Picking Alfred Hitchcock's best movie is a sucker's game. His talents stretched across so many eras and worked in too many styles to reduce matters to one choice. But it's hard to resist thinking of Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker) as one of the director's greatest creations; nobody was better at illuminating the charismatic sort of evil that Hitchcock was obsessed with. Rear Window and North by Northwest have better scripts, The Lady Vanishes has more suspense, and Psycho is creepier, but 1951's Strangers on a Train is A-list Hitch in part because it reduces his plotting to something simple and razor-sharp: Two men, two problems, and a crime that can, in theory, solve them both.

Bruno seems innocent enough on the train when we first meet him, wearing a gaudy tie-pin with his name on it and shooting homoerotic glances at Guy Haines (Farley Granger), a world-class tennis player returning home from a match. After buttonholing and flattering Guy, Bruno angles into a remarkable proposition. If Guy is willing to murder Bruno's father, he says, then Bruno will kill off Guy's cheating wife Miriam (Kasey Rogers), freeing Guy to marry Anne (Ruth Roman), a senator's daughter. Bruno's certifiable, but he reads the papers, and the look on Guy's boyish face in response to the proposal is priceless - the look of a man boxed in by his own celebrity.

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