Monday, November 11, 2013

Strangers on a Train on Stage

If you’re going to create a new iteration of Patricia Highsmith’s debut novel, Strangers on a Train, you’d better go hard or go home. The book itself is critically acclaimed, sure. On the surface, it is a novel of suspense but, quite beyond that, there is social and human subtext that only seems to deepens over multiple reads. But that’s just the beginning. Strangers on a Train has been imitated, parodied and adapted probably even more than can be determined.

Most notably, of course, was Alfred Hitchcock’s 1951 film. The movie starred Farley Granger, Ruth Roman, and Robert Walker, and writers hired to work on the film included none other than Raymond Chandler. He wasn’t on the project long, though. The only input Chandler got from Hitchcock after handing in the first draft of his adaptation was firing. After the film came out, Chandler sent the director a note. “Dear Hitch,” he began, “Regardless of whether or not my name appears on the screen among the credits, I’m not afraid that anybody will think I wrote this stuff. They’ll know damn well I didn’t. I shouldn’t have minded in the least if you had produced a better script -- believe me. I shouldn’t. But if you wanted something written in skim milk, why on earth did you bother to come to me in the first place?”

Accusations of skim milkiness not withstanding, the film was both critically and publicly acclaimed and remains one of the most referenced noir films of all time.
First edition cover.

Following in these famous footsteps, a stage version of the novel opened on the London stage on November 2nd.  Laurence Fox, Jack Huston, ChristIan McKay, Miranda Raison, Imogen Stubbs and MyAnna Buring are starring in the Craig Warner (The Last Days of Lehman Brothers, Codebreaker) stage adaptation. The play is directed by Robert Allan Ackerman (The Ramen Girl, Filthy Gorgeous). The play will run at the Gielgud Theatre in London’s West End until February.

From Broadway World:
A seemingly innocent conversation soon turns into a dangerous reality for Guy Haines (played by Laurence Fox) when he meets Charles Bruno (Jack Huston) on a train journey. Ahead lies a deadly nightmare of blackmail and psychological torment that threatens to cost Guy his career, his marriage and his sanity. His choice: to kill, or to be framed for a murder he didn't commit.


Blogger Trish Saunders said...

It would have been interesting to see what Raymond Chandler did with the script. But it's hard to imagine how he could have improved it. If only Hitch had been around to direct the recent "The Talented Mr. Ripley" -- in my opinion it was a sad waste of Highsmith's immense talent.

Monday, November 11, 2013 at 1:08:00 PM PST  

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