Pat Hitchcock
Hitchcock Season interview


date: 1997

interviewer: unknown

main topics: Strangers on a Train

link to video: Youtube

The following is Pat Hitchcock talking about her involvement in Strangers on a Train, and in particular the party scene where Bruno almost chokes to death an elderly woman.

"I was studying here in London at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and I was graduating and I was about to go into rep... I think up in Nottingham... I'm not really sure about this. In the meanwhile, [Alfred Hitchcock] was making a movie and there was a wonderful part for me in it and he asked me if I'd like to do it. I went back and read the script and it was a wonderful part.

He would find a story, he then would take it to my mother and have her read. And if she thought it would make a film then he would go ahead with it. And he would then go on and have a treatment done and then the screenplay, but all the way along the line he would divert to her. She was actually in the business before he was. He would then take the finished screenplay and sit in his office with a piece of paper, a pad with three rectangles on. He would then draw every single shot in the movie. Then he would get the cameraman in and show him exactly what the movie was gonna look like. When he got on a set, he'd said he'd already made the film. That's why it was so great working with him, because he was able to devote all of his time to the actors. If he didn't like something, he would very quietly come up to you and say: "I think it might be better if you tried it in such and such a way". And you did, and of course it was right!

In Strangers on a Train, I am playing Ruth Roman's sister. Ruth Roman was the one Farley Granger was in love with. Robert Walker had killed Farley Granger's wife and his wife wore glasses, rather thick glasses. Robert Walker has meanwhile wormed his way into this party to scare Farley Granger into doing the double killing and killing his father. At one point, a woman is talking to Robert Walker and he is talking about how easy it would be to kill somebody and says: actually, the best way and the most silent way is strangling them. As he puts his hands around her throat, he looks up and I am standing behind, and he looks at me, he sees the girl he has killed in the glasses. And at this point, I am just absolutely horrified because his hands were on her throat, but he was strangling me. I think he was using her, when I look back on it, as the audience. I think he was having her go through what the audience went through.

The use of the music is very important, because he goes back to the fairground so that the people will understand and remember that it's Robert Walker killing the girl and that's what he's seeing. And that's why [Alfred Hitchcock] worked very closely with the musical director, the composer. Already he had decided that before he shot the movie.

I would have loved it if he would believe in nepotism, because I could have done more pictures with him. But he only cast people if he thought they were absolutely right for the part. I could have told him a lot of parts that I could have played, but he didn't believe it".