A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
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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?
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: July 3, 1951
- On DVD or streaming: 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
- Last updated: September 23, 2020
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