One of my personal favorites, Strangers on a Train stars Farley Granger as Guy Haines and Robert Walker as Bruno Antony in an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel. Important viewing for all lovers of Hitchcock and avid viewers of suspense, Strangers encompasses a lot of what can make a movie stand out. The stand out actor is Robert Walker, who would never get to see the impact his character had. Farley Granger is a worthy co-star as the guy brought into the situation.
Guy Haines was not personally sought out by Anthony but he may has well been. The chance meeting on the train turns to chaos for the tennis star when Bruno proposes a switch. You kill my father, I’ll kill your ex-wife. It is a story known around the globe; constantly re-told in varying ways but nothing holds a candle to this Hitchcock adaptation of the novella.
I have read about and viewed the film many times. One of the best to study, Strangers shows us our capabilities as story tellers and film makers. Many elements, like in all of Hitchcock’s films, create a hectic bow ready to be tied. The great suspense in this film belongs to our villain Bruno Antony, the man you want to win. It’s odd that in many Hitchcock films you root for the good guy but in Strangers you find yourself falling for the lovable psychopath who believes himself to be justified in getting rid of bad people.
A momma’s boy who disdains his father and dresses flamboyantly, many people have come to believe that Bruno is gay. In the end that does not matter. What I do think is important is that Antony’s strength lies in his unassuming femininity. If he were masculine the chances are people would have an easier time catching onto him. With his feminine ways, Anthony is seen as far weaker than he actually is. He is able to use what some may refer to as his weakness as his strength.
When you find yourself watching Strangers on a Train don’t forget to pay attention to everything. No detail is too insignificant. From the opening credits to the ending moments, Strangers on a Train has many elements that make up a great picture.
To some Film Noir is a genre not unlike Westerns and Gangster movies. They all seem to fit into a certain mold. Unlike the two genres mentioned, Film Noir is a little different. It doesn’t fit into a well defined mold. Yes, the majority of Film Noir’s have a detective. Sometimes that detective is the star and sometimes he is after the main male and female characters. Sometimes he is also the bad guy. While Film Noir has a specific set of rules those rules are meant to be broken and it has a style of film making that goes beyond the restraints of a genre.
Film Noir, meaning Black Film in French, is a very American style of film making that many directors of the forties into the fifties have tried. Some live in the genre while some have tried and moved into a different style. Hitchcock tried the genre more than once but Shadow of a Doubt was easily his most successful foray.
Starring Joseph Cotten as Uncle Charlie and Terese Wright as his niece Charlie, Shadow of a Doubt is Hitchcock’s favorite of all the films he made. It is also my own personal favorite Hitchcock film. Uncle Charlie is a black widower who murdered several older women. Adored by his namesake niece and his older sister, Uncle Charlie comes to his family’s home in Northern California after the cops begin to hone in on him.
Joseph Cotton’s performance as Uncle Charlie is among one of my favorite performances of all time. One reason being the incredible dinner scene. Without giving to much away, young Charlie is beginning to have her doubts about her beloved Uncle after she meets one of the detectives on his trail. Uncle Charlie is beginning to lose his grip as he lets his family get a little too close to the personality behind the facade.
Note: Hume Cronyn’s film debut playing older than his years. Joseph Cotton delivers a performance unlike any performance he gave before. Most well known as the good guy to Orson Welles less likable characters, Cotton went against type in the gamble of his career.
Let’s go back to the early days of Hitchcock. In 1930 Alfred Hitchcock was still a budding director; co-written by Hitchcock, his wife Alma Reville and Walter C. Mycroft it is based on a book and play Enter Sir John by Clemence Dane and Helen Simpson. The third talkie film directed by the future master of suspense Murder! may not be one of his most popular films but when you watch it you will see the directors signature from the beginning.
Actress Diana Baring, played by Norah Baring, is accused of murdering fellow actress Edna Druce when she is found in a daze with blood on her clothes and the weapon at her feet. She has no recollection of the events and the police arrest her due to the damning evidence. The two young actresses are thought to be rivals and she withholds information that could help the police. After she is found guilty, juror and actor-manager Sir John Menier played by Herbert Marchass, feels responsible so he begins investigating the crime to prove her innocence.
His investigation leads him to another actor in the troupe. Menier fakes an audition, calling in actor Handell Fane, who often plays cross-dressing roles. When Fane realizes that he is accusing him of the crime he leaves and goes to his job in the circus. When he realizes that he is caught, Fane hangs himself while performing his trapeze act. If it wasn’t for the work of Menier, Diana would have suffered that same fate in prison.
Murder! has me feeling more sympathy towards the actual perpetrator of the crime than I do for the women falsely accused. Considering the time of this film I highly doubt that was the intention but also, knowing Hitchcock, he probably wanted us to feel things far beyond our own comfort zones. Was that intentional?I don’t know, but like in all art, it is entirely up to our own interpretation.
Murder! is available to watch on Amazon Prime as well as on various free streaming sites.
Psycho was the first Hitchcock film that I had the pleasure of seeing. I watched it on television and instantly fell in love with the film, its cast and the master mind behind the movie. Psycho is easily his most recognizable film among modern day film audiences. Made in 1960 Psycho was adapted from a book by Robert Bloch. Alfred Hitchcock’s meticulous planing was the reason behind audiences ignorance at the film plot even though the book was published a year prior to the film. There is no way this could happen today. Alfred Hitchcock’s appearance in psycho was at the 0.06.39 mark. He is seen outside of Crane’s work as she enters wearing a cowboy hat.
4) Rear Window
Starring Grace Kelly in her second picture with Hitchcock and James Stewart in one of his many collaborations with the director. For some Hitchcock’s appearance in this film might be hard to spot but once you know you know. While Jimmy Stewart peers out the window at his neighbors he looks into the songwriter played by Ross Bagdasarian known for Alvin and the Chipmunks. While staring into his apartment he sees Bagdasarian on the piano as Hitchcock stands behind him fixing a clock. It is widely believed by some that Hitchcock broke the first wall in this one. A thought that never occurred to me. We he turns to talk to the songwriter he is suppose to be looking at the audience but Bagdasarian however responds to Hitchcock. I did not see his cameo in this film the first time I sat down to watch it. At one point in one of my viewings of this film I saw what I thought was him but I left uncertain so thanks to the internet I was able to assure myself that, that was indeed him across the courtyard. He appears 25 minutes into the film.
3)Strangers on a Train
I do have an obsession with this film. It is constantly vying with Shadow of a Doubt for the top space on my favorite film list. Appearing ten minutes into the film Hitchcock is carrying a Double Bass as he passes Farley Granger as he exits the train. Whats great about this cameo is Hitchcock’s appearance with the Double Bass contributes to the theme of doubles.
2) To Catch a Thief
Alfred Hitchcock appeared at the 0:09:40 mark in what I think is the funniest of all his Cameos. It what is arguably the hardest to miss cameo you may end up laughing out loud at this one.
Easily his most cleaver appearance in a film Hitchcock At the 0:25 mark Hitchcock appears in a before and after add in a news paper article. A group of survivors of a torpedoed ship find themselves in the same boat with one of the men who sunk it. Little known by modern day audiences, Hitchcock’s Lifeboat is a unique thrill ride for the director. Written by John Steinbeck at Hitchcock’s request the minimalist set adds to the suspense.
There you have it. My Five Favorite Hitchcock Cameos. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to read this post. If you like what you see don’t forget to like and follow. What are some of you favorite cameos?
Copyright holder for image : Paramount Pictures.
"Is the cinema more important than life?" Francois Truffaut