20 June 2010

Strangers on a Train

Strangers on a Train was Patricia Highsmith's first novel. Published in 1950, it was quickly made into a film the following year by Alfred Hitchcock. The film become a classic, and it is this version which has become better known. Unless you are only twelve years old or have been living on Mars for the last few decades, you'll already know the basic plot outline. Two men meet on a train. Guy has an estranged wife standing in the way of his romance with a wealthy socialite, whilst Bruno has a rich father whom he hates because he refuses to give him an allowance. Bruno suggests to Guy that they 'exchange murders' - removing their respective obstacles to happiness. He argues that nobody will be able to assign motive, because the assailants are unknown to the victims, and nobody will have any reason to think that the two plotters knew each other, because they have never met before.

At first the two men appear to be polar opposites. Bruno is a spoiled emotional child, a psychopath, a drunk, and a failure. Guy on the other hand is a cultivated professional, a successful architect with a promising future. But as the novel progresses they slowly become more like each other ...

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