The majority of our Deaths up to now have been at the gruesome end of the scale, so here’s a murder scene that doesn’t spill a drop of blood, yet is a fine example of creative filmmaking and is still, in its own way, quite nasty. Now the name of Alfred Hitchcock will be known to all readers, the Master Of Suspense behind timeless classics such as The Birds and Vertigo, in fact he remains probably the only old-time director that everyone has probably heard of. He was actually constantly irritating the censors by pushing sex and violence as far as he could go, from the non-stop kiss in Notorious to the shower death in Psycho.
Strangers On A Train is one of his most sheerly exciting movies, a breathless, clever thriller with a wonderful premise. Guy is trapped in a loveless marriage with Miriam, who fools around but won’t grant him a divorce so he can marry his new love. Bruno suffers from a domineering father. One day, the two meet on a train. Bruno suggests he kills Miriam and Guy kills his father. Guy doesn’t think Bruno means it. Unfortunately, Bruno is a psychopath, and most definately means it.
He spies Miriam at a fairground, flirting with two admirers. He follows them, and is soon spotted by Miriam, but she seems oddly attracted to her stalker. He follows her into ‘the Tunnel Of Love’, and you think he’s got her when you see his shadow come up behind her and you then hear a scream, but no, it’s Hitch playing with us, dragging things out. Eventually, on a river bank, she is seperated from the other two men, and bumps into Guy, who offers her a cigarette, before placing his hands on her neck and squeezing. Miriam’s glasses fall to the ground, and we cut to a close-up of the glasses, through which we can see her being choked to death, but all distorted and nightmarish.
The whole sequence, not just the murder, is sheer brilliance with its mixing of suspense and very black humour, not to mention the way it manipulates you into almost wanting the heartless strumpet to be murdered. Perfect evidence of Hitch’s skill, and why he is so referred.