duality in man. In his noted cameo scene, Hitchcock pops up to go onto the train, the fat, lumbering director matched equally by the fat double bass he carries. Bruno, in a sense, is really Guy’s alter ego, a sort of strange culmination of his wanton desires. In truth, Miriam is a hindrance, a flirtatious, loose woman who is only clinging onto Guy for the money whilst she gallivants round town with random men. Guy, on the other hand, is really in love with Anne but can’t be with her because Miriam refuses to budge. If he could have committed the perfect murder and get away with it, he probably would have. He certainly looks like he would consider it.

Bruno is desire unchained by logic or ethics or any systems of understood social conscience. He just does what he wants. His character is a psychopath, devious and evil. He hates his father but adores his mother in a way that overtly displays an Oedipus Complex. She in turn, doesn’t exactly turn him away, which is pretty gross. In some ways, I’m kinda reminded of Dostoevsky’s The Double when I was watching the film.

So we get this chilling, thrilling story about Guy trying to get out of the sticky mess he unwittingly fell into but subconsciously wants to happen but doesn’t want because society says it ain’t ok.

Robert Walker’s Bruno is insane in the membrane. His smarmy, almost gay behaviour is what drives the annoyingness of the chase if you will. He’s relentless and perverse. You hope you never meet a guy like him. The weirdest thing about the film is that it’s got a happy ending! I haven’t seen one in ages! Albeit one that arrives with a violent process as resolution, a certain unintended but desired evil required to bring about an apparent peace.

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