When watching a movie, what does one usually focus on? Of course, it’s the protagonist’s story, the conflicts they encounter, and how they solve them. But there are times, although rare, when a story does not only revolve around the character everyone knows. And here, ExploreTalent lists must-watch movies with interesting plot lines that center around the existence of a stranger and how their presence changes the whole story.
3 Must-Watch Movies About Mysterious Strangers
Some movies use the presence of unknown characters to add spice to the story. As to what purpose these strangers serve in the story, it differs. Some are there to test the main character’s strength; some serve as the turning point in the plot, giving way for more secrets to be told and more characters to be revealed; and in horror movies, they are used as the central plot device.
Either way, when mysterious strangers start appearing, the story gets more interesting. If you need some proofs, here are five must-watch movies featuring mysterious strangers that you will surely love.
Strangers on a Train, 1951
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Farley Granger as Guy Haines, Strangers on a Train centers around Guy’s quest to be with the woman of his dreams. The problem is, he is a married man, stuck in a relationship with a woman he doesn’t love.
Guy is riding a train when he is confronted by a stranger, who seems to have figured out his dilemma. The man then proposes a solution to his problem—he will kill Guy’s wife and Guy will have to murder someone the man wants dead too.
Guy is caught off guard by the man’s words. He doesn’t believe him at first, but when Guy finds himself staring at his wife’s corpse, he realizes by then the stranger is serious with his proposal.
Although Strangers on a Train isn’t as popular as Hitchcock’s other movies, it is a film that has left a mark on its viewers’ memory. It was even given a 98 percent rating by Rotten Tomatoes, but with an interesting story line and the mind-blowing way a stranger has turned the protagonist’s life upside down, it is just well deserving of positive review from critics.
Knife in the Water, 1962
This 1962 film features only three actors, but that doesn’t make it not worth watching; in fact, that’s what makes this movie even more interesting.
Couple Andrzej (Leon Niemczyk) and Krystyna (Jolanta Umecka) are out to go sailing on a lake when on their way, a young hitchhiker suddenly jumps into the middle of the road and they accidentally hit him. Realizing that the boy is just out in the street for some fun, the couple decides to invite the young man along. When they arrive at their destination, they agree to take him with them as they pursue their plan for the day. Things take an interesting turn when Andrzej and the hitchhiker start fighting over Krystyna’s attention.
The presence of the stranger created a tension that later became the main focus of the movie. For a debut film, Knife in the Water gained so much attention and praise. This movie did not only cement its director’s, Roman Polanski, name as one of the best directors of all time but also paved way for the Polish cinema to be recognized worldwide. Knife in the Water was also nominated for Best Foreign Language Film in the 36th Academy Awards, although it lost to Federico Fellini’s 8 ½.
Bad Day at Black Rock, 1955
Featuring a star-studded cast, Bad Day at Black Rock gained critical and commercial success due to its impressive take on the stranger genre.
Directed by John Sturges, Bad Day at Black Rock stars Spencer Tracy as John Macready and Robert Ryan as Reno Smith. The movie opens with one-armed Macreedy taking a train to Black Rock to find a man named Komoko. Eyes are on him as he gets off the train as it is the first time in four years that a train has made a stop in the town. Macreedy then meets Smith who tells him that Komoko interned during the Second World War.
But Macreedy, convinced that the town is not telling him everything that needs to be told, continues with his fact-finding, until he finds out the horrible truth—Komoko is dead and it was Smith and his men who murdered him.
Although the production of the Bad Day at Black Rock encountered a lot of issues and was often postponed, it was still successfully made and turned out to be a box-office hit, making it one of the top must-watch movies from the 1950s. The film also went on to receive praises and even garnered awards. John Sturges was named best actor in the 1955 Cannes Film Festival and also received an Oscar nomination for his role.
People often overlook the presence of strangers in most movies, believing that there’s not much to see in whatever they say and do. But in these movies, their existence is what makes watching the whole film an interesting ride.