Strangers on a Train - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Strangers on a Train Reviews

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Super Reviewer
April 10, 2016
An overrated thriller that does have a gorgeous cinematography and an intriguing premise but whose development has its share of unnecessary narrative flaws and drags unforgivably, feeling bloated (and even tiresome) with scenes that are elongated for too long.
Super Reviewer
October 3, 2013
A chance meeting between two strangers leads to a proposition that they "trade murders."
This is a fantastic thriller. The master of suspense unravels a compelling tale of a psychopath manipulating an average Joe into a complex murder plot. The one complaint I had with the film is that the characters are too black and white. There's never a chance that the "good guy" will yield to the "bad guy's" intentions, which would represent of a blurring of the "good" and "evil" lines and make for a more interesting character study.
Overall, with Hitch's incredible eye for glittering set pieces, human psychology, and gripping suspense, this is one of the best suspense films of all time.
Super Reviewer
June 19, 2013
Pretty good film, but Hitchcock's done more exciting ones.
Super Reviewer
½ October 19, 2012
A bonafide suspense classic concerning an up-and-coming tennis player (Farley Granger) who meets a psychopath (Robert Walker) on a train by chance, and how the troubled man thinks he strikes a deal with the athlete on him murdering his girlfriend if he murders his father. Only, that's not the case at all. Another successful Hitchcock noir isn't as good as some of his best work ("Rear Window" to name one), but it is still a really skillfully done movie that goes by fast and has one of the more exciting conclusions to a Hitchcock film that I have seen. It does have a few holes story wise, but the performances from Granger and Walker alone make this worthy of a view, and it is not hard to fall in love with how Hitchcock shoots his films, as well as the music he selects to raise the hair on the back of your neck at the precise, appropriate time.
Super Reviewer
June 18, 2006
I figured this would be good, given that it's Hitchcock, but I didn't expect it to be quite *this* stellar. This is an absolutely outstanding, tense, and creepy suspense thriller that easily ranks up there as one of Hitch's perfect films.

The plot is rather typical stuff: a chance encounter between two men who have a problem with someone they'd like to murder come up with a plan where each man commits the other's murder, leaving them motiveless and the other person free and clear.

Of course, nothing is that simple, and unhealthy attachments, miscommunications, and psychoses lead to a tense and thrilling cat and mouse game between the two gentlemen, who first met, as simply nothing more than strangers on a train.

The premise is nothing extremely great, but the execution is where this film truly shines. Loaded up with lots of symbols, themes, and motifs involving doubles, duality, light and dark, this is a gorgeous film that can easily be studied and analyzed for quite some time. And, true to the themes, there are two version of the film: the original theatrical cut, and a slightly longer British pre-release version. The big difference is that the British version is a little more overt in showing the homoerotic undertones and just how psychotic one of the leads is. Either version is worth your time, as I really felt neither edged out the other.

The performances, especially by Robert Walker, and tremendous. The cinematography and camera work are absolutely gorgeous, with a crisp black and white that evokes the finest of film noirs. There's some truly brilliant moments as well, whether it is the memorable climax or a murder scene shown from the reflection of the victim's glasses. That shot alone is one they probably show in film classes, and it truly is a marvelous moment.

All in all of course you need to see this! It's Hitch, it's suspenseful, it's artistically stunning, and as far as thrill rides go, it's quite a rush.
Clintus M.
Super Reviewer
March 7, 2012
Alfred Hitchcock loved to plunge ordinary people into extraordinary situations culminating in feverish life or death climaxes, and Strangers On A Train is one of his finest efforts. This film is fantastically atmospheric with a palpable malevolence throughout. It also features unforgettable performances, particularly Robert Walker as Bruno Anthony, a character with a combination of indolence and menace as threatening as any villain ever. There are wonderful "trick" shots, like the much-discussed strangulation reflected in the glasses. The music, likewise for me, captures the film's aesthetic; its almost terrifying in places.

Strangers' centerpiece is the strange duality between Guy Haines and Bruno. Its important to note that Guy is innocent of actual murder but not the intent to murder. Even girlfriend Anne (Ruth Roman) is suspicious of Guy after their phone conversation. Bruno assumes a lot, and Guy is guilty of omission more than commission. Bruno is the dark, "other side" of Guy, the tennis star who "does things." Ironically it is Bruno who actually does things. They carry on an implicit homosexual courtship throughout.

Just a quick note on other actors/characters: Laura Elliot as Miriam and Hitchcock's daughter Patricia as Barbara Morton are better actors and more interesting than the more famous Ruth Roman. Roman looks the part of senator's daughter/girlfriend Anne Morton but is too wooden. She represents upper class decorum but is not sexy. The point is that she's got the morals and class that Guy's wife lacks, and this contrast works well in the film.

