Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose #13: Criss Cross (Opening Scene of Strangers on a Train)

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  1. In how many ways does Hitchcock play with or visually manifest the metaphor of "criss-cross" or "criss-crossing" in this introductory sequence. (For those who haven't seen the film yet, the idea of "criss-cross"is a central idea in this film, a theme Hitch sets up from the opening frame of this film) Be specific. Hitchcock plays with this metaphor for the rest of the film. Not just the opening sequence, but also in the conversation between Guy and Bruno, using shapes like diamonds that have an X marking inside the shape, Bruno's crossing of his fingers to make the letter X, and the criss-crossing of the colors: black-and-white for example.

 

Even in this brief scene, how does Hitchcock create a sense of contrast between Guy (Farley Granger) and Bruno (Robert Walker)? Consider everything from camera work, to clothing and shoes, to dialogue and speech, for example. Bruno's exit from the taxicab to the train station is inside a dark tunnel whereas his shoes are black and white to show a sore of duality, Guy's exit from the taxicab is in broad daylight and he wears brown shoes to symbolize his sullenness and plain attitude. Guy's camera work is coming from the left side of the screen as he is walking towards the train station and his train, while Bruno walks to the right side. Bruno is more talkative and is very conversational in his speeches, Guy is more shy and much of a bookworm, he keeps his conversations to himself. Bruno wears a striped coat with a lobster tie that shows his vivacity, Guy wears a black coat that symbolizes his mature sensibility with a checkered tie.

 

While the visual design gets the most attention typically, how does the Dimitri Tiomkin score function as part of the mood and atmosphere of this opening sequence? It suggests that the score is playful and represents the pace and environment of the New York City lifestyle going from location to location on a train. And it also sets up a playful innocent tone between our two characters that look harmful in their simple introduction.   

 

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Hitchcock shows almost an infinite amount of ways the 'double cross' can go:

-Open Tunnel at the intro (open ends)

-2 Cars enter carrying two different travellers

-They are dressed differently (fancy/plain) but their music plays equally as upbeat.

-They both enter the gates (entrances/exits-like the tunnel)

-Criss-Crossing Railroad tracks

-The one character crosses his legs even and the story begins when the other character goes to cross his and is obstructed.

There is a great contrast in the characters, one is very 'loud' in a sense, the way he dresses and speaks to others fairly too familiarly.

-The other dresses very plain (as in to blend into the crowd-and failing).

In this scene the clothes do not make the man.

Though Bruno's attire is prominent, the 'star' is supposed to be the tennis player.

Traditional Hitchcock 'star turn'. Criss-Cross

Curious if this story would even occur if their feet hadn't touched?.

(Maybe Bruno is serious about his shiny shoes?)

Tiomkins music captures the dueling character's journey from their motions and actions to the speed of the momentum of the scene (trying to get to the train on time).

 

 

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In how many ways does Hitchcock play with or visually manifest the metaphor of “criss cross” or “criss-crossing” in this introductory sequence. [For those who haven’t seen the film yet, the idea of “criss cross” is central idea in this film, a theme Hitch sets up from the opening frames of this film] Be specific.

 

The train tracks, crossing over each other.  The criss-cross of both characters exiting their respective cabs.  Guys feet, Bruno's feet, Guy's luggage, Bruno's luggage.  Then Bruno takes his seat and crosses his legs.  Guy takes his seat and crosses his legs.

 

Even in this brief scene, how does Hitchcock create a sense of contrast between Guy (Farley Granger) and Bruno (Robert Walker)? Consider everything from camera work, to clothing and shoes, to dialogue and speech, for example.

 

Brunos' shoes are stand-out, dandy-ish.  Guys are plain, sensible. Everything is filmed from the back, or knees on down.  You don't see anyone's face until minute 2.3.  Bruno wears a personalized tie clip on a lobster tie (it's a bottom dweller). Bruno sits too close, almost up against Guy. 

 

I need to disagree with the notes that Robert Walker was on his way to stardom.  By the time of SOAT, he was a full-blown alcoholic.  His career had been ruined in part by Selznick who married Walkers ex-wife, Jennifer Jones.

 

 

While the visual design gets the most attention typically, how does the Dimitri Tiomkin score function as part of the mood and atmosphere of this opening sequence? 

 

The opening music is sort of romantic, with the view of the train station with the US Capital dome in  the background.  Then it moves to when they exit the cabs it is light & airy and keeps it up while they walk to and board the train. 

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In how many ways does Hitchcock play with or visually manifest the metaphor of “criss cross” or “criss-crossing” in this introductory sequence. [For those who haven’t seen the film yet, the idea of “criss cross” is central idea in this film, a theme Hitch sets up from the opening frames of this film] Be specific.

 

 

Ways in which Hitchcock suggests the theme of ‘Criss-cross’

