Critics of Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train (1951) have attended to the film’s motifs of doubling, pairing, and reversal. We, however, approach Strangers on a Train as an interrogation of the couple form, as a violently comic challenge to its normative regulation of the social order. If the film is obsessed with the number two, it is equally obsessed with all the ways in which this even number can prove to be odd or strange or queer, as exemplified from the beginning by the male strangers coupled by its title. Such is the force of the film’s obsession with the number two, however, that it features more than one odd couple; indeed, it may be said to constitute a veritable carnival of couples, whose insistence on adding up to more or less than two compels us to reflect on the relations between queerness and the couple — on how the couple necessarily exceeds itself.

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