Strangers is well crafted at every level, and the suspense screams to a stunning climax where Bruno almost succeeds in pinning the blame on Guy before his brutal death. The destruction of the carousel in which Bruno dies and the truth is revealed may be my favorite Hitchcockian climax. (Norman Bates' mother is pretty good too!)
Super Reviewer
February 25, 2012
Everyone has someone they want dead. From this casual statement of a very secret everyman wish comes a suspenseful amusement park ride, a descent into madness wrapped in a candy box. Walker's Bruno is one of the most seductive of cinematic villains and certainly one of the best reasons to see one of the best of Hitchcock films.
Super Reviewer
½ December 26, 2011
In my opinion this is Hitchcock's best film. With a fantastic and interesting story that keeps you gripped and involved right until the end is a classic I could watch again and again. Everything about this film is near perfect except the ending which (as I have found with many Hitchcock films) left me unsatisfied as it was a bit too easy and convenient. Nevertheless a brilliant film and a must watch.
Super Reviewer
November 25, 2011
"Strangers on a Train" is classic hollywood cinema at it's finest. As as simple as a story can be, two unlikely men (one on a mission to kill for happiness and satisfaction, the other to live life as it is) come into contact with each other. Bruno (the psychotic one) decides to create a plan to kill Guy's (the subtle one) wife who has been very tiresome lately. Once Bruno goes through with it, all hell breaks loose as Guy tries to plead innocent by straying away from any sight of the authorities. This film has one of the most intense endings I have ever seen, with hints of humour, glamour, and horror. The 'Mise En Scene' is absolutely wonderful and Alfred Hitchcock definitely leaves his Auteur mark on his films, particularly the shadows and metaphors through the cinematography in this film. This does not only have a perfect story, a perfect cast, a perfect script, and a perfect resolution, but it is definitely one of the best films ever made! "Strangers on a Train" is a true cinematic masterpiece!
Super Reviewer
½ November 13, 2011
Featuring a frightening performance by Robert Walker and great direction from the master auteur.
Super Reviewer
January 20, 2009
For just plain real-world, everyday scary, this Hitchcock is hard to beat. There really are psychopaths like Bruno Anthony running around out there, so beware of running into one of them. Robert Walker plays well about as whacked out a nutcase as you could hope not to find. I love what Rob Reiner did with the old "criss-cross" motif in Throw Momma from the Train. Just saw this again. Really too bad that Walker passed away so young. Now days, 32 years old seems like a just a kid to me..
Super Reviewer
May 25, 2011
I have always thought "Strangers on a Train" to be an extremely padded film. While the first 3rd of the picture is near air tight, the last 2/3s are almost a wash. The film manages to bring up interesting concepts of existentialism and violence but abandons them for a clear cut moral in the films conclusion. It doesn't help that the film careens into the ridiculous with a silly climax and unnecessarily goofy side characters. "Strangers on a Train" feels like a compromise, and being able to watch the even more-so homosexually charged European cut solidifies this. There are many interesting ideas posed by the story and the first act (namely the violent, child-like state of Bruno), but it's pretty much tossed aside for an audience pleasing ending.
Super Reviewer
April 16, 2007
Based on a pot-boiler by the famous Patricia Highsmith (though I've heard Hitchcock and a steady stream of writers got pretty far from the novel), Strangers on a Train may be as good of a thriller film as was ever made. Plotted with the expertise of the Greek tragedians - characters of high status, miss the mark, fall - and the efficiency of Chekhov (all the guns go off in this one!), this is a film that could be called the height of noir.

Visuals I will never forget:

-Bruno laying back in the train seat with his cigar
-Bruno's growing shadow in the Tunnel of Love
-Bruno waiting at the capitol, black silhouette on white pillars
-Bruno watching tennis: all other characters turning their head with the play, and Bruno staring straight ahead, at Guy
-When Guy turns on the light and finds Bruno in the bed - jump-worthy!

I've said Bruno enough, so let me praise the acting: Robert Walker took over the film, and Farley Granger, as Guy, was more innocent than Jimmy Stewart without being cartoony but carried a real upper-crust outlook convincingly all the while. From the opening proposition to the stunning merry-go-round accident - a real man really crawled under a real running merry-go-round, by the way - this one's a classic: essential viewing by any standard.
Super Reviewer
½ August 27, 2008
"My theory is that everyone is a potential murderer."

A psychotic socialite confronts a pro tennis star with a theory on how two complete strangers can get away with murder...a theory that he plans to implement.

Alfred Hitchcock has made many brilliant thrillers, and many of them have gone on to be hailed as some of the greatest films of all time. One film that tends to get somewhat lost under the Vertigo's and the Psycho's is this film; Strangers on a Train, the most compelling film that Hitchcock ever made. The story follows Guy Haines, a tennis player and a man soon to be wed to the Senator's daughter, if he can get a divorce from his current wife. One day, on the way to see his wife, he meets the mentally unstable Bruno Anthony aboard a train and soon gets drawn into a murder plot that he can neither stop nor stall; and one that could ultimately cost him his life.

