Film 101 Final Paper
Mamet and Hitchcock’s Suspenseful Similarities
While comparing the film’s Strangers on a Train, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and The Spanish Prisoner directed by David Mamet, two suspenseful mysteries unfold. In this essay I will compare both directors use of themes, tones, and camera effects to convey the thrilling story of a confused and tortured protagonist. While they are different plotlines, both stories overlap in many ways. Perhaps Mamet may have even made an homage to Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train by mirroring various scenes and themes in The Spanish Prisoner. Strangers on a Train is the story of two strangers that meet on a train, but it is hardly that simple. One a tennis star, Guy Haines, and the other, a wealthy psychopath Bruno Anthony. Bruno proposes a scheme to Guy to kill someone the other person wants to dispose of, a “criss-cross”. Unknowingly, Guy agrees to kill Bruno’s enemy and vice versa. Bruno kills Guy’s wife that he had been trying to divorce, and expects Guy to kill his father. They get mixed up in a cat a dog chase of murder and confusion, which ended with Bruno’s death and Guy marrying the women he loved, Anne Morton. The Spanish Prisoner is titled from a con game that traps a mark into turning over thousands of dollars to scam artists. David Mamet character Joe Ross is a math genius that devised a "process" that will earn his company billions of dollars. The process is the maguffin (a typical trait of Hitchcock); we never find out what the process is, only that rival Japanese corporations will do anything to steal it. Joe Ross ends up happily ever after similarly to Guy Haines. Both stories reflect one another in multiple ways. One is that Bruno the sympathetic villain in Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train that we love and hate is very similar to that of Julian ‘Jimmy’ Dell who elaborately tried to steal the process. We grow relationships with Jimmy Dell and with Bruno Anthony; they are both...
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