STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (1951) B/W 104m dir: Alfred Hitchcock
w/Robert Walker, Farley Granger, Ruth Roman, Leo G. Carroll, Patricia Hitchcock, Kasey Rogers, Marion Lorne, Jonathan Hale, Howard St. John, John Brown, Norma Varden, Robert Gist, Laura Elliot
One of Hitchcock's most masterful films, the plot concerns Bruno (Walker) who meets Guy (Granger) on board a train and suggests that they "criss-cross" murders, that Bruno get rid of the wife who is giving Guy grief and that Guy reciprocate for him by killing his father.
From Georges Sadoul's Dictionary of Films: "Some of its editing effects (the cross-cutting between the tennis match and Bruno with the lighter) and photographic images (the murder of Miriam reflected in a pair of glasses with one lens shattered) are famous and the dramatic final chase and climax [staged in an amusement park] are among Hitchcock's most unforgettable sequences. Robert Walker gives a memorably disturbing performance as the unbalanced killer, especially in the scene at the Mortons' party where he discusses murder and demonstrates silent strangling techniques."
From the Movie Diva website (www.moviediva.com), this 2014 article about the film:
"Silky Bruno has an indecent proposal for a total stranger, exchange murder victims (a wife, a father) and nobody will be the wiser. Adapted by Raymond Chandler from a Patricia Highsmith novel, this is one of the Master of Suspense’s masterpieces. 'Fast, exciting, and woven with wicked style, this is one of Hitchcock’s most efficient and ruthlessly delicious thrillers' (BBC).
"The Spring film series, Suspense Under the Sun, concluded with two smashing versions of Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley, one film under that title, and the other, Purple Noon. So, I was in a Highsmith mood when I began programming for fall. Certainly, the film she is most closely associated with is Alfred Hitchcock’s adaptation of her first novel, Strangers on a Train, which inaugurated his most productive decade, beginning with this spectacular thriller, and ending, a bit into the 1960s, with The Birds.
"Highsmith lived an unusual life. A lesbian at a time when she had to remain publicly in the closet, she presented one face to the world, and was another person in her private life. She knew all too well the 'splintered identity, insecurity, inferiority, obsession with an object of adoration, and the violence that springs from repression' (Wilson 196). Bruno, the psychopath at the center of her first novel, shares these characteristics with Tom Ripley, the anti-hero of five of her novels.
"She was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and shared a birthday (January 19) with Edgar Allan Poe. Her writing owes debts both to him, to hard boiled fiction of the 30s and 40s but also her love for bleak, existential philosophy. Will Self, on a BBC tv program said, 'I think she’ll be remembered as one of the great mappers of the topography of criminal psychopathology, and an anticipator, in a way, of the collective obsession with serial killers and evil that has come to pass, a precursor, if you like' (Wilson 6). Grahame Green, who greatly admired her writing called her “the poet of apprehension ... in a world without moral endings ... nothing is certain when we have crossed this frontier' (Wilson 7).
"She had a miserable childhood, calling it 'a little hell.' Her parents were divorced before she was born (at her father’s urging, her mother drank turpentine in hopes of terminating her pregnancy) and she hated her stepfather so much, she constantly daydreamed of murdering him, an impulse certainly echoed in Bruno.
"Susanna Clapp, writing in The New Yorker called her 'a balladeer of stalking. The fixation of one person on another --- oscillating between attraction and antagonism --- figures prominently in almost every Highsmith tale' (Wilson 5). Highsmith said, 'From a dramatic point of view, criminals are interesting; at least at one [particular] moment they act with a free mind, and [feel like they] do not owe anyone an explanation. I find the general public’s interest for Justice rather dull and artificial, since neither Life nor Nature are concerned about whether Justice has been rendered or not' (Lanzoni 194).
"She thought the true 20th century everyman was the psychopath. She wanted to write a novel, seen through the eyes of someone 'abnormal' with whom the writer sympathizes so much that the reader identifies completely. She thought only stupid people were content. 'I believe people should be allowed to go the whole hog with their perversions, abnormalities, unhappinesses ... Mad people are the only active people, they have built the world' she wrote in 1942. This philosophy was one reason that her books were not popular in their day, her amorality runs counter to the crime and punishment mode of detective fiction.
