Showing posts with label 1951. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1951. Show all posts

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Strangers on a Train

Alfred Hitchcock’s tale of doubles, murder, light and dark, Strangers on a Train is a film with a lot of deep and hidden subtext which sits underneath a nicely woven story. Amateur tennis player and wannabe Politician Guy Haines (Farley Granger) is on a train when he meets a chatty and confident man named Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker). Bruno recognises the tennis ace and begins talking about stories of Guy’s private life that he has read about in the newspapers. Guy is uncomfortable but humours the strange man who soon begins to talk of murder and how they could pull off the perfect murder by each murdering the other’s problem person. Guy is on the way to speak with his wife about a divorce and Bruno suggests murder. A few days later Guy’s wife is found murdered and Guy is stalked by the shady Bruno who says that it is Guy’s turn to commit the crime.

Strangers on a Train is far from my favourite Hitchcock film but it features some stunning cinematography and a vast array of visual motifs which help to spell out the plot and themes. The performance of Robert Walker is also noteworthy but I rarely felt fully engaged with the story. It is perhaps a movie that would benefit from a second viewing but like pretty much all of Hitchcock’s movies is still worth watching.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

The Day the Earth Stood Still

"They're here! They're here! They've landed!"

It’s 1951 and an extraterrestrial flying saucer is tracked around the Earth before it lands in Washington. A spaceman, Klaatu (Michael Rennie) and a robot step out and are immediately shot by the US Army. After recovering very quickly, the spaceman asks a Presidential aid for permission to speak to all world leaders as he brings a vitally important message. His request is denied due to the political climate and he escapes and tries to study Earth’s inhabitants while staying at a Washington Guest House, becoming friendly with residents Helen (Patricia Neal) and her son Bobby (Billy Gray). The spaceman contacts a scientist (Sam Jaffe) and persuades him to gather the scientific community to listen to his warning. In order to get the attention of the world’s population, the Spaceman turns off all of the world’s electricity for thirty minutes.

This is very much a film of its time. Its overriding theme of Cold War tensions is now part of history and its religious themes have much less importance today. The fact that an alien has travelled millions of miles to warn humanity about its own as well as the Universe’s destruction must have been a major talking point back in 1951. The idea that the alien could also be viewed as Jesus takes the warning even further. The film delivers a stern but important message about what a threat we can be to ourselves. The fact that the film came just six years after the world’s most bloody war is no coincidence either.