The Old Man under the Carousel in Strangers on a Train (film still from Strangers on a Train)

Strangers on a Train (1951)

At the climax of Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, there’s a frenetic fight that takes place on an out-of-control fairground carousel (or merry-go-round, if you’re British like Hitchcock).

Although most of the scene was shot in a studio using rear projection and sometimes miniatures, there was one stunt that was done for real: the old man who crawls under the carousel in order to try to turn it off.

There are a lot of rumours about this scene: that the actor was a randomly selected extra, that Hitchcock had nightmares for the rest of his life, and so on. Here’s what Hitchcock actually said about the scene, taken from an interview with film historian Peter Bogdanovich, which appears as a commentary on some versions of the DVD:

AH: The most dangerous thing I ever did in that picture, when the little man crawled underneath. That was actual.

PB: That was for real? How did you get the shot?

AH: I had a camera shooting underneath the merry-go-round – the real one – and my hands sweat now, when I think of it.

Not quite the life-long trauma for Hitch that it’s sometimes made out to be, but still pretty hairy, a great cinematic moment nonetheless.

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