"Highsmith had been toying with the idea of two characters who exchange murders since 1945. At first, they were two men, Alfred and Lawrence, who wished to be rid of the women they no longer loved. She didn’t begin writing in earnest until two years later, and she loved writing about the relationship between the two men, and particularly Bruno. 'I am so happy when Bruno reappears in the novel. I love him!' (Wilson 123). But, she struggled and had only managed to complete one third. She applied to Yaddo, the writer’s colony in upstate New York, for a place to write in privacy. In the inscribed copy of the novel she donated to them, she wrote, 'To Yaddo --- with profoundest gratitude for the summer of peace that let me write this book' (Wilson 139). Her appreciation was so profound, in fact, that they were the sole beneficiary of her estate. In spite of the fact that she only spent two months there completing Strangers on a Train, she felt the experience transformative.
"And Bruno, he and Bruno. Each was what the other had not chosen to be, the cast-off self, what he thought he hated, but perhaps in reality, loved.
"For a moment, he thought he might be mad. He thought, madness and genius often overlapped, too. But what mediocre lives most people lived. In middle waters, like most fish!
"No, there was that duality permeating nature down to the tiny proton and electron within the tiniest atom. Science was now at work trying to split the electron, and perhaps it couldn’t because perhaps only an idea was behind it: the one and only truth, that the opposite is always present. Who knew whether an electron was matter or energy? Perhaps God and the Devil danced hand in hand around every single electron! (Highsmith 180-81)
"The beginning of the novel, the early meetings between Guy and Bruno, and Bruno’s determination to complete his half of the murder pact are quite similar in the novel, but the film diverges after that. Bruno is not just crazy, but also a black-out alcoholic, and drinking figures prominently in the novel. Many of the set pieces we admire in this film are completely original to the imagination of Hitchcock and his collaborators.
"Strangers on a Train was Highsmith’s first published novel. The book got tremendous reviews. A New Yorker critic wrote, 'There is a warning on the jacket that this book will make you think twice before you speak to a stranger on a train. This is unquestionably the understatement of the year ... A horrifying picture of an oddly engaging young man, who has all the complexes you ever heard of” (Wilson 168).
"It took only a few days after publication for Hollywood to come calling. Hitchcock won the anonymous bidding war, and when Highsmith realized he had gotten the rights 'in perpetuity' for $6000, she was irked, although she admitted, 'that wasn’t a bad price for my first book' (Wilson 169). Highsmith was pleased with Hitchcock’s version, particularly Robert Walker’s performance as Bruno, but like Hitchcock, scoffed at the limited talents of leading lady Ruth Roman. 'I thought it was ludicrous that he’s (Guy’s) aspiring to be a politician, and that he’s supposed to be in love with that stone angel' (Wilson 170).
"Alfred Hitchcock felt an immediate affinity for the first-time author’s characters when he first read Strangers on a Train (fittingly, on a train). He and his wife, Alma Reville, and the writer Whitfield Cook, discussed the possibilities excitedly, with the added plus that the unknown author’s book would be cheap to acquire. Hitchcock loved the criss cross murder idea, but felt much of the rest of the book ripe for transformation.
"Bruno is a disgusting alcoholic in the novel, but Hitchcock imagined him a dapper killer, on the order of Uncle Charlie in Shadow of a Doubt. Guy, written as a Modernist architect, would become a tennis player, a sport Hitchcock played and loved. Setting the story partly in Washington, D. C. would allow Cook to include an anti-House Committee on Un-American Activities subtext. Although HUAC targeted suspected communists, they also persecuted 'sex perverts,' homosexuals working in the government who were believed to be vulnerable to exposure, at a time when homosexuality was criminalized. Robert L. Carringer found the reimagining of Guy 'a man of indeterminate sexual identity found in circumstances making him vulnerable to being compromised' a subtle anti-HUAC message that Hitchcock and Cook believed they could get past the censors (McGilligan 443). Walker’s menacing allure dominated the film and added a twist to the intended subversion, he was a straight actor playing gay, while Granger, a gay actor, played straight. Another kind of criss cross.
"After the original treatment, Hitchcock looked for a writer whose name would add prestige to the script, and finally signed crime novelist Raymond Chandler. They clashed almost instantly and although his name is in the credits, he had practically nothing to do with the finished film. Meanwhile, filming had already begun, with backgrounds shot in Washington DC at Union Station and recognizable monuments, and at the Davis Cup in Forest Hills, NY. Hitchcock had hired another writer, lacking Chandler’s fame, but much more sympathetic to his vision. At his first meeting with Czenzi Ormonde, Hitchcock held his nose, and holding Chandler’s script gingerly, dumped it in a waste basket. Using Whitfield Cook’s treatment, she would write characters and dialogue that met with Hitchcock’s approval, along with Barbara Keon, and of course, the director himself.
