There is not one single thing I can think of to inspire anyone to watch this failed experiment.
Rope is famous for its one continuous “take.” Um . . . to quote a professor of mine who loved movies but didn’t care for plays: a play is just a movie without camera angles. Rope is a dull play with camera angles that fails as a film and a play (unless play means that a director decided to use a little trick to prove something).
Brandon Shaw (John Dall) and Phillip Morgan (Farley Granger) strangle David, a friend of theirs who Brandon considers to be inferior—despite being a blue blood. As sort of a coup de gras Brandon plan a dinner party to occur the evening of the murder. At the party are David’s girlfriend, father, and aunt. In a further attempt to show his superiority, Brandon invites a professor of his, Rupert Cadell (James Stewart). Mr. Cadell espoused a lukewarm version of the Nietzschean idea of the man so brilliant as to be above morals. David is sorely missed and the party breaks up pretty much over this topic. Then Rupert, who had suspected something amiss in the behavior of his former charges returns to confront the pair. The end is predictable, even still I will stop.
Somehow Netflix decided that since this is a vague Leopold and Loeb type murder story that it belonged in the gay section. Knowing the film was from the 1940s and was so classified, I thought, what the hell. I want my 80 minutes back. This isn’t any more gay than any story of two bluebloods on a night on the town with their heads held impossibly high and their chins jutting out to a point where the mandible is about to detach. Except for Mr. Stewart, that’s pretty much what the “movie” showed.
One blueblood in a smart blue suit going on and on about how good he is. The one who actually did the job, a kind of wishpish thing in a red suit, goes on and on about what a mistake. It is also cliché. Strangulation, hanging, killing, were in every other line in some sort of droll way as to cause the polite to chuckle a little—one must always be polite. To carry it over the top, Rupert starts a metronome on its ticking swing like the ticking of the tell tale heart.
Mr. Hitchcock’s oeuvre was movies; suspense was his specialty. But there are two problems here. First, Rope isn’t suspenseful. It is predictable to the chuckle. It also isn’t a movie. Here is an admired filmmaker filming a terrible play with a little suspense and adding nothing. In fact, if you pay close enough attention, there are several moments where the lips and words are not quite in sync. So this one continuous shot had some sound problems and the actors had to come back for some looping. Hummm. It would seem to me that this sort of trickery is just the sort of thing that makes an already tenuous experiment fail. To make matters worse the end is so silly I want double my time back—I want to say what it is but in case someone uses this diatribe to watch the film, I will refrain.
I’ve never been a huge Hitchcock fan in the first place—I think all of his best work occurred well before Rope (1948). For whatever reason I usually like to use composers as a comparison and Aaron Copeland comes to mind. His early work was brilliant, much of his latter work is pretty decent but doesn’t rise to the quality of what he produced early on. And in the middle, he tried some of that atonal twelve-tone crap. Rope is 80 minutes of twelve-tone crap.
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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.