Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lovers and Other Stranglers: Alfred Hitchcock's STRANGERS ON A TRAIN


(Caution! Spoilers Ahead!)

Some people complain that they can’t read the same suspense novel multiple times, because they know how it all turns out. That doesn’t hold true for me; in fact, I read the endings of mysteries first! If the ending intrigues me enough, I’ll start over and read the book from start to finish. Same goes for movies; somehow I’m always able to watch them with fresh eyes no matter how many times I’ve seen them (though if the fam and I are watching movies at home, we’re not above making the occasional good-natured quip about some element in a much-viewed, much-loved movie). I first saw and loved Strangers on a Train (SoaT) during my childhood in the Bronx, when my older brother and I watched it on The Late Late Show (the middle-of-the-night movie show, not Craig Ferguson’s CBS talk show). In all the years I’ve seen SoaT since then, I’ve noticed many things about the film that somehow escaped me during countless viewings.

Poor Guy! He's just kicked up trouble!
Loosely adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s novel, the SoaT script was begun by mystery writer extraordinaire Raymond Chandler. When Chandler and Hitchcock failed to get along, Ben Hecht’s assistant Czenzi Ormonde took over for Chandler, with an assist by Whitfield Cook. (No surprise; the ornery Chandler also couldn’t get along with Billy Wilder when they worked together adapting James M. Cain’s Double Indemnity to the big screen.) It all starts on a New York-to-Washington train, where tennis player Guy Haines (Farley Granger) accidentally bumps his sensibly-shod feet against Bruno Antony’s (Robert Walker) snappy two-tone shoes. Brightening, Bruno asks, “I beg your pardon, but aren’t you Guy Haines?” As they talk, it turns out Bruno is a big fan of Guy’s—such a big fan, in fact, that he’s been following Guy’s exploits in the gossip columns as well as on the tennis courts. Bruno’s been reading up on Guy’s society sweetie, Anne Morton (Ruth Roman), the daughter of Senator Morton (Hitchcock perennial co-star Leo G. Carroll), and the lovebirds’ intent to wed as soon as Guy can divorce his two-timing, knocked-up slut of a wife, Miriam Joyce Haines (Laura Elliott, better known as Kasey Rogers, who played Mrs. Larry Tate on TV’s Bewitched). Boy, TMZ has nothing on Bruno! 

Smoking's bad for your health: you might meet nicotine-addicted psychos!
Those bass fiddles sure make a racquet!
Bruno is full of wild ideas, including one for the perfect murder. “I used to put myself to sleep at night figuring it out,” he sighs blissfully.  His plan involves getting two people who’ve never met before—like, say, Guy and himself. Each of them has someone they’d like to kill—like Miriam, and Bruno’s hated father. Each man commits the other man’s murder: “Crisscross!”  Bruno figures that since neither man has a motive to kill the folks they’ve killed, theoretically they’ll never get caught. Guy, being a decent, non-homicidal fellow, laughs off Bruno’s wild ideas as the blatherings of a somewhat pesky but harmless kook before leaving the train—not realizing he left behind the monogrammed cigarette lighter Anne gave him. Aw, how nice of Bruno to hold onto the lighter for Guy…. Unaware his lighter went AWOL, Guy stops at his hometown, Metcalf, a town that seems to be somewhere between Maryland and Washington, DC. (Anyone here know for sure?) Guy brought money to pay for the divorce Miriam has been hounding him about—but now that she’s pregnant with another man’s baby (or so she claims; my husband Vinnie and I have always suspected the conniving Miriam was baby-free and trying to pull a fast one), and realizes “what all that tennis nonsense of yours (has led) to” in terms of money, prestige, and the glamorous life, the sly little bitch doesn’t want to ditch. Indeed, she’s blackmailing Guy into keeping her! “Make a pretty story,” Miriam purrs, “the Senator’s daughter involved with a married man. Especially when he’s about to become a father.” Breaking the bad news to Anne in a phone booth, Guy shouts, “I could strangle her!” Uh-oh, not the best choice of words, Guy….