  1. The title itself, ‘Strangers on a Train’, suggests two people apart who’s paths  cross on the train.
  2. The screen direction of the characters. Bruno’s enters from the right and heads left. Guy enters from the left and heads right. This suggests an eventual meeting in the middle.
  3. Then we see alternating shots of Bruno walking towards the left, and Guy walking towards the right. Again the suggestion is they will inevitably meet. Legs and feet are and walking are a visual metaphor for a path in life. So this will be a meeting of the two men’s destinies.
  4. We next see them in a single shot, though not together, as first Bruno enters the gate followed eventually (and inevitably?) by Guy. We are approaching the center or ‘meeting’ of the ‘X’ in a cross.
  5. We then see the train tracks. We see 5 crosses of rails in the shot, clearly suggesting the ‘X’ or cross in criss-cross: the meeting of two people. Train tracks suggest a couple things. First, they suggest fate, or destiny, as you HAVE to follow the rails. However, there are switches that offer limited control as to the destination. Therefor the inevitable fate (rails) will lead to a destiny only if the correct choices (switches) are made.
  6. We see a final two shots of Bruno walking toward the left and Guy walking towards the right. We know the axis of the cross is about to happen.
  7. They both cross their legs. It is in the crossing of Guy’s legs that the bump between  feet happen – the actual physical contact and juncture of the ‘X’ in the criss-cross of their lives. It is at this moment that we finally see the two people in the same frame together.
  8. After a temporary ‘separation’ – as we see a few reverse angle cuts as the dialogue begins, Bruno rises and moves over to Guy and we know there fate’s are together whether Guy wishes it or not.
  9. Guy’s tie is of course a checkered pattern, which is nothing but crosses.

 

Even in this brief scene, how does Hitchcock create a sense of contrast between Guy (Farley Granger) and Bruno (Robert Walker)? Consider everything from camera work, to clothing and shoes, to dialogue and speech, for example.

 

Contrasts;

  1. Screen direction is opposite, as mentioned above.
  2. Bruno has a tan case, and spectator shoes*(see below). Guy has a dark case, and brown shoes.
  3. Bruno has striped pants, while Guy has solid pants.
  4. Bruno's cab is #1020 which is even, while Guy's cab #1975 is odd.
  5. The music that introduces them in each case is similar, but guy’s is one full note lower. It is subtle, but you can tell it’s different somehow subconsciously.
  6. Bruno’s cab enters into a covered area, which is dark. Guy’s cab drops him off outside in the light. This suggest the contrast of Bruno’s darker nature vs. Guy’s innocent nature.
  7. Bruno enters the gate after his attendant. Guy enters in front of his attendant.
  8. Bruno has his right hand in his pocket, again suggesting something hidden. Guys hands are not in his pockets.
  9. Bruno sits in a chair. Guy sits on a bench behind a table. The chair suggests singularity - someone apart, while the bench suggests someone ordinary - belonging to the group.
  10. Guy is reading, Bruno is not. Guy has his own life. Bruno will make Guy part of his life.
  11. Bruno has lighter clothes. Guy has a dark suit.
  12. Bruno’s has a flamboyant lobster tie, while Guy’s is a simple checkered pattern.
  13. Bruno has handkerchief. Guy has not.

*The meaning of the ‘spectator’ shoes, like the shoes themselves, is multi-facited, and suggest a few things about Bruno:

  1. Bruno is flamboyant.
  2. The black and white represents the two sides of Bruno, who can be charming on the surface but deep down is a disturbed and dangerous person.
  3. Bruno is also a ‘spectator’, in that he is constantly watching Guy throughout the movie, to see if he will carry out ‘his half of the bargain’.
  4. Bruno is literally a spectator in the Tennis game.
  5. The shoes themselves have a definite connotation.

“In the 1920s and 1930s in England, this style was considered too flamboyant for a gentleman, and therefore was called a tasteless style. Because the style was popular among lounge lizards and cads, who were sometimes associated with divorce cases, a nickname for the style was co-respondent shoe, a pun on the color arrangement on the shoe, and the legal description of a third party caught in flagrante delicto with the guilty party in a case of adultery. Wallis Simpson was famed for wearing this style, although it was said that she was an adulteress and that it was Edward VIII who acted the part of co-respondent.”

Hitchcock would have been well aware of this growing up in England. Thus the idea of infidelity is also brought into the picture, through Bruno’s shoes, as well as the idea of crime and the legal process.

 

While the visual design gets the most attention typically, how does the Dimitri Tiomkin score function as part of the mood and atmosphere of this opening sequence?

 

The score

  1. Over titles: after a fanfare over the WB logo, we get a single violin theme, which suddenly grows bigger. (the build up of events?)  it is a dramatic theme, which is then repeated with a counter theme (two themes at the same time). This parallels the idea of two people crossing paths.
  2. There are contrasts between a dark theme (the rising, dotted-note music with a falling tail) and a playful, light version of the same music, as we see the two get out of their cabs.
  3. As the two walk towards each other there are rising scales, which themselves rise step by step increasing the suspense of their inevitable meeting. There is a shortening of  musical theme or motif, i.e. the scale is now only two notes in each iteration. This further increases tension.  Think of the first theme of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (after the famous two statements of the 4 note motif. The theme then proceeds:

♪♪♪♪  ♪♪♪♪  ♪♪♪♪ --

♪♪♪♪  ♪♪♪♪  ♪♪♪♪--

♪♪♪♪-

♪♪♪♪-

♪♪♪♪-  ♪-   ♪----

                        Even if you don't know how to read music you can see simply visually how this increases tension, because as it contracts it is focusing to a point. This is what builds the tension. Just as the same technique is used in the movie score here, just as the length of the shots themselves get shorter in tandem with the music.

  1. Over the crossing train tracks we again get the dotted-note theme with counter theme, two themes again now with a visual metaphor of the train tracks suggesting two destinies intertwining.
  2. It slowly winds down til a zing as their feet touch, and then is silent as the conversation starts.

Over all the dramatic nature of the music let's us know we are about to go on an exciting journey.

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1.       Under the opening credits the vehicular traffic crosses the space of the archway.

2.       Bruno exits a black and white Diamond cab wearing flashy black and white wing tips and pin-striped trousers; he crosses from screen right to left.

