In the 1951 Alfred Hitchcock classic Strangers on a Train, Farley Granger should have kept his nose in his racket case.
But his tennis-playing nice guy (named Guy, incidentally) didn't, and so he ended up the pawn in a "you commit my murder and I'll commit yours" scheme devised by Robert Walker's daddy-resenting madman.
Granger, a leading man in the early 1950s who penned the candid 2008 memoir Include Me Out: My Life From Goldwyn to Broadway, died Monday of natural causes in New York. He was 85.
Strangers on a Train, adapted from the Patricia Highsmith story and later the inspiration for Throw Momma From the Train, was easily Granger's most memorable film, though his big brown eyes and chiseled jaw served him well for upward of three decades.
Granger, a native of San Jose, Calif., came to Hollywood right out of high school and was discovered by producer Samuel Goldwyn, back in the days when studios would sign actors to exclusive multiyear deals. He also served in the Navy and was stationed in Hawaii during World War II, according to his book.
His breakthrough role came in Hitchcock's 1948 adaptation of the play Rope, inspired by the thrill-kill Leopold and Loeb case, in which Granger plays an accomplice to a murder and then cohosts a party where the guests mingle, unaware that there's a dead guy stuffed in a trunk in the living room.
In 1949, he starred as a doomed criminal on the run with his sweetheart in They Live by Night, directed by Nicholas Ray, a major contributor to the noir genre who later made Rebel Without a Cause.
Granger made Strangers in 1951, and in 1954 he played a womanizing Austrian lieutenant who begins a destructive love affair with an Italian countess in Senso, Luchino Visconti's art-house melodrama that was recently reissued on DVD and Blu-ray.
After he returned from Italy, he starred in The Naked Street and The Girl on the Red Velvet Swing in 1955.
Into the 1960s and beyond, Granger worked mostly in TV and theater.
He reminisces in his memoir—which he collaborated on with soap opera producer Robert Calhoun, his partner from 1963 until Calhoun's death three years ago—about his relationships (and flings) with both men and women, including Ava Gardner, Patricia Neal, Shelly Winters, composer Leonard Bernstein and playwright Arthur Laurents, who adapted Rope for the big screen.