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Strangers On A Train review

Made after the relative disappointments of Under Capricorn and Stage Fright, Strangers On A Train was Hitchcock's first American hit in the '50s.

Originally adapted from the Patricia Highsmith's novel, Strangers is an elegantly structured and amusing thriller, now being re-released in its "British version". (The original epilogue has been omitted and there are some minor dialogue changes.)

The premise is ingenious: two complete strangers meet on a train. Guy (Granger) is a star tennis pro who wants to divorce his wife, Miriam, and marry a senator's daughter. His flamboyant new acquaintance Bruno (Walker) initiates a hypnotic discussion and suggests they should `exchange' murders. He will kill Miriam if Guy will dispatch Bruno's own domineering father. Guy assumes it's a joke - - until Bruno carries out his part of the bargain and demands that he fulfil his.

Hitchcock actually jettisoned much of Raymond Chandler's original script, accusing the pulp hero of being too concerned with the characters' motivations. In its place, with typical consummate verve, Hitch unfolds a story filled with twists, turns and dramatic contrasts. He cleverly shifts the audience's identification towards the gay Bruno, who emerges as Guy's doppleganger, an embodiment of the latter's murderous desires. As always with Hitchcock, it's also packed with powerful sequences like the killing reflected in a broken eyeglass lens; the cross-cutting from a tennis match to Bruno's retrieval of a cigarette lighter; and the dramatic finale on a fairground carousel.

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