I was truly sorry to learn, somewhat belatedly, that Farley Granger died Sunday at the age of 85.
These days, most people probably don't know who Granger was — and the truth is that he really was before my time as well. He was a "matinee idol," as the New York Times wrote. One of the last of the breed.
He began his career in the movies, but he did a lot of TV and stage work in his later years, and he had mostly made that transition before I was born.
But that didn't prevent me from enjoying his film work — and, since his most noteworthy films were directed by Alfred Hitchcock, it was only natural that I would see them.
My parents, as I have mentioned here before, were Hitchcock fans, and they passed along their fondness for his work to me. I watched several Hitchcock movies with them over the years, but we never watched his collaborations with Granger. Those I saw by myself.
When people speak of the work Granger and Hitchcock did together, the conversation inevitably seems to turn to "Strangers on a Train," their 1951 classic (which will observe its 60th anniversary on June 30). And there is no doubt, as far as I am concerned, that "Strangers on a Train" was a great movie.
- The American Film Institute named it #32 on its list of the top 100 thrillers in movie history — a list that included eight other Hitchcock movies, three of which were in the Top 10.
- It was the inspiration for Billy Crystal's 1987 black comedy, "Throw Momma From the Train." It was a hit with the moviegoing audience even though it got mixed reviews from critics.