Monday, April 03, 2006

Strangers on a Train

Strangers on a Train (Alfred Hitchcock, 1951) [6]
I had just finished Patricia Highsmith’s novel of the same name that this film was based on for a class in crime fiction and wanted to see how the film stacks up. All being told it was a bit of a disappointment, mostly due to the drastic changes in story between the two. I don’t really think this is a bad film; Hitchcock was a master craftsman. It’s just that I thought the book was much better. What’s missing from the film that really bothers me is the depth of psychological darkness that Highsmith gives to the main characters. Hitchcock strips all that away so there can be a hero and a villain and the standard upbeat Hollywood ending. There are other minor details that get changed but nothing that irks me as much as what I think is a dumbing down of the Guy/Bruno relationship. I’ve been more respectful than a fan of Hitchcock’s work, and this film is tight enough of a suspense thriller that I have to give it a decent grade despite its faults.

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