The conversation aboard the train between Bruno and Guy is one of the cinema's most intriguing and thought provoking of all time. What if two people "swapped" murders, thus resolving themselves of all suspicion of the crime, and rendering their motive irrelevant? Could this truly be the perfect murder? What makes this film all the more frightening is that the events that Guy is lead into could happen to any, normal everyday person. Everyone has someone they'd like to get rid of, so what if you met an insane man aboard a train that does your murder for you and then forces you to do his? The chances of it happening are unlikely, but it's the idea that anyone could be a murderer that is central to the message of Strangers on a Train; and in this situation, anyone could.

Is there any actor on earth that could have portrayed the character of Bruno Anthony any better than Robert Walker? The man was simply born for the part. He manages to capture just the right mood for his character and absolutely commands every scene he is in. The character of Bruno is a madman, but he's not a lunatic; he's a calculating, conniving human being and Robert Walker makes the character believable. His performance is extremely malevolent, and yet understated enough to keep the character firmly within the realms of reality. Unfortunately, Robert Walker died just one year after the release of Strangers on a Train, and I believe that is a great loss to cinema. Nobody in the cast shines as much as Walker does, but worth mentioning is his co-star Farley Granger. Granger never really impresses that much, but his performance is good enough and he holds his own against Walker. Also notable about his performance is that he portrays his character as a very normal person; and that is how it should be. Ruth Roman is Guy's wife to be. She isn't really in the film enough to make a lasting impression, but she makes the best of what she has. Alfred Hitchcock's daughter, Patricia, takes the final role of the four central roles as Barbara, the sister of Guy's fiancé. She is suitably lovely in this role, and she tends to steal a lot of the scenes that she is in.

Alfred Hitchcock's direction is always sublime, and it is very much so in this film. There is one shot in particular, that sees the murder of the film being committed in the reflection of a pair of sunglasses. This is an absolutely brilliant shot, and one that creates a great atmosphere for the scene. Hitchcock's direction is moody throughout, and very much complies with the film noir style. The climax to the film is both spectacular and exciting, and I don't think that anyone but Hitchcock could have pulled it off to the great effect that it was shown in this film. It's truly overblown, and out of turn from the rest of the movie; but it works. There is a reason that Hitchcock is often cited as the greatest director of all time, and the reason for that is that he doesn't only use the script to tell the film's story, but he also uses to camera to do so as well. Strangers on a Train is one of the greatest thrillers ever made. Its story is both intriguing and thought provoking, and is sure to delight any fan of cinema. A masterpiece.
Super Reviewer
September 5, 2010
Another great thriller from Hitchcock, he had a winning streak all through the 40s and 50s. The story of this movie is unique and interesting, I recommend seeing it if you like Hitckcock's films.
Super Reviewer
June 27, 2010
"What is a life or two, Guy? Some people are better off dead. Well, like your wife and my father, for instance."

It's the perfect murder. Two strangers meet, and each kill off the victim of the other. There's no motive linking the killer to the crime, so theoretically the police would never have a reason to suspect what actually happened. Of course, even the perfect plan can fail when one of the participants has no intention of actually going through with the crime, and the other is mentally disturbed.

We've seen Hitchcock tackle "the perfect murder" before in Dial M for Murder, and it's no real surprise that both movies deal with the disastrous results of a crime that turns out to be not nearly so perfect. I also ended up liking both movies to about the same degree.

Strangers on a Train does one thing extremely well, and that's suspense. It may be one of the most suspenseful Hitchcock movies that I've seen, and that's saying something. But unlike my favorite Hitchcock movies, it doesn't have much to offer beyond that near-constant tension. I didn't find the characters particularly interesting, and the story didn't do much for me. The merry-go-round scene at the end was incredibly impressive, but it probably will be quite a while before I revisit this one. With that said, an average Hitchcock movie is still worth seeing at least once.
Super Reviewer
April 29, 2010
Another one of my favorite films from Hitchcock. The plot alone makes this movie perfect. Itâ??s so incredibly demented and genius at the same time that you canâ??t help but watch and see how it plays out. It also has a nice little bit about being a celebrity, donâ??t talk to odd men you donâ??t know. Secretly, they could want you to kill their mother. Robert Walker also gave a career best and is still one of my favorite Hitchcock villains. I also loved Farley Granger because he had a really nice edge to him that most protagonists donâ??t have. Another perfectly directed film that anyone can appreciate.
Super Reviewer
½ November 12, 2009
Interesting premise poorly executed, Ridiculous unconvincing moments come one after another just to make the story progress or create excitement & thrills, for example Anne's sister's resembelance to Miriam & the way Anne suddenly becomes super-genius & discovers everything is hilariously ridiculous
Super Reviewer
January 6, 2009
Some of my favorite Hitchcock 'moments', especially the amusement park scenes. Hitch takes a merry-go-round (could there be anything more innocuous?) and makes it nightmarishly threatening. Brilliant.
Super Reviewer
June 7, 2009
Good, but incredibly slow paced but not to the intense point of thriller. Still, some beautiful shots!
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