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Therebisnnot much to say here you guys all know I love Hitchcok so let's get down to business.
The Main Players
James Stewart plays Rupert Cadell, a high schoo prep teacher,with a very sharp mind.
James Stewart was not only an incredible war veteran but also had two sands to his film career. There was the main stream and then westerns. But more importantly who could forget THAT voice
Other films starring Stewart I would recommend:
Anatomy of a Murder
Farley Granger plays Philip Morgan a very jumpy party host.
I first came across Granger in Strangers on a Train another piece of Hitchcock's work. Throughout his career his sexuality was openly speculated and it is believed some extent this is what caused his career so be scatty. After these two films he was to in an awful lot more.
Other films starring Granger I would recommend:
Strangers on a Train
John Dall play Brandon Shaw another host at the party who seems to have a penchant for meddling.i had not seen him in a single film before this nor one after but I did check him out believe he was in the classic Soarticus.
Unfortunately I have no recommendations here.
Naturally there are other actors and characters within the film but I find it relevant to discuss only the main ones.
This is based I the screenplay rope but I have also read somewhere else that it is based on the Leoplad Leob Murder case ( a real one, that I have yet to read up on yet).
There are two college friends that in the name of 'intellectual pursuit' decide to kill a college friends and then have all of ha close friends and family to a party righ after to see if they can pull it off.
Philip one of the murderers cannot really believe what he has done and is instantly scared an jumpy and throughout the film it is very obvious something is wrong, Brandon his partner in crime seems to go the other way, it is as if he is taunting the guest the entire evening.
Rupert Cadell the boys high school prep teacher realises something is wrong and soon, once everyone else is gone the boys about it.
This is quite a short and snappy film at only 1hr 17 minutes long but it is truly outstanding and the acting from al parties involved is sublime. Particularly Dall, which is a shame as he cannot be seen in many other roles.
James Stewart plays the astute professor amazingly well as any other role an Granger actually makes you feel sorry for him.
I forgot that not just Brandon was a murderer but Philip was too. I definitely felt as if Philip has been manipulated into this murder although this is clearly stated not to be the case.
This is by far one of the best films I have ever seen putting both Hitchcock and Stewart into my favourites list!
Year - 1948
Medium - colour
Rating - PG
Director - Hithcock
Length - 77mims
This is a review of the dvd to be found in the Hitchcock Universal boxset or available seperately.
'Rope' is from 1948 and is Alfred Hitchcock's first foray into Technicolour, this is clear from the sumptous beginning shot of the street from an aerial viewpoint. In this shot Hitch delivers one of his famous walk-ons and can be made out strolling along the street. Panning upwards to a window on the top floor is the sound of a man screaming.....he is being strangled by his college friends. The whole premise of 'Rope,' which was originally a stage play by Patrick Hamilton, is that two college friends murder another purely to see if they can get away with it. One of the conspirators is clearly more calm about the crime than the other and the whole dramatic tension [or not] is based on weather their old school teacher, who was a crime buff and taught them some ideas of how to commit the 'perfect murder', will rumble their plot at a party they host for people associated with the dead man. The idea is to prove their intellectual superiority by hiding the dead man's body in the apartment and have the diners come along and be unaware of what is happening.
'Rope' stars James Stewart in the important role of Rupert Cadell, the student's former prep school housemaster who filled their minds with this nonsense about the 'art of murder'. Also starring are Farley Granger as nervous conspirator Phillip Morgan and John Dall as the slimey and confident Brandon Shaw who is the real mastermind behind the whole grisly affair. I can imagine in 1948 people thinking this was in quite poor taste, but by today's standards it is all rather tame. The film is very short at only 75 mins duration and is famous for being shot in 'real time' with Hitchcock panning into the back of one of the characters and panning back out again into the room to hide the camera cuts. At that time a film reel would only last 10 minutes so Hitchcock kept the whole film moving with no 'traditional' cuts though it is obvious where the cuts are by the zooming in of the camera.