Little does Miriam know her number is up!
Miriam’s the Metcalf Merry-Go-Round: everyone’s had a ride!
When Bruno hears of Miriam’s thumbs-down on the divorce, he springs into sly, sinister action. Looking innocently dapper, he tails Miriam and her two boy toys to the Metcalf carnival in a suspenseful yet arousing game of cat-and-mouse between suave but psychotic Bruno and the flirty, unsuspecting Miriam. Nice touch with Miriam making jokey yet multi-layered references to “satisfy(ing) my cravings,” which her dates don’t pick up on (to borrow a line from Dial M For Murder, “but we do, don’t we?”). Bruno catches up with Miriam and strangles her in that iconic scene where her murder is reflected in her fallen eyeglasses. For me, the cries for help in the dark when Miriam’s dates find her corpse is almost as chilling as the murder itself.

Borrowing a Dark Corner ad line, flirting with Bruno is flirting with death!

Every movie needs romantic interest, by George!
Later that night, Bruno intercepts Guy as our hero’s about to enter his home. He gives Guy the late Miriam’s broken glasses the same way a cat drops dead rodents or birds at their human’s feet. “I was very careful, Guy,” Bruno calmly but proudly assures our horrified protagonist. “Even when I dropped your cigarette lighter (at the murder site), I went back to pick it up.” Guy, of course, never dreamed nutjob Bruno was serious about his murder-plot ramblings, and he sure as hell isn’t about to bump off Bruno’s dad! How could he, even if he wanted to? Guy was on the train again at the time of Miriam’s murder, and he struck up a conversation with tipsy Delaware Tech Professor Collins (memorable bit by John Brown, Life of Riley’s Digger O’Dell), treating Guy to snappy patter and a song: “There was a man/who had a goat….” Too bad Professor Collins can’t remember their chat when he’s sober. As Guy explains to Senator Morton, Anne, and sweet, saucy teenage sister Barbara (played endearingly by Hitchcock’s scene-stealing daughter Patricia Hitchcock. More about Pat shortly), “When an alibi is full of bourbon, sir, it can’t stand up.” You’d think that Guy having seen the pickled professor on the train would be enough to clear him, but it’s a case of right place, wrong time: the Metcalf police’s timetable shows that Guy could’ve left the train in time to kill Miriam, then hopped aboard another in plenty of time to join Professor Collins for a goat-themed concerto.

Everybody conga!!!
Who knew cute Barbara Morton had such fire in her eyes?
Even worse, there’s no way in hell Bruno’s gonna let Guy off the hook, especially since he still has our hero's monogrammed lighter to plant on the murder site to pin the crime on him: “It’s not my murder, Guy. It’s yours.” Soon, packages containing guns and maps of Bruno’s house  are being dropped off at the hapless Guy's door. What must the mailman think? How can our hero explain this nightmare situation to Metcalf’s Finest without getting himself into deeper guano? Since Bruno is wealthy and presents himself charmingly when he’s not knocking off conniving little liars, he can easily insinuate himself into the prestigious Morton family’s social circle, and promptly does so. My favorite example: while waiting to play tennis, Guy notices the crowd of spectators as their heads swivel back and forth, all following the ball—except Bruno, whose puckish yet unnerving gaze is fixed on Guy. When Bruno meets Babs, her ballpark resemblance to the late Miriam isn’t lost on him: similar coloring and build, even the same kind of glasses. No wonder Bruno gets, um, distracted at the Mortons’ soiree when he’s trying to playfully demonstrate the ease of strangling someone. Bruno’s subject, flibbertigibbet Mrs. Cunningham (Norma Varden, one of my favorite screen ditzes in such films as Witness for the Prosecution) is not-so-playfully almost choked as well when Bruno accidentally makes eye contact with Barbara, getting so caught up in memories of the murder that the guests have to peel his fingers off the wheezing, sobbing Mrs. Cunningham’s throat. Bruno faints, and Guy drags him to another room to recover.  

