Strangers on a Train

 
(i)

 

Classic nail-biter is a must for thriller fans.
  • Review Date: March 8, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 1951
  • Running Time: 103 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Pemeditated murder, stalking.

Violence

Graphic murder, and a slug-fest on a high-speed carousel. Stalking.

Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is solid nail-biting entertainment for those who enjoy stylish, well-crafted suspense. Don't expect a moral here, but do expect a lot of suspense and some dark subject matter that makes it inappropriate for young viewers who should probably stick to Scooby-Doo. The British version devotes slightly more screen time to Bruno's Liberace-like flamboyance, giving that fateful meeting with Guy on the train a vague air of flirtation. Parents concerned about homoerotic content need not be; it's presented discreetly, merely as a character trait.

What's the story?

From the novel by Patricia Highsmith, Alfred Hitchcock's STRANGERS ON A TRAIN takes a seemingly innocent conversation between tennis player Guy (Farley Granger) and well-heeled Bruno (Robert Walker) and turns it, by degrees, into a grueling worst-case scenario. A chance meeting on a train embroils the two men in a shrewd murder scheme that quickly goes awry. Co-scripted by Raymond Chandler, this stylish, suspenseful 1951 Hitchcock classic will have the whole family squirming and second-guessing each other about the outcome as an innocent man is drawn into a lunatic's murder scheme. The master of suspense gives us a dead body, but doesn't leave us asking who, where, when or why. We witnessed the crime. We understand the murderer's motive. If this were a straightforward murder mystery, the end credits would be rolling, but because it's an Alfred Hitchcock picture it's just beginning. So buckle up, because the tension builds relentlessly all the way to the climax.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

In the hands of a less-competent director, the story might not have amounted to much, but Hitchcock builds the suspense relentlessly, almost sickeningly. That's why they call him the master.

This adaptation devotes slightly more screen time to Bruno's Liberace-like flamboyance, giving that fateful meeting with Guy on the train a vague air of flirtation. Parents concerned about homoerotic content need not be; it's presented discreetly, merely as a character trait. There's no great moral to be found here ("Crime doesn't pay" is stretching it a little). This is just solid nail-nibbling entertainment for those who enjoy stylish, well-crafted suspense.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the hallmarks of a suspense film, and how continued suspense, especially when the tension and danger continues to increase, is often more thrilling, entertaining, and downright scary than films filled with constant, gratuitous violence.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 3, 1951
DVD release date:March 27, 1991
Cast:Farley Granger, Robert Walker, Ruth Roman
Director:Alfred Hitchcock
Studio:Warner Bros.
Genre:Thriller
Topics:Book characters
Run time:103 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:some violence and tension

This review of Strangers on a Train was written by

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Quality

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  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 13 year old Written byTsion April 11, 2009
 

Thrilling and Frightening Suspense...

STRANGERS ON A TRAIN is a great movie. It isn't quite 5-stars, but it is a wonderfully tense and engaging thriller. There is no language or sex, though it is stated that Guy's wife is pregnant by another man. There is an onscreen murder (strangling) but it isn't graphic. Several scenes are tense, but not too tense for family movie night.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent Written byPlague June 9, 2010
 

Strangers on a Train

A fantastic thriller, and a Hitchcock classic.
Teen, 15 years old Written bybubbo April 9, 2008
 
A great suspense movie for families! It's definitely suspenseful enough for parents and not too scary for older kids (a mature 9+). One of Alfred Hitchcock's best movies I have seen.

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