Strangers on a Train under the stars

Favorite part of the movie

In the past year I’ve read several posts about other bloggers going to screenings of classic films.

Angela at ‘Hollywood Revue” went to see “White Christmas” during the holidays and I thought it sounded so nice when everyone sang along at the end of the movie. Let me tell you, if I had been there I would have cried.  Marsha at ‘A Person in the Dark’ recently saw a screening of “Daisy Kenyon” featuring a speaker who was a personal friend of Joan Crawford’s.

Unfortunately, local movie theaters where I live don’t show classic films. The only classic films I know of shown in the Greenville, S.C. area are Moonlight Movies at the Peace Center.  At the end of May and the beginning of September, the Peace Center shows films every Wednesday for four weeks.  I have never been able to go until now, because I was away at school.

This week they showed “Strangers on a Train” (1951) starring Robert Walker, Farley Granger and Ruth Roman. I didn’t want to miss it  one of my favorite Alfred Hitchcock movies.

The film is about two strangers who meet on a train. Walker tries to convince Granger to swap murders of people they they don’t care for. Granger doesn’t take Walker serious until his wife, Miriam, ends up dead.

Moonlight Movies is kind of a “cool rich person in Greenville” thing to do, rather than a gathering of a lot of classic film lovers like some movie screenings.  There were several talking  (including the ones who came 30 minutes late and sat right in front of us) and some old drunk people behind us.

Regardless of the distractions, seeing the “Strangers on a Train” again confirmed a few things:

Glasses shot

-Robert Walker is really a wonderful actor. I think of him as the shy, sweet and awkward boy in “Since You Went Away.”  Seeing him in “Strangers on a Train” where he is insane is such a juxtaposition.  Walker does SUCH a good job in this movie. I hate that his life ended shortly after.

-Miriam’s murder, which we only witness through the reflection of her glasses, is one of my all time favorite film scenes and demonstrates Hitchcock’s mastery of camera.

-At one point Ruth Roman and Farely Granger are walking through a museum and then stop and turn around. In one shot they are walking through a real museum and the next standing in front of a screen that is showing a film of a museum, making it look like they are there.

At the end of the film everyone clapped and I asked my sister and her boyfriend what their reactions to the film were (they aren’t avid classic film watchers). Here were their responses:

Sister: “There shouldn’t be drinking at the films and there should be an age limit for who attends.” -not really what I was looking for

Sister’s boyfriend: “I wanted them to use the sister with glasses as a decoy to catch the bad guy.”

Overall, it was a relatively nice experience. I would like to go to a screening in a movie house one day, but this is a good start.

Here are a few photos from the evening:

Before the movie started before it got dark. It was pretty crowded. (Downtown Greenville at the Peace Center Amphitheater)

Sitting in my little chair, excited for the movie to start.

My sister and her boyfriend that I dragged along.

The movie is starting!

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Attractive Stranger: RIP Farley Granger

Farley Granger in 1953

In the shadows of Elizabeth Taylor’s death, Farley Granger died on March 27, at age 85.

Sometimes I think that Farley Granger was forgotten. He wasn’t as dynamic as other 1950s actors like Marlon Brando, and he was pretty awkward compared to suave Cary Grant, but Mr. Granger was one of my passing crushes when I first dove into classic film at the age of 14.

I’m not sure what attracted me to the tall, lanky and usually angry Farley Granger, but he was one of the many random actors (along with John Kerr, Peter McEnery and James Darren) that I had fleeting crushes on.

My favorite scene in “Strangers in a Train.” Farely is in the background holding on for dear life.

Granger was also in two of Hitchcock’s most well known films: the odd film adpatation of the play “Rope” and the thrilling “Strangers On A Train.”

I think the first film I ever saw Granger in was “Strangers On A Train” (1951). It’s funny that Granger has been so overlooked when he starred in one of Hitchcock’s most important and best films. “Strangers On A Train” is one of my all time favorite. I was intrigued by several of Hitchcock’s camera angles, particularly the shot through Miriam’s glasses at the fair.  It’s hard to find a flaw in “Strangers On A Train” because it is perfect-though I would have preferred another love interest over Ruth Roman.

I next saw Granger in “Hans Christian Andersen” (1952) with Danny Kaye. It’s such a quirky, silly movie but I love it. The etherial song “Wonderful Copenhagen” and the adorable “No Two People” had me enchanted.  Granger plays an angry fellow who is mean to Danny Kaye and locks him in a closet!  Granger then goes on to play an equally hot tempered man in “Small Town Girl” with Jane Powell.  I’m not sure why Granger was always cast as a hot head, but he could play a grouch very well.

Farley Granger and Ann Blyth in “Our Very Own”

A few of my other favorite films of his are “Our Very Own” where Ann Blyth finds out she was adopted, and, one of his first films, the war film “Purple Heart.”

Granger’s film career petered off in the mid-1950s and he acted mainly on television and then made a few films in the 1970s.  It’s sad that he entered and exited the film scene so quickly.  He only had substantial roles in half of them, while several of his others were small supporting characters.

Regardless of his screen time, I am sad that yet another star has risen. Farewell Farley Granger, you will be missed.

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