"Robert Walker was usually cast in 'boy next door' roles, and the studio approved of his unconventional casting. His personal life had a lot of turmoil. His wife, Jennifer Jones had an affair with, and later married, powerful producer David O. Selznick. Walker began drinking heavily and suffered with mental health issues that resulted in his institutionalization. This would be his first film following his release. Granger and Walker collaborated easily, and Granger remembered Walker fondly. But before the film opened, Walker was dead at 32, from a combination of alcohol and a sedative administered by his psychiatrist. He never saw the rave reviews that would have invigorated his career.
"Hitchcock’s first choice for Guy was William Holden, still relatively unknown. But, he agreed to Farley Granger with whom he had worked in Rope. Samuel Goldwyn had signed the handsome Granger, only 17, to a contract right out of high school. After playing a couple of small parts, he co-starred in Nicolas Ray's They Live by Night, with Cathy O’Donnell, as a doomed couple on the run, which brought positive reviews. The couple was reunited in Side Street, a tense film noir directed by Anthony Mann on great New York City locations. Strangers on a Train is by far his most famous role. After starring in Senso for Luchino Visconti, in Italy, Granger, frustrated with the Hollywood typecasting that relegated him to 'sensitive young man' roles, bought out his Goldwyn contract in the mid 1950s and moved to New York City, where he dedicated himself to the stage.
"Ruth Roman was assigned Anne, the trusting fiancee. She suffers from a dramatic lack of sex appeal. Hitchcock had asked for a little known actress named Grace Kelly for the role, but the producers refused to pay her loan-out fees, on top of those for Granger and Walker.
"Sometimes, Hitchcock got exactly the actor he wanted. He wanted Marian Lorne, a stage actress, for Bruno’s mother, even though, in the book, she was young looking and sexy. This was her first of Lorne’s only two screen appearances. Famous for her television work, especially in Bewitched, it’s hard to believe she did not appear in more movies.
"The film had many electrifying visual effects, and the only Oscar nomination the film received was for Robert Burks’ cinematography. As always, camera tricks combine with more straightforward footage, and as you know, following Hitchcock’s storyboards carefully, with little extra footage that a meddling producer could use to change his intent. The climactic fairground scene combined of miniatures with a full-size carousel. 'But, my hands still sweat when I think of that scene today. You know that little man actually crawled under that spinning carousel. If he’d raised his head by an inch, he’d have been killed. I’ll never do anything like that again' (Hitchcock/Truffaut 197). Some of Hitchcock’s most fondly remembered sequences are in this film. This also had the largest role that his daughter, Pat Hitchcock played in one of his films, as Anne’s younger sister, Barbara. Her father’s macabre sense of humor is well in evidence in the part she plays.
"The film is a beautiful example of the film noir technique of doubling, Guy and Bruno as mirror images, good and evil, the way Guy’s wife looks like his fiancee’s sister, and so on. Hitchcock said, 'I was quite pleased with the over-all form of the film and with the secondary characters. I particularly liked the woman who was murdered, you know, the bitchy wife who worked in a record shop; Bruno’s mother was good, too --- she was just as crazy as her son' (Hitchcock/Truffaut 198).
"[Sources:] Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith by Andrew Wilson, Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith, Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light by Patrick McGilligan, The Complete Hitchcock by Paul Condon and Jim Sangster, Hitchcock/Truffaut, The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies by Vito Russo, Include Me Out by Farley Granger (A note about Granger’s autobiography ... it was a total hoot! He slept with lots of beautiful people, boys and girls, and if you want to know who was gay in 1940s-50s Hollywood, just ask Farley)."
