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The Spectator (1999) - Starring Hitchcock




Steyn reviews the motion picture "Strangers on a Train"


Strangers on a Train (PG, selected cinemas)

In her first novel, Strangers on a Train, Patricia Highsmith wrote:

But love and hate, he thought now, good and evil, lived side by side in the human heart, and not merely in differing proportions in one man and the next, but all good and all evil. One had merely to look for a little of either to find it all, and one had merely to scratch the surface. All things had opposites close by, every decision a reason against it, every animal an animal that destroys it ... Nothing could be without its opposite that was bound up with it... There was that duality permeating nature . . . Two people in each person. There's also a person exactly the opposite of you, like the unseen part of you, somewhere in the world, and he waits in ambush.

At the time, Miss Highsmith had never met Alfred Hitchcock. Even when she sold the film rights, she had no idea until afterwards that it was Hitch who'd bought them ‑ for a paltry $7,500. But she managed nonetheless to articulate the abiding theme of his oeuvre. In Strangers on a Train, reissued next week to mark this month's Hitchcock centenary, opposites attract to fatal effect, when an accomplished young tennis player and an alcoholic psychotic playboy meet in the club car and wind up jokingly discussing committing murder for each other. In this film, opposites are always close by: on the one hand, the broad daylight and open spaces of the tennis court; on the other, the dark shadows and s...

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