4.0, United States/Canada

Strangers on a Train

1951 / Alfred Hitchcock > As much as I enjoyed Vertigo and North by Northwest, neither of them gripped me in the traditional sense of a suspense the way Strangers on a Train did. From the get-go, you know something is going on, something sinister, but you just can’t get the hang of it. And then when you realize that you may have underestimated Bruno Anthony (played impeccably by Robert Walker) just a bit, the real shock arises. Too often, we want the bad guy to win because we’re bored, but here, in the face of what is a human evil, I found it easy to bind myself to the good guys and hope for victory.

Sadly, Walker passed away soon after filming, leaving behind one of the best portrayals of a villain I’ve ever seen. In contrast, Farley Granger is wooden as the leading man. One could argue he balances Walker, but that would be giving the casting director too much credit.