Notes for a lecture on the film:
STRANGERS ON A TRAIN: Hitchcock's 1st film with Robert Burks: his cinematographer on 11 subsequent films including:
REAR WINDOW / VERTIGO / THE BIRDS
Patricia Highsmith: rough outlines of her book kept: Guy changed from architect: more conflict with tennis player: idea of criss-cross:
novel: Bruno's father murdered: Guy must stand trial / the object: volume of Plato: changed to lighter
STRANGERS: scenario by Raymond Chandler & Czenzi Ormonde: adaptation by Whitfield Cook & Hitchcock:
adaptation: changed Guy's potential father-in-law from millionaire to senator: disquieting element: potential scandal
Highsmith novel: spread all over country: Hitchcock: centers film in Washington DC, Forest Hills, Metcalf:
Chandler: responsible for tough-minded school of literature: created Philip Marlowe: was brought in to work on dialog:
Hitchcock to Truffaut: his work not satisfactory: maybe Chandler's work too much Chandler not enough Hitchcock
Hitchcock's use of doubling: linked to technical influences of German studios: German expressionism: more importantly:
serves as vehicle for Hitchcock to express his views on modern world as morally ambiguous & chaotic in nature:
result of doubling: disorienting to viewer: keeps us off-balance
Hitchcock dealing with fears on 2 levels: surface fears: murder, etc.
underlying fears: SHADOW OF A DOUBT: incest / STRANGERS ON A TRAIN: homosexuality
STRANGERS: another pair of Hitchcock doubles: hero: Guy / villain: Bruno
parallels with SHADOW OF A DOUBT: Bruno: like Uncle Charlie:
attractive figure / somewhat psychopathic / strangles women / dominated by mother
what traits do Bruno & Guy share? both: men / about same age / use trains as transportation /
have someone in family causing problems &need to get rid of person / interest in tennis / same social class? murder?
also many differences between Bruno & Guy: Bruno: a psychopath / Guy: backbone?
Bruno's energy makes him attractive: especially next to Guy who's bland & apathetic:
casting: Granger no match for Walker's magnetism
Bruno: most compelling character in film: smoothly elegant villain: like Uncle Charlie:
his character: associated with darkness: calling out to Guy from shadows / amusement park: "what time does it get dark?" /
dresses in dark clothing / dog standing guard: Cerebus: guardian of underworld /
Bruno's boat in tunnel of love: Pluto: god of underworld
all this: used by Hitchcock to his advantage: clouding moral climate of film: Bruno most attractive character in film
Guy: full of ambiguities: refuses to murder Bruno's father: but compromised in other ways:
1. at least partly: his interest in Ann motivated by political contacts & career her father would help him with after tennis
2. very clear: he wants Miriam dead: "I could strangle her": dissolve to close up of Bruno's hand's in correct position: manicure
also: when Bruno comes to Metcalf to murder Miriam: he looks up her address in same phone booth where Guy said this
maybe only Guy's cowardice keeps him from killing Miriam himself: rather than any innate morality he has
Hitchcock to Bogdanovich: "he felt like killing her himself"
Hitchcock to Truffaut: "for Guy, it's just as if he had committed the murder himself"
opening sequence: technique similar to that used in SHADOW: camera in separate shots tracks along with 2 pair of feet going to board train:
Bruno: ostentatious shoes, trousers: walks left; Gut: conservative (dull) shoes, trousers: walks right: crosscutting between them:
crosscutting: cutting back & forth between 2 or more different locations where action happening simultaneously:
lets us compare & contrast what's going on in each location: example: cutting back & forth between:
heroine tied to railroad tracks / hero riding to her rescue: cutting: gets faster at end
Bruno's feet walk left, Guy's feet walk right: crosscutting between them:
feet going in opposite directions: moving thru space diagonally: diagonal important to visual dynamics:
diagonal movement: not literal crisscrossing seen of 2 men: but pattern of movement of feet:
displaced pattern: 2 arms of cross
shot of turnstile: when men pass thru same space in train station: camera waits until both have crossed space
pattern of cross confirmed when we see crisscrossing of railroad tracks: 2 intersections: double cross
same crisscrossing pattern of feet continued on train & when characters' feet collide:
Guy crosses his legs & knocks Bruno's crossed legs: a double crossing
this crosscutting pattern repeated at end of film: most of last 20 minutes of film: virtually silent movie without dialog:
cutting back & forth between Guy at tennis match & Bruno on way to amusement park:
Guy: playing tennis: bright sunlight / reaching up // Bruno: retrieving lighter: below street grate: darkness: reaching down
visual identification between Guy & Bruno: consistent thruout film:
1. Hitchcock consistently crosscuts between them: Bruno checks his watch / cut to Guy looking at his watch
2. Guy's lighter: Bruno has it: simultaneously represents Guy's relationship to 2 women:
to Ann: gave it to Guy with their initials on it
to Miriam: Bruno uses it to get her attention (so he can murder her; later he tries to plant it as evidence
