Posts Tagged Robert Walker

Strangers On A Train (Alfred Hitchcock, 1951)

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I certainly admire people who do things

One thing on my ‘to do’ list that I have done is to watch Strangers On A Train. I expected to watch it and be focused on Farley Granger, recently deceased. Instead I was utterly captivated by Robert Walker, whose performance as a sociopath trying to rid himself of his father is astonishing. One of the many ways you can quickly tell his character, Bruno Anthony, is a lunatic is that he wears a tie pin which spells out his own name. That the tie in question is decorated with lobsters doesn’t help either.

Meeting tennis player Guy Haines on a train by chance, Bruno attempts to enlist him in his homicidal scheme (“You do my murder, I do yours” brilliantly summing up the whole premise of the film), having used his frankly worrying knowledge of Haines’ socialite-in-waiting life to establish that the sportsman wants to be rid of his sluttish wife. Bruno strangles Miriam Haines, and, believing a deal to have been struck on board the train, begins to invade Haines’ life in attempt to cajole or threaten him into killing Anthony senior. Haines attempts to warn the father, only to find Bruno hilariously/terrifyingly waiting for him, in bed, in full evening dress. Having learnt of Haines’ attempted deception, Bruno decides to implicate Guy in Miriam’s murder…

As well as Robert Walker’s incredible performance (creepy, charming, louche, unhinged, funny), the film is notable for its use of light and dark (both literally and as metaphor) and notions of duality. I have no real idea about these things, but those who do assure me the strangulation scene, viewed as a reflection in the victim’s glasses, is pioneering. Best of all, it’s a gripping story, given suitable pace and tension (of course) by Hitchcock. An absolute must-watch.

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