Before Hollywood had entirely typecast Alfred Hitchcock as the master of suspense, with Mr. & Mrs. Smith
he was allowed to fashion an elegant romantic trifle starring Robert Montgomery and Carole Lombard. It probably won't replace Rear Window
in your affections, but the film is more than a curious footnote to the director's career. The two leads play David and Ann Smith, a devoted but endlessly squabbling couple who discover their three-year marriage isn't legal. When he unexpectedly hesitates to arrange a second wedding, she storms out in a huff and soon begins dating his solid, dependable business partner Jeff (Gene Raymond). The rest follows the formula laid down by such previous screwball comedies as The Awful Truth
(1937) and Bringing Up Baby
(1938): David employs fair means or foul to win back Ann's heart, causes all sorts of complicated mischief, then... well, three guesses what happens in the end.
The intriguing thing about the movie is how Hitchcock takes Norman Krasna's paper-thin script and adds sly undercurrents of menace. Violence seems about to erupt in the recurring scenes where Ann shaves her husband (suggestively holding a razor up to his throat)--and there's a touch of Vertigo in one scary moment when a jammed amusement park ride leaves two characters dangling helplessly high above the ground. Montgomery and Lombard keep the mood acceptably frivolous, while indicating the flawed nature of the marital relationship. From the evidence of this one-off, Hitchcock might have been among the best comedy directors in the business, had he so wished. --Peter Matthews
The Alfred Hitchcock Signature Collection contains the DVD debut of 8 Hitchcock classics including "Strangers on a Train Two-Disc Special Edition," and the following 7 new single-disc DVDs: "Dial M For Murder," "Foreign Correspondent" "Suspicion," "The Wrong Man," "Stage Fright," "I Confess" and "Mr. and Mrs. Smith." The previously released "North by Northwest" is also included in the 10-disc Signature Collection. Each of the 9 films in the collection shows why Hitchcock is regarded as one of Hollywood's most esteemed and important directors, and also brings legendary stars to the digital front including Cary Grant, Henry Fonda, Marlene Dietrich, Grace Kelly, Montgomery Clift and many others.
Strangers on a Train - En route from Washington, D.C., champion tennis player Guy Haines (Farley Granger) meets pushy playboy Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker). What begins as a chance encounter turns into a series of morbid confrontations, as Bruno manipulates his way into Guy's life. Bruno is eager to kill his father and knows Guy wants to marry a senator's daughter (Ruth Roman) but can't get a divorce from his wife. So Bruno suggests the men swap murders, which would leave no traceable clues or possible motives. Though Guy refuses, it won't be easy to rid himself of the psychopathic Bruno. Hitchcock's daughter Patricia appears in this film. The extra features included on the DVD are: Alternate 'preview' version of the film; Commentary by director Peter Bogdanovich, Psycho screenwriter Joseph Stephano, Strangers on a Train author Patricia Highsmith and biographer Andrew Wilson; New making-of documentary Strangers on a Train: A Hitchcock Classic, with Farley Granger, film historian Richard Schickel, Patricia Hitchcock O'Connell and other Hitchcock family members and colleagues recalling the making of this suspense landmark; Three intriguing featurettes: The Hitchcocks on Hitch, Strangers on a Train: The Victim's P.O.V., Strangers on a Train by M. Night Shyamalan; Alfred Hitchcock's Historical Meeting, a vintage newsreel.
Each DVD will be presented in a format preserving the aspect ratio of its original theatrical exhibition and will include the original theatrical trailer, and subtitles in English, French and Spanish.