Fisticuffs ensue, and the Fisticam is there!  Go, Robert Burks!
(Click the pic to see the Fisticam in action!)
When Bruno comes to, Guy gives him another one of our favorite Hitchcock shots, the “fisticam”POW! Right in the kisser! (The “fisticam” was used well in North by Northwest, too! But I digress…) Meanwhile, poor freaked-out Barbara sobs to big sis Anne about the near-strangling. Anne puts two plus two together, and Guy finally levels with Anne about the Bruno situation. Now if only there weren’t police detectives watching Guy’s every move!
Will Bruno’s evil plan go down the drain?
Since Bruno sent Guy a gun and a key to his house, Guy decides “to pay a little social call” on dear old Dad. Pop’s not home, but Bruno is (hiding in his father's bed, yet!). When Guy tells Bruno the “deal” is off, it’s frame-up time. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to shoot you, Mr. Haines," Bruno says coldly. "I’m a very clever fellow. I’ll think of something better than that. Much better.” Anne visits the Antony mansion hoping to make peace, but Bruno drops hints about planting the lighter on the Metcalf fairgrounds at dusk. Wouldn’t you know Bruno’s gonna do it the very day that tennis pro Guy is scheduled to play at Forest Hills?

If Guy cancels the Forest Hills match, the cops shadowing him, including Detective Leslie Hennessey (character actor/director Robert Gist of Peter Gunn, among others), will know something’s fishy. The result: a classic sequence that might have been silly if it hadn't been so skillfully filmed, performed, and milked for every last drop of suspense! Hitchcock, director of photography Robert Burks, and editor William Ziegler deftly cut between Bruno’s train trip to the fairgrounds and “thoughtful, methodical player” Guy in the tennis game of his life, playing like a madman and taking crazy chances in his desperation to finish (and win) the match fast so he can beat Bruno to Metcalf. (There's a man who takes his tennis seriously! :-)) Bruno’s vendetta hits a speed bump when he accidentally drops the telltale lighter down a storm drain, buying Guy time. I particularly enjoyed the playful turn Dimitri Tiomkin’s music takes as the panicky Bruno strains to reach the lighter while onlookers suggest solutions.

Do You Know This Man?
Do you folks have any idea who played the uncredited role of the ticket-taker at what I believe is Penn Station in Strangers on a Train? I'm talking about this gent manning the ticket window when Detectives Hennessey (Robert Gist) and Hammond (John Doucette) see Guy buy a train ticket and then dash away. When the detectives ask the ticket guy where our Guy was going, he replies "Metcalf!" with great excitement, as if he was the winner of a "Be in a Hitchcock Movie" contest. Vinnie and I love this guy, whoever he is! If you have any information about this man, please leave a comment at
TotED. Thanks, Crimestoppers!
In addition to winning the tennis match, multitasker Guy gets a head start on John Law when spunky Barbara, as per their plan, delays Hennessey by flirting with him and “accidentally” dropping face powder on him. (Nowadays, Babs would have had to pitch her solid compact at him—ouch! :-)) Eventually, Bruno reaches the lighter, Metcalf, and the fairgrounds. Guy catches up with him, but so do the Metcalf police. A most unlucky chain reaction occurs as one cop's warning shot hits the carousel operator, who in turn falls on the speed lever. As an elderly carny (Harry Hines) crawls beneath the speeding carousel to turn it off, Bruno and Guy duke it out under the carousel horses’ hooves as the screaming riders hang on for dear life (for real! After that, Hitchcock swore he'd never make an actor do such a dangerous stunt again) . Bless him, Guy even manages to save a kid from being flung from the carousel while Bruno’s trying to stomp Guy’s hands loose. Alas, the carousel is shut down too abruptly (damn physics!), erupting in cataclysm, carnage and (if SoaT took place today) one hell of a class action lawsuit. Guy manages to escape with just a few bruises, but Bruno is dying, pinned beneath the wreckage. With the police surrounding them, Guy begs Bruno to stop the madness and confess to the murder. An evil bastard to the end, Bruno persists in blaming Guy for Miriam’s murder. Luckily, the witness who saw Bruno following Miriam around the fairgrounds that fateful night is there to set the lawmen straight, and as Bruno dies, his hand unclenches to reveal the incriminating lighter he never got a chance to plant. “Who was he, bud?” the witness asks Guy. “Bruno Antony,” Guy says grimly. “A very clever fellow.”

