3. Strangers on a Train (1951)
Stars: Farley Granger, Ruth Roman, Robert Walker, Leo G. Carroll, Patricia Hitchcock, Laura Elliot
As a story, Strangers on a Train (based on Patricia Highsmith's 1950 novel) disturbingly exposes the combustibility of combining one man's weaknesses with another guy's purely evil sensibilities. Tennis pro Guy Hained (Farley Granger) casually meets Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker) on a locomotive, where the two new acquaintances eventually agree to fix the other's biggest problem through murder: Guy will kill Bruno's father while Bruno will off Guy's cheating wife. What Guy doesn't initially realize, however, is that Bruno's a total nutjob with deep, dark secrets.
With that intriguing narrative at his disposal, Hitchcock emphasizes the inherent thrills via a series of bravura visual set-pieces, a few of which rank up there with Psycho's shower scene and North by Northwest's airplane attack as the director's all-time best. One of them, seen in the image above, presents a heartbreaking, tragic murder through the victim's fallen glasses, and another, taking place during Strangers on a Train's rousing climax, shows hand-to-hand combat against a malfunctioning, unstoppably out-of-control merry-go-round.