3. when Bruno comes to tell Guy of murder: they face each other thru barred gate: until:
Bruno says: "you're just as much in it as I am" / they hear police car coming / Guy steps behind bars with Bruno
2 pairs of doubles: a double double: 2nd pair: Miriam & Barbara: Barbara: not coincidentally played by Pat Hitchcock:
Barbara: looks like Miriam: & the glasses: called "doubles by multiplication": both represent same person to Bruno:
evident in 2 scenes: 1. meeting at tennis club / party scene: Bruno "murders" Mrs. Cunningham
Barbara: terrified of what happens to Bruno: being identified with Bruno's victim:
but she's 1st to pas judgment on Miriam: calls her tramp: like Uncle Charlie
another link between Miriam & Barbara: their reactions to Bruno the same: explicit equation of sex & violence:
each is attracted to him: Bruno's response seen by each as sign of sexual interest:
but he's really interested in excitement of murdering Miriam: & reliving it thru Barbara
Miriam's murder: on island of tunnel of love at amusement park: begins like seduction: ends with her being strangled:
this process: reenacted metaphorically when Bruno sees Barbara while he's strangling Mrs. Cunningham
doubling elements: do more than establish identities:
relate to world order: Washington DC, business, sports / relate to world of corruption, sin, death:
worlds: not hermetically sealed from each other
scenes of Washington DC: Guy's apartment in shadow of US Capitol building:
building's illuminated dome ironically "oversees" Guy's meeting with Bruno
Bruno: hiding behind ironwork fence: his face crisscrossed with shadows: Guy joins him in shadows
Bruno: on steps of Jefferson Memorial: dressed in dark clothes: clothes stark vs. white steps, building, sunlight:
subjective moving camera shot: 2 times: dizzying effect
proximity of great national edifices: symbols of law & order powerless: no protection:
cannot impose order on irrational universe: like Hitchcock's use of other national monuments:
British Museum, Mt. Rushmore, UN building, Statue of Liberty
other pairs of characters: 2 little boys / 2 pairs of strolling guardians / 2 old men / 2 old ladies: especially interesting:
parallel between Bruno's mother & Mrs. Cunningham: links Bruno even more strongly with Uncle Charlie:
who murdered to revenge himself on predatory women
also: doubling reinforced structurally: 1 example: 2 scenes in amusement park
close ups of pairs of feet hurrying from opposite directions
2 sets of diverging rails
lighter: crossed tennis racquets
2 carousel episodes
2 women with eyeglasses
2 young men who accompany Miriam: 1 on each side of her
strangling of Miriam: reflected in her eyeglass lens
twin lenses in her eyeglasses: 1 good / 1 broken
Miriam's glasses & blind man's glasses: neither can be seen thru
2 songs played at amusement park: "Oh, You Beautiful Doll" / "Ain't We Got Fun"
carousel song: repeated twice: "Strawberry Blonde"
2 fathers: representing politics (Senator Morton) & big business (Mr. Anthony)
Hitchcock's cameo: carrying double bass: double of his own form
also: numerous matched shots: showing Bruno & Guy sequentially:
as they perform analogous actions, take same position, stand in complementary light & shadow
final doubling of film: minister: "aren't you Guy Haines?": scene: matched double of earlier scene:
Guy on train to Metcalf to intercept Bruno: he sees 2 men start conversation when their crossed feet accidentally bump:
final irony of film: stranger a minister this time: omen beneath humor:
Guy & Ann: should be moving toward minister, not away from 1: outcome of marriage: problematic?
3 years later: DIAL M FOR MURDER: may be seen as sequel to STRANGERS:
Ray Milland: ex-tennis player who tries to murder his wife
if we see film as courtship of latent homosexual by psychopathic killer: drawing back from marriage makes perfect sense
Barbara:"I think it's wonderful to have a man love you so much he'd kill for you:
words: true of Bruno's attraction to Guy
importance of Barbara: Pat Hitchcock: 2 important scenes with her:
1. Barbara calls Miriam tramp: says what other think: refuses Miriam her common humanity:
is chastised by her father for her insensitivity
2. Barbara's horrified recognition of Bruno: like she's been violated / raped
in both scenes: daughter speaks or sees what mustn't be spoken of or seen: what others fear to speak or see
father-daughter interplay in film: wholly absent from novel: Spoto: "malevolent humor":
scenes between Barbara & father: "oh, come on, Daddy"
but scenes of malevolent humor: connected to scenes of malevolent violence:
1. between Bruno & Miriam / 2. between Bruno & Barbara
scene between Bruno & Barbara: metaphor for Hitchcock & Pat's mutual recognition on set:
suggests that daughter's gaze might be intimidating to father
Corber: "Hitchcock's Washington":
STRANGERS: images of federal government: Capitol Building / Jefferson Memorial
Hitchcock's use of national monuments in his films: usually obvious connection to plot:
NORTH BY NORTHWEST: Mt. Rushmore: cold war conflict translated into visual terms
not case with STRANGERS: no communist spies plotting to overthrow government: just psychopathic killer:
so: why images / icons of government in film?
