Given a good basis for a thriller in the Patricia Highsmith novel [script adaption by Whitfield Cook] and a first-rate script, Hitchcock embroiders the plot into a gripping, palm-sweating piece of suspense.
Story offers a fresh situation for murder. Two strangers meet on a train. One is Farley Granger, separated from his tramp wife (Laura Elliott) and in love with Ruth Roman. The other is Robert Walker, a neurotic playboy who hates his rich father. Walker proposes that he will kill Elliott if Granger will do away with the father. Granger treats the proposal as a bad joke but Walker is serious.
Latter stalks down Elliott in an amusement park and strangles her. He then starts chasing Granger to make him fulfill the other end of the bargain.
Performance-wise, the cast comes through strongly. Granger is excellent as the harassed young man innocently involved in murder. Roman’s role of a nice, understanding girl is a switch for her, and she makes it warmly effective. Walker’s role has extreme color, and he projects it deftly. Elliott stands out briefly as the victim, and Patricia Hitchcock (the director’s daughter) also registers.
[In the UK pic was released in version two minutes longer, with a truncated ending but a longer sequence in which the men meet on the train.]
1951: Nomination: Best B&W Cinematography