Stunt doubles? We don’t need no stinkin’ stunt doubles!
Fade in to the Mortons sitting anxiously by the phone. It rings, and Anne grabs it. It’s Guy, and Anne’s laughing and crying and saying, “Of course I’ll be there, darling.” The Morton sisters hug as Anne says, “Guy will be back tomorrow. He wants me to bring him some things.” SoaT ends with Anne and Guy sitting together on the train, smiling and talking. Another passenger sitting across from them looks up from his magazine and says, “Aren’t you Guy Haines?” Guy, ever affable, opens his mouth to answer, but Anne shoots him a look that clearly says, Remember what happened last time? Guy and Anne look at the poor man as if he’d just flashed them, then they scoot hurriedly to other seats as the gent shrugs and returns to his magazine. The End. Of course, some SoaT fans insist that this is a perfect display of the film’s much-discussed homosexual subtext, clucking over the fact that the man in that scene happens to be a clergyman, collar and all, and how it’s ever so symbolic that despite Anne and Guy’s eagerness to wed, they’re fleeing someone with the power to marry the couple. If I may say so, I think these folks are looking too hard at this particular scene. After all, it’s not like Guy and Anne are gonna get married right there on the train; people in their social stratum go for great big weddings surrounded by tons of security! :-)

The deluxe two-disc SoaT DVD set with guest commentators and extras galore has been part of our video library for a while now, but Cinemax was where I first saw the preview version back in 1992. That ending shows Anne telling Barbara that Guy needs fresh garb because “He says he looks silly in his tennis clothes.” Since we cable viewers hadn’t been alerted to the alternate ending, Cinemax got a whole bunch of outraged responses. (The fella who fielded the calls apologized and swore there was no malice intended, it just happened to be the print they’d received.)

Men, sex, ice cream—Miriam’s insatiable!
Guilt (feelings) by association had always been one of Hitchcock’s favorite themes, and it’s especially well-done in SoaT. Guy is horrified at the news of Miriam’s violent death, yet he can’t help feeling at least a tiny bit relieved to be rid of that scheming bitch. In fact, Guy and Senator Morton seem to be the closest thing to mourners that Miriam gets in the film. Witness this brittle dialogue as the Mortons break the news of Miriam’s murder to Guy, unaware that Bruno has already taken care of it:

Senator Morton:  “Dreadful business, dreadful. Poor unfortunate girl.”
Barbara:  “She was a tramp.”
Morton:  “She was a human being. Let me remind you that even the most unworthy of us has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Barbara:  “From what I hear, she pursued it in all directions.”

3 words: Class. Action. Lawsuit!
In a crazy way, despite his horrific ordeal, Guy comes out on top. Think of it: a total stranger has gotten rid of his problem. People already liked Guy even before SoaT's sinister events; they’re sympathetic to his ordeal; he gets to be a tennis champ; he beds down the Senator’s daughter; he's on the fast track to getting a cushy government job—who’s better than Guy? As for Bruno, for someone who spent so much time plotting this “crisscross” murder in his mind (and wasn't that how Hitchcock's films evolved? How's that for life imitating art and vice-versa?) before he finally found some poor slob he viewed as an ally, Bruno sure was sloppy about carrying out his wicked plan in real life. The way I see it, Bruno assumed too much. The plan could have worked if Guy really had agreed out loud to being part of the double-murder scheme and they’d actually made specific plans from the outset: “Okay, Bruno, here’s the plan. You kill Miriam on Friday at 10 p.m. in Metcalf. I’ll make sure I’m in Washington, DC with a truckload of witnesses at that time. Now here's the plan for dear old Dad….” But with wacko Bruno going ahead and setting the plan in motion unannounced, just when Guy has a weak alibi…well, the police may not suspect Bruno, but they sure as hell suspect Guy, which would surely put a crimp in Part 2 of the plan. Just goes to show that half-assed execution (no pun intended) can screw up even the best murder plot!

Some have claimed Hitchcock was notorious for favoring images and set pieces over characterization, but Hitch included more well-drawn character touches in SoaT than he gets credit for. Of course, this is also the result of the script and the nuances in the cast’s uniformly fine performances, but the atmospheric directorial touches pull it all together. For example, if you listen carefully, you’ll notice that the first time Bruno phones Guy after they meet on the train, Bruno’s stern father (Jonathan Hale) and his sweet but mentally-maladjusted mother (Marion Lorne, the second of SoaT’s future Bewitched stars; she played ditzy Aunt Clara) are arguing about him in the background, regarding a hit-and-run involving Bruno. Clearly Bruno was wreaking havoc with innocent lives long before he met poor Guy. Father wants Bruno put away where he can’t cause any more destruction, “…and if necessary, put under restraint!” Hitchcock also makes good use of tight shots of Guy to increase our sense of his claustrophobia, doom, and entrapment.