STRANGERS: linked to anti-communist hysteria: result of McCarthy hearings:
cold war: construction of "the homosexual" as security risk: Senate Appropriations Comm.: used Kinsey report to rid State Dept. of "perverts":
Kinsey Reports: 1948 / 1953: forced Americans to reexamine established norms of male / female behavior:
Kinsey: stressed instability of sexual identities: unexpected result of survey: high incidence of same-sex behavior:
in every age group, every social level, every occupation:
conclusion: homosexual behavior was "an inherent physiological capacity & should be tolerated
Kinsey Reports: eventually undermined restrictive norms of male-female behavior:
but most immediately: fanned flames of emerging homosexual panic
Senate Appropriations Comm.: Republican leaders: wanted to discredit Truman administration:
accused President of tolerating homosexual employees in federal government
homosexuals said to be as big a threat to government as communists: full investigation followed: investigation into same-sex behavior:
redefinition of homosexual / lesbian identities:
report disputed popular stereotypes: effeminate homosexual / masculine lesbian:
stated no outward characteristics or physical traits to identify gay men & women
committee: sought confirmation from medical community sowing gays as mentally unstable;
should be treated medically or psychiatrically
this meant: even gay men & women who seemed "normal" should be expelled from government:
their emotional instability made them vulnerable to espionage agents
committee: used Kinsey Reports, medical testimony, legal arguments, etc. to encourage homosexual panic: why would they do this?
to help contain certain dramatic shifts & upheavals: both social & sexual:
men: had difficult readjustments returning from WWII
women: resented pressure for them to return to domestic sphere
construction of gays as security risks helped to contain these dramatic shifts in attitudes & behavior:
politicizing of sexual practices: linked gays to crisis over national security:
& coerced straights to police their own behavior
suddenly: connection established between individual's politics & sexual identity: membership in communist part, e.g.:
indication that individual was unpatriotic: also potentially perverted
individual's sexual orientation: no longer determined by conformity to norms of behavior:
now: could be determined b politics of individual
STRANGERS: participated in attempts to contain political-sexual upheaval thru deployment of homophobia:
setting film in nation's capitol sheds new light on homosexual subplot: from Highsmith's book:
legal crisis: precipitated by fact that gays could look "normal": translated into visual terms:
Guy does not look homosexual: almost too clean-cut to threaten security: but he initiates meeting with Bruno:
accidentally kicking him under table on train
on train: circumstances show Guy to be security risk: Bruno knows all about him:
meeting with Bruno: exposes Guy to threat of blackmail
if gays can appear / behave "normally": how can they be represented cinematically?
Hitchcock: uses stereotype of effeminate homosexual:
Bruno: 1st shots of his feet identify him as outside mainstream: striped trousers, saddle shoes
his dependence on his mother: he seems to suffer from unresolved Oedipal complex:
fantasies of replacing his father
mother: constantly mediates between father & son: encourages Bruno's dependence on her:
she manicures his fingernails
STRANGERS: invokes homophobic categories of cold war discourse: represents Bruno as emotionally unstable gay:
who threatens national security: Bruno: 1st tries to pervert Guy: then tries to implicate him in Miriam's murder
Hitchcock: condenses scenario of homosexual menace: 1 of film's most powerful images:
Guy's point of view (POV): Bruno on steps of Jefferson Memorial: camera follows Guy's gaze: pans Jefferson Memorial:
composition of shot: focuses on Bruno: stands near center frame:
motionless & looking straight into camera: unlike other figures in shot
although Bruno dwarfed by memorial: stark contrast between his dark silhouette & white marble:
makes government appear vulnerable & unprotected
threat to Guy's future too: as senator: cannot expose Bruno without exposing himself too
scene is powerful because it's shot from Guy's POV:
spectator: positioned as "heterosexual" of legal discourse threatened by homosexual menace