"Strangers on a Train" comes out on a single-disc Blu-ray package featuring two cuts of this 1951 film noir by Alfred Hitchcock. The alternative version delivers a running time that is about two minutes longer than the original cut. Based on the 1950 novel of the same title by Patricia Highsmith, this expertly made psychological thriller subtly explores the twisted mind of a psychopath and how a flippant idea can spiral out of control and quickly become a reality. It stars Farley Granger, Ruth Roman, Robert Walker, Leo G. Carroll, Patricia Hitchcock, and Marion Lorne.
This renowned adaptation revolves around the encounter between two strangers while riding a train. Their chance meeting leads to a casual talk that further develops into a serious discussion about the theory on how someone can possibly commit the perfect crime. One of them thinks it's a joke, but the other thinks otherwise.
Showcasing the expansive feel of a highly effective and involving thriller, this classic piece renders an elegantly bold look that is full of potent moments. Its Oscar-nominated black-and-white cinematography is very sharp and moody in its Blu-ray glory. The deliciously crisp transfer also retains a very filmic texture through its natural-looking grain structure.
Fluid camerawork, dark humor, and cliff-hanging build-up make this superbly executed piece of cinema fascinating. Its wickedly delicious noir flavor offers such a tense-filled ride into the dark side of the human psyche. This particular Blu-ray version may have a couple of very minor issues including some hairline scratches and miniscule marks, but these are not detrimental to the picture's overall quality. There are also no digital anomalies seen anywhere in the presentation.
This Blu-ray edition hosts a lossless mono track, as well as dubbed mono options in Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, and Italian. For an antiquated track, the front-based mix remains a solid effort with only some occasional flaws that are quite forgivable in the larger scheme of things. There is a noticeable thinness, boxiness, and hollowness to the sound quality, but the dated mix still exhibits decent depth and dynamic range.
Interestingly, although lacking a designated LFE track, the lows possess appreciable weight and power. The mix complements the action without calling attention to itself. The melodramatic score and easy to comprehend speaking lines also work for the film's advantage.
The package supplies an impressive audio commentary track that features a long list of names including Hitchcock, the main and supporting actors, and other people behind the production, as well as a collection of behind-the-story featurettes and the film's theatrical trailer. Subtitle options are available in English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, and Italian.
Enduring as a great bit of murderous fun, "Strangers on a Train" is a solid piece of cinema that contributes much to the legacy of Hitchcock as a master filmmaker. This ingenious adaptation combines creepy suspense with cerebral drama that is populated by quirky and disturbing characters. It promotes varying layers and shades in its storytelling, which further lends the right sense of unease needed by the narrative. Worth noting is its meticulously crafted merry-go-round climax, which truly shines as a quintessential Hitchcock offering.
The story exquisitely works on the surface. At the same time, it also succeeds as a near-perfect study about sociopathy. A rising degree of tension often permeates the film that it functions as a rare thriller that almost never loses its visceral intensity even after many viewings.