by Sarah Shotwell

strangers-on-a-train_blogThis Christmas, take a break from your wonderful conveyor belt of holiday films, and indulge in a classy double murder, paired (appropriately) with two contrasting wines.

Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train is a pulse-jogging thriller narrating the story of two men who cross paths while traveling. Mid-Century heartthrob Farley Granger plays the unlucky protagonist, Guy Haines, a tennis star with a saucy, infuriating ex-wife bent on making his life miserable. But the show is stolen by the charming Bruno (Robert Walker), the magnetic antagonist who nails down the iconic, Hitchcockian trope of the “loveable psychopath” like he was born to do it. Bruno is a wealthier, classier, and funnier Norman Bates (Psycho), with an equally strange relationship with his mother. Strangers on a Train, while lesser known than pop favorites like Vertigo, Rear Window, and The Birds, holds its own among Hitchcock’s best films, and is a regular favorite of film instructors. Full of visual motifs (lobsters! tennis rackets! coke-bottle glasses!), psychological tension, sinister camera angles, and eye-popping lighting, Strangers on a Train still holds the breathless attention of modern audiences, without revealing a single drop of blood.

This crowd-pleasing film deserves a pair of two wines to share among friends. In the spirit of black-and-white character doubles, we think a spicy, earthy Pinot Noir and a light, crisp Pinot Blanc do the job delightfully. Opposites best attract when they share a common denominator. Two Pinots. Two murders. Criss-cross.

Strangers on a Train will play on TCM on December 22, 6:00 PM (ET) and Sunday, January 1 at 7:30 AM (ET)