Three Fags on a Train
What is it about fags on a train—that captivates the nefarious noir gay imagination of Alfred Hitchcock? There’s his Shadow of a Doubt (1943) with Joseph Cotton, Strangers on a Train (1951) with Robert Walker and Farley Granger, as well as North by Northwest (1959) with Cary Grant, James Mason and Martin Landau.
Three fags on a train, three gay film noir movies, three train rides into suspense and murder, Miss Cotton swishing into town in Shadow of a Doubt, posing as nice friendly Uncle Charley—only to be slowly revealed as the Merry Widow Murderer who does in wealthy, vain, bored women for a faggy gigolo predatory living.
Faggy Farley Granger’s chance encounter with equally faggy Robert Walker, in a speeding commuter train’s club car, setting up a gay nonchalant tit-for-a-tat murder proposition between these two flighty queens, Walker anxious to bump off his rich unfriendly father for a big inheritance and the nelly, dizzy tennis player Granger who wants to ditch his shrewish, snively, ugly wife.
And then there’s snide, sophisticated, Manhattan smooth businessman Cary Grant—who accidentally gets sucked into a long train ride with the girlfriend of two evil homosexual spies, svelte James Mason and weaselly Martin Landau, ending up getting buzzed by a machine-gun shooting airplane in a dirty Illinois cornfield, then left hanging on the tip of George Washington’s huge phallic nose there on Mt. Rushmore clinging for his life.
What’s a girl to do?—getting all mixed up so romantically and yet dangerously with all that train nostalgic, long-gone now, lovely mode of obsolete transportation—when gay romance could take its leisurely time in club rooms and intimate compartments, back when a fag could be a minor yet romantic preoccupation tres entertaining?
Perhaps one should also add Sudden Fear (1951)—with queen bee Joan Crawford and nefarious snaky Jack Palance in their comfy little cross-country compartment on that train from NYC to SF—playing cards, having drinks, chatting it up and ending up with another murderous rendezvous and homicidal marriage tryst between a sullen killer and the tragic classic fag hag queen bee Diva Crawford…