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Strangers on a Train(1951)

Patricia Highsmith’s first novel proved a perfect match for Alfred Hitchcock’s key themes, particularly the transference of guilt and the duality of good and evil. In need of a hit after four flops in a row, he snapped up the rights and then teamed with mystery great Raymond Chandler to write the screenplay. Sadly, the two never connected, and Hitchcock threw out most of his script (though Warner Bros. insisted on keeping his prestigious name in the credits). Instead, Hitchcock finished the script with his wife, Alma Reville, and Ben Hecht’s personal assistant, Czenzi Ormond. Together they developed iconic moments such as a murder reflected in a pair of glasses, the struggle to recapture a cigarette lighter that’s key to the case and the finale on an out-of-control merry-go-round. Although Hitchcock disliked having to work with Jack Warner’s choice for leading lady, Ruth Roman, he scored a major casting coup with fading matinée idol Robert Walker, who plays a dissolute playboy who suggests trading murders with a tennis pro (Farley Granger). The perfect blend of menace and frivolity is created once Walker completes his half of the bargain, which the tennis star considers a joke. The result was one of Hitchcock’s most successful films, featuring one of his most charismatic villains. (d. Alfred Hitchcock, 101m, Digital)

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