Film Review – STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (1951)

STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (1951, USA, 101m, PG) ****½
Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller
dist. Warner Bros.; pr co. Warner Bros.; d. Alfred Hitchcock; w. Raymond Chandler, Czenzi Ormonde, Whitfield Cook (based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith); pr. Alfred Hitchcock (uncredited); ph. Robert Burks (B&W | 1.37:1); m. Dimitri Tiomkin; ed. William H. Ziegler; ad. Ted Haworth.
cast: Farley Granger (Guy Haines), Ruth Roman (Anne Morton), Robert Walker (Bruno Antony), Leo G. Carroll (Sen. Morton), Patricia Hitchcock (Barbara Morton), Kasey Rogers (Miriam Joyce Haines (as Laura Elliott)), Marion Lorne (Mrs. Antony), Jonathan Hale (Mr. Antony), Howard St. John (Police Capt. Turley), John Brown (Prof. Collins), Norma Varden (Mrs. Cunningham), Robert Gist (Det. Leslie Hennessey).
Patricia Highsmith’s thriller is expertly adapted for the big screen by Hitchcock from a script by Chandler, Ormonde and Cook. Tennis star Granger is enraged by his estranged wife’s (Rogers) refusal to sign their divorce papers so he can marry senator Carroll’s daughter (Roman). On a train journey, he strikes up a conversation with stranger Walker and unwittingly sets in motion the killing of his wife by the psychopathic Walker. Walker then urges Granger to reciprocate by killing Walker’s father. Granger, who is now the police prime suspect in the killing of his wife, is caught in a conundrum. Whilst the premise may be a conceit, the story creates considerable suspense, all beautifully captured by Burks’ shadowy photography and emphasised by Tiomkin’s complimentary score. Walker gives an expert performance, mixing menace and charm and the pacing of the story is perfect, with key moments expertly edited by Ziegler for maximum tension.
AAN: Best Cinematography, Black-and-White (Robert Burks)