Family in Strangers on a Train

    In the movie Strangers on a Train, one character in particular plays a role in creating many of the Hitchcock trademarks within the film.  Bruno Antony’s character is necessary for Hitchcock to utilize Freudian theory and to create one of his classic motifs: the dysfunctional family.

      Bruno clearly has an Oedipal relationship with his mother.  Specific instances when viewed in combination create this evidence. For example, the instance when Bruno wears a tie with his name on it, and states that he only wears it because his mother gave it to him and he wants to make her happy. In another scene, Antony holds his mother just a little too close for a normal mother-son-relationship after viewing her painting.  This painting, and Bruno’s sadistic laughter coupled with his comment, also illustrate an oedipal complex.  The painting is evidently supposed to look like a human, but looks more like a demon, and Antony comments that it looks like his father. This comment along with Antony’s blatant attempt to have his father murdered show the side of the Oedipal complex which involves competition against the father.  These characteristics (mother-loving, father-hating/killing) are part of Freudian theory, and Bruno was a vehicle for Hitchcock to insert Freudian theory into the movie.

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The idea of being a “mama’s boy” also carries other implication, in stereotypes and in this film.  Oftentimes a close relationship between a mother and son is seen as an indication of the son being homosexual.  Other aspects of Bruno’s behavior and manner also point out his homosexuality, such as his effeminate way of speaking, his fashionable clothing choices, his physical closeness to Guy on the opening train scene, his talkativeness, and his careful self-grooming.  Bruno’s homosexuality adds an interesting layer to the his relationship with Guy, implying possible sexual undertones during their interactions.  Another element of Freudian theory suggests that Bruno is Guy’s double- that he represents Guy’s unconscious and conscious desires (i.e. being gay, killing Miriam).

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Wood, Robin. “Murderous Gays: Hitchcock’s Homophobia.” In Hitchcock’s Films Revisited, 338. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989.

 

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