With Alfred Hitchcock pushing through in a renewed way (HBO’s The Girl, Fox Searchlight’s Hitchcock + the Universal Bluray boxset glitch) and a new Strangers on a Train Bluray streeting on 10.9, it’s an opportune time to re-savor the Strangers finale. I was just doodling around last night and there it was again, reminding how quickly and suddenly things can fall apart and people can lose their reason.

The carousel crash is a very impressive special effect for 1951, but it’s not half bad by 2012 standards either. The timing and rhythm of the montage — the cutting together of all the pieces — is just right, and I shudder to think of how this scene would be edited today.

And it’s all propelled by weird mistakes and shocking ineptitude. A cop fires at a mere suspect in a murder case, and in so doing fires right into a carousel with kids on it? The old man crawling underneath the wildly spinning carousel, and then he doesn’t save the day at the end — he reverses the engine too suddenly and thereby worsens the panic and chaos and kills at least one passenger (i.e., Robert Walker‘s Bruno Antony) and God knows how many others.

My favorite bit is (a) the panicking mother wailing “my little boy!” and then cutting to the kid having the time of his life, and then (b) a second bit with Walker almost throwing the kid off and Farley Granger preventing this.

And I love that vaguely horrific, early Bunuelian flavor in those one or two inserts of the carousel horse heads bobbing up and down.