3.       Guy exits a black and white Diamond cab wearing sensible brown wing tips and wool slacks; he crosses from screen left to right.

4.       Bruno crosses the diamond-patterned station floor from right to down left, a hard down.

5.       Guy crosses the diamond-patterned station floor from left to down right, an easy down.

6.       Numerous travelers’ paths crisscross the parallel lines of the station floor.

7.       Bruno crosses hard up across the parallel lines of the station floor then through the barred entry to the trains

8.       Guy crosses easy up across the parallel lines of the station floor then through the barred entry to the trains

9.       The train crosses the parallel cross ties of the tracks; the tracks cross other tracks forming diamond images.

10.    Bruno crosses right to left on the train, passing travelers whose legs are crossed; he sits, crossing his right leg over his left

11.    Guy crosses left to right on train, passing travelers whose legs are crossed except for the last woman he passes; he sits to her screen right, crossing his left leg over his right.

12.    The lighting in the lounge car mirrors the parallel train tracks leading toward a vanishing point.

13.    The Venetian blinds further the parallel motif.

14.    Bruno crosses from right to left to capture Guy’s hand with both of his in greeting, then seats himself screen right, shoulder to shoulder on the banquette.

 

We are trained to read from left to right, an example of natural order.  Right to left movement is contrary; it feels wrong and makes us feel uncomfortable.  It is no accident that Hitchcock moves Bruno from screen right to sinister left.  Our good Guy moves from screen left to right.  Without a word spoken, we sense wrongness about Bruno.

 

Their movements are mirror images.  However, Bruno wears flashy black and white wing tips with a light-colored, pin-striped suit.  The fabric moves sensuously.  His shirt has a collar bar; he sports a flamboyant lobster tie with ominous claws.  His tie tack is a gift from Mother -- his name written in cursive.  He checked his case.  Guy, on the other hand, wears sensible brown wing tips, dark flannel trousers, a V-necked sweater or vest under a wool sports coat.  His clothes have substance.  He wears a white shirt with a diamond-patterned tie.  He carries his own case and tennis rackets.

 

Dimitri Tiomkin’s score repeats the parallel motif.  It is the same music for Bruno’s and Guy’s exits from the cabs.  The same theme is repeated again as the camera follows each of their crosses of the station floor.  Again, the same movement is heard during the shot of the railroad tracks.  There is also a hint of the sound of a moving train that doesn’t stop until their shoes bump.  Their paths have crossed.

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Hithcock uses the camera angle nearly touching the train tracks as they cross from one to another. Also from the camera angles used with the cabs. One is left to right while the other is right to left.

 

There is a contrast in the music between the two sets of shoes. The Black and White shoes have a loud section of music and a flamboyant fast walk to them while the set of black shoes is more reserved and at a much slower pace.

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Wow what the posters here have to say about Bruno and how he dresses in this first scene is impressive.  

 

Can't wait to see what is posted about his smoking jacket.    (the same one used years before in The Man Who Came to Dinner,  as worn by Monty Woolley). 

 

 

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Alfred Hitchcock is definitely a “special case” in film noir. Hitchcock is known for suspense, that is what you expect to see when you go to a Hitchcock movie, and to see if you can find him in his film. A director such as Anthony Mann is known well for many types of films: noir, westerns and even epics such as Fall of the Roman Empire. In Fall of the Roman Empire Mann is making a film that Hollywood would use to counter the problem of television on the “big screen”, 70mm in Technicolor, with big name stars from around the world.


 


Hitchcock would be more like Disney in using his suspense television series to bring people to see his theatrical releases on the big screen, not just the small screen. He would use the techniques of noir, the criss-cross of tracks leaving the train station, as we saw in our first week. We always expect and Hitchcock always gives us more.


 


The opening as in many movies we have seen with just feet and legs showing, yet here we have the flashy two-tone shoes of Bruno (Robert Walker) and the staid tied mono dress shoe of Guy (Farley Granger) walking into the station, then through the train, both sitting at the same table in the club car and guy hitting Bruno's foot, crossed over his leg, as he crosses his own legs. Hitchcock builds suspense and anticipation here that we will see fulfilled throughout the film.


 


We also have the Warner Brothers' style here, as well as Hitchcock's own style. He uses trains to great effect as the main mode of travel outside the city, as he does in North by Northwest at the end of the film as the train enters the tunnel: a substitute for sex, which he can not show on the screen. In the beginning he uses the taxis bringing the two men to the train station as the main mode of transportation in the city. Showing the mobile and existential ideas that will allow the agreement they will discuss one seriously the other jokingly.


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Bruno was definitely off. Whenever I watch this film and when I first watched it. I was like no don't talk to him. I was like Guys girlfriend's father when he said he was a bit eccentric. And didn't continue the conversation. That's what sucked me in, why does Guy keep talking to this nut!

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Wow -- some of the responses posted here are just great.  I may not have as many new things to add, but here I go:

 

1.  The most obvious image that manifests "criss cross" is the crossed rails.  But there are also crossed legs when they sit on the train, and the clear criss cross of them arriving and walking from screen left to right or screen right to left.  Everyone else has already mentioned a lot of other ways this theme is visually represented.

