Strangers on a Train

The narrative that Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train tells indicates that Bruno Antony and Guy Haines, the main characters, are the antithesis of each other. A closer look at the film and what it attempts to portray shows that this reading of the film is not entirely accurate. As viewers, Hitchcock leads us to believe that Bruno and Guy are different from the second the movie begins. Hitchcock intentionally contrasts both of their shoes, luggage, and general entrance into Union Station. The stark differences in the two’s overall presence translate to the viewer having more sympathy for Guy than Bruno throughout the film. It doesn’t help that Guy also paints himself as morally superior to Bruno—to Anne, her father, the police, and anyone who questions him about Miriam’s murder.

However, upon closer look, there is a level of irony in Guy’s actions that are similar to Rupert’s in Hitchcock’s Rope. At dinner, Rupert is adamant in his discussion with Mr. Kentley that murder is an art for those who are superior individuals. When Mr. Kentley pushes back on this “morbid humor,” Rupert contends that he is serious. However, when Brandon and Philip look to Rupert’s praise for their murderous actions, Rupert is shocked they took his advice seriously. He tries to take back his words, disavowing and distancing himself from his previous advice. It is ironic that he, at one point, says, “you’ve given my words a meaning I never dreamt of,” an action almost laughable considering how adamant he was in making Mr. Kentley take him seriously.

Similarly, after a disagreement with Miriam, Guy calls Anne, saying he wants to strangle Miriam. When Bruno eventually strangles Miriam, Anne questions Guy, remembering the comment he made. Guy acts surprised that Anne would believe he had anything to do with Miriam’s murder, an action almost ironic considering he had previously verbally indicated his desire to strangle Miriam himself. For him to then act like Bruno’s action was criminal and inhumane is frighteningly ironic. Furthermore, Guy never explicitly tells Bruno off in the train when he is discussing their murderous exchange. He goes along with it, laughing. For Bruno, this acts as an “OK” for him to proceed with the murder. When Bruno goes through on this promise, once again, Guy seems surprised even though he contributed to Bruno’s actions. Guy’s moral superiority, paired with his contradictory actions, contributes to the idea that Bruno and Guy are more similar than we may think.