Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Strangers On A Train (1951)

Hitchcock! Hitchcock! Hitchcock!

"Ah, what a nice lighter! By showing me this, you infer clearly that I should smoke your wife... How clever!"

Genre: Crime Drama Film-Noir Thriller

Starring: Farley Granger (Rope; The Purple Heart), Robert Walker (Bataan)

Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock (Lifeboat; Foreign Correspondant)

Overview: A couple of strangers bump into one another on a train. Bruno pitches a theory about switching murders. By the the time Guy's figured out it was more than friendly banter, he's in all too deep.

Acting: Absolutely fantastic. When I first heard of this film I'd always thought it was a couple of sane guys deciding on swapping murders. I had no idea it was about one calm and collected fellow talking to a right out-there wacko nut-job. As Bruno, Robert Walker takes the cake. He's great at being creepy-cool-Noir. In fact everyone is just the right amount of 'off'.
Rating: 9

Cinematography: This film is less about high art (though there's even some of that) and more about unique settings. The long stalking scene at the fair is surely one of the most famous in film history and with good reason. The tunnel of love is full of suspense, and as climactic endings go, having a dramatic finale on a Merry-Go-Round is absolutely awe-inspiring. I know this is one of the one's I'll be seeing again one day for sure.
Rating: 9

Script: Bruno, you whack-job. Without your dialogue and the unique self that you are, this film would still have been great but nowhere near as memorable. The way this film's words play out is more like a constant tragedy of errors and synchronicities of juxtaposed thought rather than sensible rationales. In a way you're predictable, because madmen are often all too obvious.
Rating: 8

Plot: When I consider how simply this film could have turned formulaic, I thank my lucky stars that the men behind the lens understood the consequences of their actions. Is it possible that these people knew they were making one of America's most famous films? You know, I bet they did. When you take simplicity and confound it with madness, everyone wins. Add characters oblivious and wild, without spending too much time in detailing everything and you have a story that speaks volumes in silence.
Rating: 9

Mood: I will say that I hoped for a far more stylized film. I mean when I think Film-Noir, I think at the boldest extreme, Sin City. Stark shadows and shaded eyes under street lamps, that hyper-typical stuff. While I watched this however I realized that Hitchcock's take on Film-Noir takes it out of the shadows and into a twilight that invites his own originality to shine through. This is an engrossing film, but you knew that already.
Rating: 9

Aww isn't it cute? She thinks he's checking her out, but he's actually stalking... awwww

Overall Rating: 88% (Get Familiar With It)

Aftertaste: The second I saw a man wearing a tie clip that read 'Bruno' clipped to a tie with lobsters on it, I knew that I was in for a totally different film than I expected. Fairgrounds at night are haunting, they're awesome and when huge machines go out of control, well that's a grace that speaks for itself. This is one of Hitchcock's best films, and one of my favorites. Sorry to be so predictable...