 

2.  Shoes are the most obvious difference.  Bruno's unusual choice in shoes hits a wrong note -- something is "off" -- these shoes don't go with the outfit.  Bruno also wears a hat; Guy does not.  Bruno's tie clip and lobster tie also throw his "look" off, in addition to the shoes.  It all clashes.  Also, when he introduces himself on the train, he immediately comes over to Guy and sits too closely to him, then says he's not much of a talker and that Guy should read.  But Bruno doesn't move.  He hovers over Guy, and despite his smile and friendly demeanor, you just know this guy is creepy from the start.  Guy, on the other hand, is more put together -- dark colored outfit, vest, nice tie -- he looks far more put together.  Also, he carries tennis rackets, so you know right from the start who he is.    Guy speaks more deliberately; Bruno speaks with a never ending patter and chatter, despite the fact that he says he's not much of a talker -- that's ALL he does!

 

3.  Under the credits, the music has an intensity to it -- a sense of urgency.  When the men arrive at the station in their respective cabs, the music is somewhat jaunty, and not terribly distinguishable (in terms of different themes for each man).  But then the jaunty music gets darker as the scene shifts to the rails.  And when they sit down, I believe the music just stops.

Yet, we know immediately that something is not right with this, and Dimitri Tiomkin's music supports that.

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In how many ways does Hitchcock play with or visually manifest the metaphor of “criss cross” or “criss-crossing” in this introductory sequence. [For those who haven’t seen the film yet, the idea of “criss cross” is central idea in this film, a theme Hitch sets up from the opening frames of this film] Be specific.

​       "Criss cross" (CC) ...We see of course the CC of the railroad switching tracks as we POV shot the arrival of the train into Union Station in Washington DC; We see the diamond emblem which is sort of a CC on the cabs that Bruno and Guy arrive in; we even see that the cab doors open differently CC at the curbside (Bruno's open to the left while Guy's opens to the right);  we see a CC in the direction that Guy and Bruno walk along inside the main concourse of the train station (one walks from viewers left to right, the other walks from the viewers right to left); each actor CC at the entrance gate to the track for boarding of their train; Bruno wears black and white wingtip shoes which is a CC of colors to me; when Bruno shakes hands with Guy he uses both hands that CC Guy's hand. Bruno has a tie that has come printed lobsters facing left and some facing right as a CC; they each cross their legs when they finally sit down --CC; and finally Guy is wearing a CC pattern crosshatch sort of necktie. Another Criss Cross is the casting that Hitchcock used. Farley Granger had played one of the Loeb-Leopold killers in Hitchcock's Rope​ whereas Robert Walker was the squeaky clean actor from such films as the "Private Hargrove" series and Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo . The audience discovered that Hitchcock criss crossed them on who was good and was evil In this film! 

 

Even in this brief scene, how does Hitchcock create a sense of contrast between Guy (Farley Granger) and Bruno (Robert Walker)? Consider everything from camera work, to clothing and shoes, to dialogue and speech, for example.

            Hitchcock uses several techniques to create the sense of contrast between Guy and Bruno: We see initially their shoes and of course Bruno wears the flashy two tone shoes whereas Guy wears just plain one color shoes; Bruno is super outgoing with flair whereas  Guy wears more conservative clothes; Bruno wears a "Lobster" printed design tie with a "Bruno" name tie clip; Guy wears a sweater vest and a ordinary tie just peeking out from his sweater vest; Bruno dominates from body language to posture to speech while Guy is more inward and quit. We see close-ups of Bruno like when he shows Guy his "Bruno" tie clip. Guy's dialogue so far is pretty near non-existent... he can't get a word in against Bruno's smooth talking. Even the characters names make a point "Guy" simply rolls off your lips without any great effort whereas "Bruno" is said with force and noise.

 

While the visual design gets the most attention typically, how does the Dimitri Tiomkin score function as part of the mood and atmosphere of this opening sequence?

​      The musical score from Dimitri Tiomkin utilizes a varied selection of instruments to open the picture. We hear violins, trumpets, trombones, and cymbals. Tiomkin uses heavy motifs, blaring fanfares and some music that is almost comical to help set the mood, there is the sense of motion, this sense of activity and this sense of hustle and bustle as these to men move to their accidental meeting.

 

Note to viewers: ​Watch for Hitchcock's cameo in this film...Hint:​ Think double bass fiddle and train station.

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Visually, Bruno and Guy are quite distinct. Bruno is as "colorful" as one can get in black and white: His shoes have sharply contrasting black and white, his suit has stripes, and his wildly patterned tie even manages to be loud. He also has the ostentatious "Bruno" tie clip and a mass of curly hair. Guy, meanwhie, has nondescript dark shoes and a nondescript dark suit (sans accessories) with nondescript dark hair and features.

 

Personality-wise, Bruno is outgoing, striking up a conversation with a total stranger, while Guy is reserved and clearly would have been just as happy not to speak to anyone, even an apparent fan. Guy uses as few words as he can to express a point, while Bruno uses the most he can.

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Hi All!

 

1. The back and forth/ left-right motion of the camera following the walking shoes-the train rails crisscrossing, the crossed legs crisscrossing as the shoes touch, the two men seated across from one another even the hand shake crisscrosses.

 

2. The camera follows them walking and even their legs seem to crisscross from the knees down as they walk. Bruno's shoes are flashing white/ black spectators against a pinstriped suit, rather ugly tie (to me) and the name tie clip and he is very talkative despite his protest that he "doesn't talk much." "I certainly admire people who do things" is a line worth remembering when it comes to Bruno- foreshadowing of things to come. Guy is dressed conservatively, shoes match the suit and he only says three lines in their initial meeting: " Excuse me.", "How do you do?" and "Thanks." He's reading a book whereas Bruno is there for a purpose- looking for someone to exchange with.

 

3. The score starts off almost with an eerie melodramatic tone and then sets a more lighthearted mood when Bruno's & Guy's shoes step out the taxi; melodramatic again when seeing the rails back to playful when the shoes are in the train.

