When: Dec. 31-Jan. 3 2013
After making a couple of flops — 1949’s Under Capricorn and the following year’s Stage Fright are considered minor works — Alfred Hitchcock revived his career with Strangers on a Train, the 1951 film whose immense success paved the way for such great movies as Vertigo, Rear Window and Psycho. Hitchcock’s crisscrossing structure is marvelous, as is Robert Walker’s nuanced, chilling portrayal of villainous Bruno Anthony. Strangers is famous for its set pieces, which include a carousel gone gloriously out of control. Still, it’s Walker’s performance that carries the film, though Farley Granger — as Bruno’s tennis-playing double, Guy Haines — convincingly portrays an anxious social climber. Strangers is one of Hitchcock’s most accomplished works, if shallower than Vertigo or Shadow of a Doubt. Its themes of fatal coincidence and paths not taken make for a perfect New Year’s Eve movie — just don’t let it give you any bright ideas.