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Rope

A 1948 film written by Hume Cronyn and Arthur Laurents, produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

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"You're quite a good chicken strangler as I recall"

  • Jun 1, 2007
  • by
Rating:
+3
"Rope," Alfred Hitchcock's first color film, is an adaptation of the play by Patrick Hamilton, which was re-named "Rope's End" when it hit Broadway. It is also loosely based upon the real-life Leopold/Loeb case. Like Hitchcock's "Dial M for Murder," "Rope" feels like it was created for the stage, using only one set and virtually no music. One of the most intriguing aspects of the film is that it was filmed in "real time," meaning that the 80 minutes which the film spans is intended to be a straight 80 minutes for the characters, though it has been discussed that the storyline actually occurs over about 100 minutes. Nevertheless, it's the continous takes which make the film so spectacular. The movie was edited from about seven 10-minute takes. At the end of each of these takes the camera focuses on some dark or black spot, originally intended to give theater operators a chance to change the reel and to mask the fact that there was any editing done at all. It works well.

The story is classic Hitchcock: two prep school pals decide to commit a murder just for the sake of doing so. They plan everything to perfection, and for the finishing touch, they invite a group of people to dinner, feasting upon the chest in which the corpse is contained. Among those invited are the parents of the deceased, his would-be fiance, his best friend, and the murderous duo's eccentric old professor, who they think would approve of their scheme. John Dall is the driving force behind this whole ghastly operation, and he overplays his role with a reckless pompousness. His best friend and reluctant partner-in-crime is Farley Granger, who is constantly on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Unquestionably the highlight of the cast is James Stewart as their former professor, Rupert, who states that murder is not a crime, but a priveledge. This is one of my favorite performances from Mr. Stewart. He plays his part with a devilishly easygoing, intelligent suavete and far more reserve than you would usually see from Stewart.

Considering the movie was released in 1948, the fact that the script retains the implied homosexuality between the murderers from Hamilton's play is a bold move. The script does omit the knowledge that Stewart's character had an affair with one of his old students, a good move because if it had been kept the audience would feel considerably less sympathy for Stewart than they do at the film's end. Interestingly, Hitchcock chose to open the film with the murder, leaving no doubt that a murder was in fact committed, while in Hamilton's play we don't know whether the duo actually went through with the murder or not until its end. It seems uncharacteristic of Hitchcock that he should decide against so artful and suspenseful a technique as leaving his audience questioning whether the murder is real or not.

Don't begin your exploration of Hitchcock's works with this movie. Opt instead for something like "Vertigo" or even Hitchcock's previous masterpiece, "Notorious," which is cleverly referenced at one point in the film when Stewart's character names the one film he enjoyed, "that new thing with Ingrid Bergman." One of the 5 "lost Hitchcocks," "Rope" is not one of the Master's masterpieces, but it is one of his finer and most interesting works. The "real time" technique is fascinating, the story is unmistakably Hitchcockian, and Stewart's performance is among his best, and that alone is enough to make the film worth a watch.

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More Rope (1948 movie) reviews
review by . June 14, 2012
Just okay; not great
Two pompous young men (John Dall, Farley Granger) commit a murder just for the thrill and satisfaction of pulling off the perfect crime. They hide the body in their living room and then host a cocktail party as if nothing happened. But one guest, their old prep school house master (James Stewart), is suspicious right from the start.      Hitchcock wanted to experiment in filming longer takes, up to ten minutes long, rather than the typical take of just a few seconds. It makes …
Quick Tip by . August 24, 2010
A great performance by James Stewart and an interesting look at how Hitchcock's techniques developed with the use of the camera and transitions.
review by . December 09, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
"Rope"    A Forgotten Hitchcock Classic    Amos Lassen    "Rope" is Alfred Hitchcock's first color film and it is a compelling view. What Hitchcock does here and what he has always done so well is to show the selfishness and superficiality of America's culture by giving us two guys who think of themselves as intellectuals. Brandon and Phillip twist Nietzche's words to cover up a crime and then use a party as a fa├žade. The film looks beneath …
review by . December 14, 2008
Rope 1
Though "Rope" is by no means one of Alfred Hitchcock's best known films it ranks as one of my favorites.  The story revolves around two college students who decide to commit murder "just for the fun of it".  To make things even more interesting the boys decide to have a party with their deceased friends corpse hidden right in the the room!   They are so bold as to invite the victims fiancee and parents as well!   It looks for all the world …
review by . December 02, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: It is short      Cons: Even the best make mistakes, Rope counts for about a dozen      The Bottom Line: There is not one single thing I can think of to inspire anyone to watch this failed experiment.       Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot.   Rope is famous for its one continuous “take.”  Um . . . to quote a professor of mine who loved movies but didn’t …
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Tom Benton ()
Ranked #352
Aspiring high school English teacher with dreams of filmmaking and a strong taste for music.
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About this movie

Wiki

Rope is a 1948 film written by Hume Cronyn and Arthur Laurents, produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and starring James Stewart, John Dall and Farley Granger. It is the first of Hitchcock's Technicolor films, and is notable for taking place in real time and being edited so as to appear as a single continuous shot.

The film was based on the play Rope by Patrick Hamilton, which was said to be inspired by the real-life murder of fourteen-year-old Bobby Franks in 1924 by two University of Chicago students named Leopold and Loeb who simply wanted to show that they could commit a murder and get away with it. However, they were both arrested and received long prison terms.

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Details

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Genre: Drama
Release Date: August 28, 1948
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Runtime: 1hr 25min
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