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1.      In how many ways does Hitchcock play with or visually manifest the metaphor of “criss cross” or “criss-crossing” in this introductory sequence. [For those who haven’t seen the film yet, the idea of “criss cross” is central idea in this film, a theme Hitch sets up from the opening frames of this film] Be specific.

 

I noticed 6 criss-crossed incidents:  the criss-cross on the tennis racket cases; the criss-cross of the train tracks, the crossed legs on the train, the crossed wrists as Bruno grabs Guy’s hand, the crossed fingers on Bruno just as he finishes his introduction and the criss-crosses on Guy’s tie.

 

2.      Even in this brief scene, how does Hitchcock create a sense of contrast between Guy (Farley Granger) and Bruno (Robert Walker)? Consider everything from camera work, to clothing and shoes, to dialogue and speech, for example.

 

Guy appears distracted; distracted enough to not notice how close Bruno is sitting to him and hit Bruno’s foot while sitting down.  Guy seems to want to relax, hence the wanting to read his book and appears to not want to be disrupted so he just gives Bruno a smirk when Bruno notices him and Guy does not move over when Bruno shoves close to him indicating he does not want Bruno to feel comfortable and wanted.

 

Bruno seems relaxed and acting like he is just where he wants to be...sitting across from Guy. He’s like a little kid when he acts surprised to see Guy sitting there and seems to want Guy’s attention and wants to know Guy’s business when he practically sits on top of him and looks over his shoulder to see what he is reading.

 

3.      While the visual design gets the most attention typically, how does the Dimitri Tiomkin score function as part of the mood and atmosphere of this opening sequence?

 

The music goes perfect with the pace of the opening sequence because the strings present a soft sound in the beginning then builds up with the horns as the feet come into the picture; as the men start walking, the horns pick up speed as the pace of the feet increase.  Each piece of music on each pair of feet is slightly different which helps you feel the different reasons why each man is boarding the train.

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In how many ways does Hitchcock play with or visually manifest the metaphor of “criss cross” or “criss-crossing” in this introductory sequence. [For those who haven’t seen the film yet, the idea of “criss cross” is central idea in this film, a theme Hitch sets up from the opening frames of this film] Be specific.

 

At the very beginning before the credits cover up the background, there are two people who criss cross, each heading in different directions.

 

Then, of course, there are the criss crossing tracks, Bruno entering the frame from one direction, while Guy enters from the other. Each shot alternates with one man walking from right to left, the other from left to right. They merge at the entrance to the train platform. Then on the train, we have the same criss cross. Bruno enters the frame from the right headed left, while Guy enters left headed right until they sit and Guy brushes Bruno with his foot.

 

Even in this brief scene, how does Hitchcock create a sense of contrast between Guy (Farley Granger) and Bruno (Robert Walker)? Consider everything from camera work, to clothing and shoes, to dialogue and speech, for example.

 

As to the camera work, the two men enter the frame from opposite directions. Their clothing is very different. Bruno is wearing flashy dark and white shoes, his suit is pin striped, and his tie is rather wild. On the other hand Guy's shoes are solid color, his pants are lighter than his black jacket, but both are rather conservative looking as is his tie with, a criss cross pattern. Bruno is talkative, even though he says he's not. And Guy's dialogue is monosyllabic. He has brought a book to read, which Bruno does not allow him to read, even though he tells him to go ahead and read. Oh, and then there is the hand shake. Bruno takes Guy's hand to shake it. He doesn't wait for Guy to extend it toward him. When he sits down next to Guy, he sits rather close which is odd since he and Guy are strangers.

 

While the visual design gets the most attention typically, how does the Dimitri Tiomkin score function as part of the mood and atmosphere of this opening sequence?

 

The opening music during the credits is rather dramatic and a little bit dark. That changes when the taxis arrive with the two main characters. It's lighter and even a little playful. It's in contrast to the evolution of the relationship between these two men. When they meet it's a light breezy kind of meeting, Bruno talking to Guy about his tennis exploits. But later as anyone who has seen the movie knows, their relationship turns extremely dark indeed.

 

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Strangers on A Train 1951...Daily Dose # 13    *SPOILER ALERT...if you have never watched this movie maybe do not read this until afterward  & TY

 

What I notice first about the opening scene is the S curve within the arch & the curb...I guess the arch is only half  an S curve...being a photog we always look for natural & or unnatural S curves in man made structures &  natural plants  & other things within nature. I see the S curves there as mentioned in the man made arch & curbs at the train station.

 

I have mentioned here on this forum about less being more when it comes to music...where is the music coming from?  But I like the 'lilting' & light style of music when the camera is on the shoes & the two main characters waking into the train...that 's fine with me. I'm far from being a music expert. I go by what I like or dislike when it comes to movie music.

 

I would have called the black & white shoes 'spats' it seems to fit the shoe design, but when I Googled spats it did not fit this style of shoe.... this character Bruno (Robert Walker) looks like a show off & then he bumps his foot with Guy (Farley Granger). I wonder if he did this on purpose when he saw it was someone famous?...a tennis player.

 

Bruno is a show off & has his name on his tie  saying it came from his mother so he must wear it...we have to take his word that he is telling the truth...maybe his mother did not give him the tie & he is only showing off his name there. He engages Guy in conversation & I believe it is because he recognizes Guy as being a local celebrity or more if he is a well known sports hero. Bruno says to Guy, "Oh,I do certainly admire people who do things."

