Seán Hall begins a new series looking at the great directing career of Alfred Hitchcock

Strangers On A Train was released on June 30th, 1951, directed by prolific auteur, Alfred Hitchcock, who had made over forty films before this in just over three decades. When many people think of Alfred Hitchcock, stars like Cary Grant, James Stewart and Grace Kelly spring to mind, yet, unless one was a Hitchcock aficionado, the cast of this film, which is ranked with the likes of Vertigo and North by Northwest as one of his classics, would be largely unfamiliar.

The film was an adaptation of a novel of the same name, written by Patricia Highsmith, which had been released the previous year. Hitchcock obtained the rights for only $7,500, a pittance in Hollywood terms, since this was only Highsmith’s first novel.
Another famous novelist, Raymond Chandler, was one of the screenwriters for the film, who regarded the premise as a “silly little story”. Chandler’s name did not appear in the credits however – all of his additions were removed since he had fallen out with Hitchcock, not just on story, but for deriding his weight!

Both film and book follow a similar plot: a famous tennis player, Guy Haines (Farley Granger) meets a sociable stranger named Bruno Antony (Robert Walker) whilst taking a train.

Bruno expresses an unhealthy knowledge in Guy’s private life, particularly the subject of his ongoing divorce and current relationship with a Senator’s daughter, Anne Morton (Ruth Roman).

Bruno proposes hypothetically that Guy murder his father, who wishes to institutionalise his son, and he murder Guy’s wife, so that no one can tie the other to the murder since neither know each other.

Guy’s wife decides to cancel the divorce, ruining his love life so she can continue to enjoy the lifestyle of being a celebrity’s wife.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own