The family dynamics among the characters in SoaT, from the stylish, witty yet caring Mortons, to the sex-tinged hostility between Guy and Miriam, to the nigh-incestuous love between Bruno and his almost-equally disturbed mother, not to mention Bruno’s obvious attraction to Guy, would make a good thesis for some enterprising film student if it hasn’t already been done. Everyone is perfect in their roles, especially the two leads. The character of Bruno Antony—which, tragically, would be Robert Walker’s penultimate role—was a huge departure for Walker, best known for playing wholesome boys-next-door. (Walker’s final role was as a Communist in My Son John. He died from an adverse reaction to prescription drugs just before filming wrapped, and the filmmakers actually finished MSJ using footage from SoaT.) Why Walker didn’t get an Oscar nomination for his SoaT performance is one of cinema’s great mysteries; I bet it was some stupid reason, like the Oscar voters not wanting to give a nod to a villainous role.

Under his attractive, witty, friendly fa├žade, Bruno is the soul of guile, menace, and snobbery, and Walker plays it like he was born that way. If Walker had lived, I think he’d have been a magnificent Iago in some film version of Othello (a modern-dress version, perhaps?). Walker nails the little details about Bruno, too, starting with his appearance: impeccably groomed and attired, but with a few oddball touches, like his two-tone shoes and “Bruno” tie clip from Mother. Unlike so many thrillers where you can spot the sicko a mile away, Bruno’s a quirky yet subtle psychotic. The party scene is one of my favorites, with Bruno casually buttonholing Senator Morton to discuss his idea for “harnessing the life force. It’ll make atomic power look like the horse and buggy….”  Later at the party, when Bruno is listening to Mrs. Cunningham prattling about murder ideas before his little strangulation demonstration, he gets this bored yet exasperated look on his face, as if he’s thinking, “Oh, please! What amateurs!”

Hitchcock originally wanted William Holden to play Guy Haines, but much as Vinnie and I like Holden, we’ve always thought he would have been too assertive for the role. A William Holden kind of Guy Haines would be too sharp and cynical to let Bruno push him around; hell, I bet Bill would mop the floor with Bruno! Farley Granger had a vulnerability about him that made him a more believable Guy Haines. Sometimes his line readings have a touch of woodenness, kind of like a young Peter Weller in his Buckaroo Banzai days, and yet it comes across as a kind of intense sensitivity. Granger’s delivery works well, with Guy’s appropriately querulous note in his response when Bruno hands him Miriam’s broken glasses: “I had nothing to do with this. The police will believe me.” He sounds like he’s trying—and failing—to convince himself that what he’s saying is true, and it works beautifully.

Pat and Pop on the set
Ruth Roman has been accused of simpering her way through the role of Anne Morton, but she kept my sympathy throughout, and I’m no simper-sympathizer! :-) In addition, I felt that Roman and Granger had good romantic chemistry. But Patricia Hitchcock and Leo G. Carroll get the best lines, effortlessly stealing their scenes. Just as I’ve always thought Robert Walker should have gotten an Oscar nomination for his performance (even if it had to be posthumous, sadly), Pat Hitchcock deserved one for Best Supporting Actress as Barbara Morton. Indeed, I’ve always wished she'd had a lengthier film/stage career outside her dad’s films and TV series. Pat’s deceptively perky demeanor makes her cheeky, no-holds-barred wit all the funnier. Her growing horror at Bruno’s weird reaction to her resemblance to Miriam touched my heart, making me want to give poor Babs a big, comforting hug. In Pat’s able hands, Barbara’s the kind of girl you want as a sister or close pal. She brightly plays off Carroll well, too; for example:

Barbara (to Guy and Anne after the murder news): “Well, you two, nothing stands in your way now. You can be married right away. You’re free!”
Morton: “One doesn’t always have to say what one thinks.”
Barbara: “Father, I am not a politician.”