 

I have watched this movie several times in the past & it is one of my favs of Hitchcock.  I have seen this story line later become used time & time again in other TV & movies...that is because it is a very good story/plot line. All types of psychological problems can be added to the characters ...just like in Shadow of A Doubt with the character of Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotton).  What makes a person become a serial killer?  What makes a man hate a woman so much he desires to kill her above all else? These kind of questions come up in Hitchcock's movies often.  Motive; what motivates these men to kill? 

 

We later meet Bruno's mother (Marion Lorne) & she acts like she has not a clue about why her son acts the way he does or why he treats her the way he does. She probably does not have a clue.

 

I adore the later scene with the glasses of Bruno's victim...his wife Mirian (Laura Elliott) on the ground & the camera is the eye witness...love that scene & camera trick. Also, the scene where Bruno almost strangles  Mrs. Cunningham (Norman Varden) at the party. The scene at the end with the lighter is so full of tension I almost can;t stand even after watching this movie multiple times. Great movie.

 

Pat aka Patricia Hitchcock plays Barbara Morten, Ann's sister in this movie ...Hitchcock's daughter in real life.

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The idea of "crisscross" is displayed in the tracks crossing, diverging and merging in various paths.  We also see two men from different walks of life.

 

 One character is an affluent tennis star (as displayed in his spectator shoes, trousers) and one just the average guy with mundane shoes.  They are arriving by cab and private car, one has apparently a valet to carry his bags.  As we travel upward to their faces, one is open and gregarious while the other is reserved, not inviting of conversation.

 

Tiomkin's score is swirling, undefined, and troubling.  We can't get a firm sense of mood because the motif keeps changing, putting us off-balance.

 

 

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Strangers on A Train 1951...Daily Dose # 13    *SPOILER ALERT...if you have never watched this movie maybe do not read this until afterward  & TY

 

What I notice first about the opening scene is the S curve within the arch & the curb...I guess the arch is only half  an S curve...being a photog we always look for natural & or unnatural S curves in man made structures &  natural plants  & other things within nature. I see the S curves there as mentioned in the man made arch & curbs at the train station.

 

I have mentioned here on this forum about less being more when it comes to music...where is the music coming from?  But I like the 'lilting' & light style of music when the camera is on the shoes & the two main characters waking into the train...that 's fine with me. I'm far from being a music expert. I go by what I like or dislike when it comes to movie music.

 

I would have called the black & white shoes 'spats' it seems to fit the shoe design, but when I Googled spats it did not fit this style of shoe.... this character Bruno (Robert Walker) looks like a show off & then he bumps his foot with Guy (Farley Granger). I wonder if he did this on purpose when he saw it was someone famous?...a tennis player.

 

Bruno is a show off & has his name on his tie  saying it came from his mother so he must wear it...we have to take his word that he is telling the truth...maybe his mother did not give him the tie & he is only showing off his name there. He engages Guy in conversation & I believe it is because he recognizes Guy as being a local celebrity or more if he is a well known sports hero. Bruno says to Guy, "Oh,I do certainly admire people who do things."

 

I have watched this movie several times in the past & it is one of my favs of Hitchcock.  I have seen this story line later become used time & time again in other TV & movies...that is because it is a very good story/plot line. All types of psychological problems can be added to the characters ...just like in Shadow of A Doubt with the character of Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotton).  What makes a person become a serial killer?  What makes a man hate a woman so much he desires to kill her above all else? These kind of questions come up in Hitchcock's movies often.  Motive; what motivates these men to kill? 

 

We later meet Bruno's mother (Marion Lorne) & she acts like she has not a clue about why her son acts the way he does or why he treats her the way he does. She probably does not have a clue.

 

I adore the later scene with the glasses of Bruno's victim...his wife Mirian (Laura Elliott) on the ground & the camera is the eye witness...love that scene & camera trick. Also, the scene where Bruno almost strangles  Mrs. Cunningham (Norman Varden) at the party. The scene at the end with the lighter is so full of tension I almost can;t stand even after watching this movie multiple times. Great movie.

 

Pat aka Patricia Hitchcock plays Barbara Morten, Ann's sister in this movie ...Hitchcock's daughter in real life.

 

You make an Interesting point about Bruno's mother being clueless. Marion Lorne excelled in playing that sort of character. Also, you are correct that Bruno was not wearing spats - he wore spectator shoes - but it was Guy who bumped his foot against Bruno's, and not the other way around. 

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1.      In how many ways does Hitchcock play with or visually manifest the metaphor of “criss cross” or “criss-crossing” in this introductory sequence. [For those who haven’t seen the film yet, the idea of “criss cross” is central idea in this film, a theme Hitch sets up from the opening frames of this film] Be specific.

I’m taking creative license with this question.  In lieu of answering “how many”, I’m going to comment on one of the first things to actually cross (touch, really), and one of my personal favorite things in the opening scene – the shoes. There are many striking differences between the pairs of shoes Guy and Bruno are wearing. I see them as symbolic of the men’s two styles, personalities and ways. Bruno’s shoes are spectators and evoke the jazz era. They are flashy and fun, and also a little dangerous in a fashion context (are they appropriate for a first class* passenger?). Guy’s shoes are clean and tidy, but not very daring. They are “safe”, in a fashion context.

 

 

*are they in first class?  A first class dining car?  Or is that how stylishly everyone traveled then?  If so, I am letting out a big SIGH as I write from a current business trip on which there are no such frills.

 

2.     Even in this brief scene, how does Hitchcock create a sense of contrast between Guy (Farley Granger) and Bruno (Robert Walker)? Consider everything from camera work, to clothing and shoes, to dialogue and speech, for example.

