Rope (1948)


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Rating: The Good – 90.3
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Duration: 80 mins
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: James Stewart, John Dall, Farley Granger

Alfred Hitchcock’s cerebral thriller is strangely compelling given its disturbing subject matter. Loosely based on the real life Leopold and Loeb case, it  begins with the murder of a young man by two killers who proceed to throw a dinner party immediately afterwards to which, amongst others, the victim’s parents and girlfriend have been invited. John Dall and Farley Granger play the two murderers who are eager to put into practice Nietzsche’s ideas that murder is justified when the victim is an intellectual inferior. The action is shot in real time and involves ten long cuts (with a few sneaky ones hidden in between) disguised as one and the major effect the then revolutionary technique had (along with the off-screen/off-mike conversations) was to immerse the audience in the apartment’s atmosphere as the two men’s intelligent former mentor (James Stewart) picks his way through the clues. Dall gives a chilling portrayal of a sociopath with delusions of grandeur as his every word and in particular every gesture reflects his inner cold blooded precision. Granger provides a decent foil to that cold calmness while Stewart is in his typical scene-stealing mood. Rope concludes in a highly satisfying fashion given that the action never leaves the apartment. Moreover, the sense of time passed and internal disquiet you’re left with is testament to the genius of Hitchcock’s unparalleled ability to manipulate our perceptions and generate that darkest of tension.

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3 thoughts on “Rope (1948)”

  1. Rope is a talky film that takes place in one room and yet, you can’t take your eyes off the characters as they dance around each other. I’ve seen it a dozen times at least and I know I’ll watch it a dozen more. A terrific film!

    1. Sums up my feelings exactly – it’s hypnotic the way Hitch breezes characters in and out of scenes while maintaining a steely focus on the two killers and their constantly fluctuating dynamic.

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