I got a kick out of how Carroll’s Senator Morton always thinks first of how the sinister events will affect his career. Seeing Det. Hennessey shadowing Guy, he says, “Is he likely to picket my office?” When Guy confirms this (with a mischievous twinkle in his eye), Morton suggests that aspiring politician Guy should work at home for a while, “for your own peace of mind, of course.”  Carroll drolly conveys Morton’s elitist attitude, too. When he finds out Guy’s would-be alibi is a professor, Morton asks, with an air of expectancy, “Harvard?” When Guy tells him it’s Delaware Tech, Morton looks disappointed, as if he’s thinking, Damn it, man, couldn’t you have spoken with someone from Princeton, at least?  Another great Carroll/Morton moment comes after Bruno’s aborted strangulation attempt on Mrs. Cunningham. He tsk-tsks, “First thing you know, they’ll be talking about orgies.” After a beat, he says, “I’d better get back!” Off he goes! :-)

SoaT even looks fabulous, from Burks’s sleek black-and-white cinematography to Ted Haworth’s art direction, especially the train set (no pun intended). Those wonderful Art Deco-style touches, and such niceties as a desk with pens in the Observation Car—did mass transportation ever really look so glamorous? I love train travel myself, though I don’t always get opportunities to take advantage of it, but SoaT is the next best thing!



13 comments:

  1. As of this writing, Turner Classic Movies will be airing STRANGERS ON A TRAIN as part of their "Essentials" series on Saturday, October 9th at 8 p.m. ET! Watch it and enjoy!

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  2. My dear pal and fellow writer Michael Wolff shared his thoughts on today's blog post. You're too kind, Michael -- thanks! (If you haven't yet read Michael's hilarious and heartwarming novel COSIMO'S RAVEN, what are you waiting for? http://www.amazon.com/Cosimos-Raven-Michael-Wolff/dp/1434854388)

    Here's what Michael had to say:


    Hello, Dorian,

    I'm still tingling over your comments on The Chairman, but you nicely followed it up with comments on a Hitchcock film which I also rank among my favorites.

    I especially wanted to thank you for the comments you made concerning a person I felt had an undeservedly unsung career in Hollywood: Patricia Hitchcock. Like you, I always wished she'd graced the silver screen much more, and have thoroughly enjoyed the few times she did (hey, DVD people . . . how about a Pat Hitchcock boxed set?). I've often suspected that Hitchcock himself was tempted to use his daughter more often than he did . . . otherwise how to explain such near misses (pun intended) as Joan Tetzel in The Paradine Case, or Jane Wyman in Stage Fright? To me the scene where Babs turns to Guy and whispers that she felt she was the target of Bruno's "strangulation fantasy" (her eyes staring mournfully and fearfully into the camera) has always struck me as the textbook example of realizing one has been playing with fire. Characters in dramatic stories have often played with fire and ended up burned . . . Hitchcock, however, had the unique talent of seeing that others were just as equally burned, with the main character unscathed (at least physically).

    (Memo to myself: add "Near Miss" to my story/novel title file.)

    Another good piece.

    Michael

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  3. Terrific review, Dorian! By the way, I'd always thought Robert Walker committed suicide. Glad to be set straight even though it's still so sad that he died so young. I loved him in ONE TOUCH OF VENUS with Ava Gardner as Venus de Milo.

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  4. Yvette, I'm so pleased that you enjoyed my review of STRANGERS ON A TRAIN -- thanks very much! Although Robert Walker didn't commit suicide, he almost might as well have, poor guy. By all accounts, Walker was never the same after then-wife Jennifer Jones divorced him for her second husband, producer David O. Selznick, who'd made her a star. Such a sad story. Interestingly enough, today I was watching one of Walker's PRIVATE HARGROVE comedies and thinking what a multifaceted career he could have had. At least we have his films to remember him by. Do you suppose Walker and the so-recently deceased Farley Granger are in Heaven swapping reminiscences about filming STRANGERS... with Hitchcock? :-)

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  5. That was wonderful! You reminded me that I haven't watched "Strangers on a Train" in absolutely ages. Nice to know that can be rectified shortly.