Refer to my comments above about the shoes.

 

Bruno is in contrast to Guy in that:  one, he is extroverted and claims not to “talk much” when, in actual fact, he is gregarious and quite talkative.  Guy is somewhat introverted, polite, a little sheepish, especially for someone who is a tennis star.

 

There is a notable contrast between the first few minutes where everything is filmed and shown roughly “below the knee”, if you will, and then as soon as the shoes touch – wham – you’re in a lighted train car with all the “bells and whistles” of a first class [dining] car.

 

Also, forgive me for introducing current political references into the conversation, but even in comparison to a recent 29-second handshake that took place in Paris, that is one weird “hand shake” between those two men!  (Does Guy even actually shake?!)

 

3.     While the visual design gets the most attention typically, how does the Dimitri Tiomkin score function as part of the mood and atmosphere of this opening sequence?

Can I confess I barely noticed?  It is rather zippy and lighthearted while they’re in the car.  I believe my subconscious picked that up.

 

I love this film!!!

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Daily Does #13  

 

"Strangers on a train, exchanging glances, Strangers on a train, what were the chances, we both kill someone, before the film was through...."

 

  1. In how many ways does Hitchcock play with or visually manifest the metaphor of “criss cross” or “criss-crossing” in this introductory sequence. [For those who haven’t seen the film yet, the idea of “criss cross” is central idea in this film, a theme Hitch sets up from the opening frames of this film] Be specific.  

        The are many ways Hitchcock plays with the theme of Criss-crossing in the opening sequence, they include both physical and symbolic. 

  • The opening of the film, just before the titles begin, feature two men crossing the street in opposite directions (lower right side of frame).
  • The two protagonists(?) (central characters) then both arrive is cabs from different directions
  • the shots of the men walking are filmed so that they are "crossing"  first one way, then the opposite.  This is briefly neutralized by the shot of people going away from us past the ticket gate.
  • We then return to the men going in different directions again - as if they are headed for each other.
  • The shots of the rails crossing other rails, forming X's, as it goes over at least two, this is symbolic of a double-cross.
  • On the train, they first sit across from each other until they at least meet.
  • And finally, Guy's is wearing a checked tie, which forms a crossed pattern.

2.  Even in this brief scene, how does Hitchcock create a sense of contrast between Guy (Farley Granger) and Bruno (Robert Walker)? Consider everything from camera work, to clothing and shoes, to dialogue and speech, for example.

 

  • Bruno is flamboyant from his shoes to his garish tie.  Guy is conservative and quiet, brown shoes and suit, with only a checked tie to create contrast.
  • Guy is cerebral, reading a book when we first meet him on the train, Bruno is sitting and looking around.
  • Bruno is talky, Guy is quiet.(Beginning to sound like Goofus and Gallant from "Boys Life" magazine here)
  • The camera is on Bruno more than Guy at the beginning, even when just seeing his feet.
  • Bruno is a fast talker, Guy thinks before he speaks.

 

3.  While the visual design gets the most attention typically, how does the Dimitri Tiomkin score function as part of the mood and atmosphere of this opening sequence?

 

I happened to have a CD of Alfred Hitchcock: Music From His Films.  And I've always liked the opening bit from Strangers on a Train.  It begins with a Horn fanfare for the titles, which give way to strings for opening credits and then segues to an almost "light-hearted" or "hometown USA" melody beginning with the cabs arriving.  Each cab arrival has an almost identical riff.  But the music does not connotate any danger.  This could be a comedy film.  On rehearing this bit of music just before answering this question I was struck by how similar it sounded to the music used for the Kansas Farm sequence in Wizard of Oz).  I associate the light-hearted music more with the casualness of Bruno rather than Guy, but the music sets us up for "just another ordinary day" type of feel.

 

Walt3rd.

 

 

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Daily Dose #13

Daily Dose #13: Criss Cross
Opening Scene from Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train (1951)

 

1. In how many ways does Hitchcock play with or visually manifest the metaphor of “criss cross” or “criss-crossing” in this introductory sequence. [For those who haven’t seen the film yet, the idea of “criss cross” is central idea in this film, a theme Hitch sets up from the opening frames of this film] Be specific.

I personally love this opening scene from the very first time I watched the movie and I think that the criss cross metaphor is suggested pretty early. The fact that the credits are accompained with a image of the street where we can see cars moving conveys the idea of transportation, of path. Then, the focuse on shoes, which are other element related with movement and path that is finally remarked with the context of the train station and the POV of the trin itself.

 

Besides the objects, I believe that one of the key audiovisual tools for this scene to express the idea of criss cross is the editing. The cut from the arriving, route through the station and inside the train of Guy to the Bruno's is essential to propose the encounter of these two characters. In my opinion, this is a good example of the match between the Griffith's influence on the creation of suspense by crosscutting different spaces and actions with emphasis on detail and the soviet montage's imprint in which the juxtaposition and contrast of two images express a third idea. This combination (wich also involves the importance given by Hithcock to compelling shots and character construction) transmits anticipation to the inminent meeting and pose the concept of different paths converging.  

  

2. Even in this brief scene, how does Hitchcock create a sense of contrast between Guy (Farley Granger) and Bruno (Robert Walker)? Consider everything from camera work, to clothing and shoes, to dialogue and speech, for example.

Because of the relevance attributed to the shoes, one of the first differences is set through the particular models of each of the pairs correspondants to Bruno (who highlights more with a sophisticated black and white model) and Guy (who wears a sober black design). Also, it is interesting where the camera is placed in the shots of each character due to the dissimilar perspective it conveys in each cases. I would add that the pressence of the rackets among the Guy's luggage provides an extra ingredient to this. Other element of contrast is the way of walking and the opposite direction to where they are going which combined with the previous signs remarks that the eccentric and peculiar Bruno diverges from the serious and more conventional Guy. 

