Tag Archives: Film Recommendations

Suspense Saturday: Strangers on a Train

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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.

 

 

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Farley Granger as Guy Haines and Robert Walker as Bruno Anthony

 

 

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.

Netflix Pick of the Week: Sunset Boulevard

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Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond

Los Angeles resident and famed director Billy Wilder wondered about the lives of retired actresses famous in the days of silent pictures. They still lived in the grand Beverly Hills houses they bought during their career. How is their existence molded by their past lives as film stars? Wilder concocted his own story and imagined the world of an aging, reclusive former film star he named Norma Desmond.

Starring former Vamp of the silver screen, Gloria Swanson, Sunset Boulevard was destined to be a hit. Along side the legendary actress, William Holden starred as down on his luck screenwriter Joe Gillis.  Told in flashback and narrated by Gillis as he recalls the events leading up to his death.

Sunset Boulevard stands out in a genre that had become saturated by the time of its release. A large part of that is most likely due to co-writer Charles Brackett and Writer/Director Wilder who is famous for his work in Noir; having directed two of the best in the genre. Before Sunset Boulevard, Wilder made Double Indemnity, a 1944 Film Noir starring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray. Double Indemnity is often sited as the film that fits into most categories in the genre and six years later Wilder would direct Desmond, I mean Gloria Swanson in her close up.

Even if you haven’t seen this film chances are you can picture it. A garish middle aged women, a reclusive film star who lives in the past; her dreams of a comeback subverted by her break from reality. Sunset Boulevard’s image of Desmond descending the stairs is engrained in the minds of film lovers everywhere.

Sunset Boulevard is one of my favorites from the genre. It almost acts as a satire of both Film Noir and the industry itself. Not a lot has changed in the years since so many women everywhere can relate to the harsh reality of aging. Apparently we just aren’t as appealing to an audience of men that want us stuck in our twenties. For actresses their careers are harder to lengthen due to the lack of roles offered to women as they age. For men however their careers seem to get better. Norma Desmond is a product of the fantasy world that created her and spat her out when she got a little too old to stand next to the men her age. Stuck in the fantasy world of her own making and with the help of her butler Norma Desmond tries to find a way back into the world she once loved so much but it is her break with reality that will be her final undoing.

Sunset Boulevard is available to watch on Netflix. Below is a clip from the film and an introduction into the crazy world of Desmond herself.

“I am big, it’s the pictures that got small”.