    I agree, the Academy's failure to nominate Walker is shameful and Pat Hitchcock is a treat.

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  6. Thanks for your kind words, Caftan Woman! Glad we're in agreement about Robert Walker and Patricia Hitchcock. By the way, according to the TCM Web site, SoaT will also be airing on TCM on Thursday, December 22nd at 11:15 AM. Think of it as an early-ish Christmas gift! :-)

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  7. Dorian,
    Awwww! Strangers On A Train...what a classic? The plot, the film is referenced so often. As a matter of fact I just heard it referenced on CSI Las Vegas this past week.

    As for reading book endings etc I have a large collection of true crime books by Ann Rule etc that I've read more than once. Of course my favorite true crime book is Fatal Vision which was written by my friend Joe McGinniss. (Hi Joe!) I think I've revisited it at least 10 time through the years. The film adaptation starring Karl Malden was even decent.

    This genre is my favorite by far! Your in-depth review delivered and then some. So sorry it took so long to get over here and comment but it was so worth it! And I agree with your assessment on the actors deserving Oscars or at least a nod then Barbara making the perfect sister or friend.
    Brilliant Team B, as always.
    Page

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  8. Page, I speak for Team Bartilucci as well as myself when I say I'm not only thrilled that you enjoyed my STRANGERS ON A TRAIN remix (now with Fisticam, thanks to Vin :-)), but awed that you know writer Joe McGinniss, who was also one of my dear late Mom's favorite writers! Thanks a million, my friend!

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  9. Hey, everybody, here's a STRANGERS ON A TRAIN TCM schedule update: It'll be on TCM *TOMORROW*, Sunday, October 2nd, at 5:00 P.M. EST! Set your DVRs as needed! :-)

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  10. Dorian, I just watched STRANGERS ON A TRAIN for the first time and then visited this post, which I'd been saving. I thoroughly enjoyed it -- you have a gift for pointing out interesting moments and making me smile while you do it! I linked to your post at the end of mine so others can hopefully enjoy it too. :)

    Best wishes,
    Laura

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  11. Laura, thanks so much for your praise of my SoaT post! I'm especially flattered and honored that you enjoyed my cheeky SoaT review enough to recommend it and provide a link to it on your own awesome blog, which happens to be among my favorite blogs! You're the best!

    And hey, everyone, if by some twist of fate you haven't already read and enjoyed Laura's terrific SoaT post over at her stellar blog LAURA'S MISCELLANEOUS MUSINGS, here's the link:

    http://laurasmiscmusings.blogspot.com/2011/11/tonights-movie-strangers-on-train-1951.html

    Thanks again, Laura! You're always welcome to drop by and join the TotED conversation any time!

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  12. Hi! I found this wonderful blog when I was surfing the Net looking for any info about... you know who? The "Metcalf" ticket guy! We were watching the movie a few days ago on TV and were greatly amused by the unknown actor that delivered his single line with so much uncalled for enthusiasm. (Thanks so much for the cap, btw!)My family and myself commented that there HAD to be a story there asking to be disclosed! We just knew we couldn't be the only ones to be intrigued by the man. I'm very happy to have found you!
    I'm sorry I haven't got any further info yet, but I can promise that we'll continue digging for some answers to these important questions: who's this guy? Why did H give him a close-up shot? Why was he so excited? Did he have any clue as to the part he was playing in the movie? Oh, so many questions! If we come up with some answers, I'll happily share them with you! All I know so far is that, apparently, that particular moment wasn't even in the original script. The plot thikens!
    Thanks again for showing us that we are not alone in our search. And thanks for your great blog!
    Carol

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  13. Carol (and Tom), I'm delighted to meet you, and I'm so glad you dropped by TotED. It's great to know we're enthusiastic kindred spirits in our mutual search for the gent my hubby Vinnie and I have affectionately dubbed "Metcalf Man"! Whoever he is/was, he's one of the highlights of STRANGERS ON A TRAIN for us. By all means, Carol, let's keep each other posted on the continuing search for Metcalf Man and the story behind his enthusiasm! :-)

    In the meantime, Carol, our family wishes you and Tom a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Happy Winter Holiday of Your Choice from all of us at TotED!

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