 

Finally, I would like to point out that inside the train, the clothes (the light coloured striped suit and shirt of Bruno and the dark unstriped suit and standard white shirt of Guy) with the behavior (the more talkative and easygoing attitude of Bruno and the more concise response of Guy) contribute to that matter as well.   

 

3. While the visual design gets the most attention typically, how does the Dimitri Tiomkin score function as part of the mood and atmosphere of this opening sequence?

In my opinion, the score confirms the difference between Bruno and Guy by changing the use of low and high notes from the shot of one character to the other's. Moreover, it increases the anticipation and suspense of the encounter matching the melody with the steps of both of them. It is true that it seems to get a greater intensity but it opts for the a silence before to include another sound that coincides when the shoes collide.  

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In how many ways does Hitchcock play with or visually manifest the metaphor of “criss cross” or “criss-crossing” in this introductory sequence. [For those who haven’t seen the film yet, the idea of “criss cross” is central idea in this film, a theme Hitch sets up from the opening frames of this film] Be specific.

 

There are several crosses now that I think about it. You have the train tracks criss crossing several times. People crossing in front of each other as they arrive at the station. Bruno crosses his legs before Guy bumps into him.

 

Even in this brief scene, how does Hitchcock create a sense of contrast between Guy (Farley Granger) and Bruno (Robert Walker)? Consider everything from camera work, to clothing and shoes, to dialogue and speech, for example.

 

Guy seems to be quiet wheras Bruno talks a lot. Guy seems more focused on his book while Bruno is focused on Guy. The camera seems more focused on Bruno but not so much on Guy. Bruno's shoes are more stylish that Guy's. We see Bruno's feet first. He seems more of the main character than Guy.

 

While the visual design gets the most attention typically, how does the Dimitri Tiomkin score function as part of the mood and atmosphere of this opening sequence?

 

I noticed that it seemed like a happy tune with a lot of drum bass when the door to the cars opened. It wasn't quite menacing but it gave you a sense of hey this might be important.

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  1. In how many ways does Hitchcock play with or visually manifest the metaphor of “criss cross” or “criss-crossing” in this introductory sequence. [For those who haven’t seen the film yet, the idea of “criss cross” is central idea in this film, a theme Hitch sets up from the opening frames of this film] Be specific.

     

Obviously, the train tracks have the criss-cross design for track changes.  The going back and forth between two men, who are clearly going to be different types of men.  They both cross their legs before hitting feet, which means they will. 

 

Since Bruno is looking for Guy, they are crossing paths “intentionally” although I am not sure how Bruno happens to find him.  I imagine he would go look for him if Guy passed by.

 

  1. Even in this brief scene, how does Hitchcock create a sense of contrast between Guy (Farley Granger) and Bruno (Robert Walker)? Consider everything from camera work, to clothing and shoes, to dialogue and speech, for example.

     

Both have some social status and money because they don’t carry their own bags.  Guy is not as stylish (his suitcoat) but he’s an athlete who is probably less concerned about that; he was a more vigorous, let’s just get there walk.  I think at that time Bruno would have been seen as a bit effeminate in his mannerisms and walk and those shoes.    When they start to talk Bruno just gets creepy really fast.  He sits too close and doesn’t know when to stop; Guy is not arrogant but likes that he is noticed as a good athlete.  He has no idea how creepy Bruno is going to get.

 

  1. While the visual design gets the most attention typically, how does the Dimitri Tiomkin score function as part of the mood and atmosphere of this opening sequence?  I closed my eyes and the score definitely works at an important level.  The opening music is almost epic or tragic; no hint of humor in it.  But when they start getting out of the taxis the music sounds, well, like a Western rodeo to me, not to be taken seriously.  Yet as they get closer together something underlying is happening with the music.  It does seem to say there is a dark undercurrent in the world even though we can seem lighthearted on the surface.  What I am getting out of the Hitchcock talks is a very dark view of the universe underlying veneer of civilization, which is really true in this movie. 

     

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We see the opening scene with the two sets of train tracks criss crossing, leading us to believe that

there will be two different paths taken.

The two cabs also cross paths.

 

We follow the footsteps of the two main characters. Bruno with his flamboyant spats, and the tie clip with

BRUNO spelled out, for all the world to see; like he is showing off. His suit is more garish and loud. I see Bruno as the "Ne'r Do Well".

Guy as the more famous of the two, being the renowned tennis player. He dresses more conservatively.

A nice suit, and plain shoes, not drawing any attention to himself.

 

The music is also more light and playful as the camera follows Guy's footsteps, like he is going on a

delightful trip.

The music takes on a more suspenseful turn that lends mystery to the story as we follow

Bruno's footsteps.

 

This film has so many of Hitchcock's touches that it is a mesmerizing character study,

capturing our attention right from the start.

Having an intriguing quality of a game to it,that reinforces the criss cross

angle brilliantly!

People wear such nice clothes back then. Ward Cleaver woke up in bed with a three piece suit on. Incredible.

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Besides the obvious motifs of crisscrossing, like the tracks and the feet meeting, Hitchcock's motif is reflected on the walking and cinematography direction. Depending on the character, Hitch establishes Bruno to walk and remain on the right side and Guy on the left of the screen. The motion of the camera provides one two types of direction, right and left, in this opening scene. 

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