It is fair to say that 'Rope' is far more interesting technically than it is plot wise. For what it was in 1948 this was a highly experimental film from a mainstream director trying out something new with a huge budget at his disposal. The Technicolour cameras were enormous and were moved on rollers, the entire film is shot on a single sound stage which is carefully set-up to accomodate the camera movements. If you've seen the Lars Von Trier film 'Dogville' you'll know the kind of idea in place.
James Stewart seems miscast here, not handling the material very well, as though he was uncomfortable with the whole premise. The 'tension' is massively dissipated by the fact that anyone could work out what was going on here, Stewart tries to look all knowingly into the distance as Morgan drops one of his infinite clangers but where's the tension when the whole thing is obvious?. If you think of a TV show like 'Columbo' although the audience knew who had commited the murder, the script was well written enough that you could marvel at how Columbo figured it out. Here they might as well walk around with signs saying 'we murdered someone', perhaps this is just a modern reaction of someone used to more sophisticated murder set ups and resolutions, but it seems pretty poor.
Despite this the film has some plusses, John Dall is excellent as the confident and evil Brandon Shaw the picture of stupid arrogance. Farley Granger does well in a difficult role as a whingy co-conspirator who can't help giving clues away every five seconds. Another issue for me was how did Shaw manage to convince Morgan to go through with this in the first place??, he's so reticent and regretful about the whole thing. I was impressed by the 'real time' element and the decision to effectively just film a play....that said this would probably be more compelling as a play than a film, a revival started in the West End in 2009 though I believe that has finished it's run.
'Rope' is certainly worth watching and won't take up much of your time, if it wasn't for the technical innovations that are on display I would give it less marks but as a technical exercise it is interesting.
The dvd contains another 30 minute documentary [as with the other Hitchcock dvds] in which people still alive who were associated with the film give us some recollections. Hume Cronyn, who starred in 'Shadow Of A Doubt' wrote a treatment of Hamilton's play which was fleshed out by Arthur Laurents and their contributions are interesting as they point out that Hitchcock was clearly much more interested in the technical flash of the new Technicolour cameras than he was in the story. It is also bizarre to see Farley Granger talking about his involvement, someone who I wouldn't have thought was still alive!. Aside from this there are some production notes and subtitle/language options, so a decent dvd package. The film looks wonderful in crisp Technicolour and the sound is fine as well.
Can be bought as part of the Hitchcock Universal boxset or from Amazon UK for around £5. I would rent or wait for a TV screening unless you are a big Hitchcock fan.
Rope is the second film I watched from my new Hitchcock box set. I had seen it before, but wanted to watch it again as I really enjoyed it the first time round.
Rope, released in 1948, is based on Patrick Hamilton's 1929 play, adapted by Hugh Cronyn and Arthur Laurents and starring James Stewart, John Dall and Farley Granger. It is a murder mystery with a difference - the difference being you see the two main characters committing the murder right at the start of the film, and the tension comes from whether they will get away with it or not. Unusual, but it works, although it was not well recieved by the critics on release. Rope was the first of Hitchcock's films to be filmed in Technicolour.
Two rich intelligent young men, Brandon Shaw (Dall) and Philip Morgan (Granger) decide to commit 'the perfect murder', believing that taking someone's life could be considered an art form or an intellectual exercise. They kill a former classmate, David Kentley, in their luxury apartment before hiding his body in a chest in the front room and proceeding to host a party for David's best friend, fiance, father and aunt as well as their former teacher, Rupert Cadell (Stewart).
The film flows in real time and stays true to its theatrical roots, filmed soley in Shaw and Morgan's apartment (except for the opening scene) which gives it a tense claustrophobic feel. It is filmed in such a way as to seem like one continous shot: the first time I watched it I was convinced it WAS one continuous shot. Later I found out that it wasn't actually possible at the time for a film reel to hold more than 10 minutes' worth of film at once, and there are in fact a number of cuts in the film, hidden as the camera pans close to a character's back or a piece of furniture. I did notice the cuts the second time around, but was impressed at how cleverly they were done.
The acting in the film was very good, especially from the two leads. They have very contrasting characters: Brandon is the more arrogant of the two and is thrilled to bits at the apparent success of his crime. I found him repellent and at the same time oddly fascinating. Philip on the other hand was far more scared and nervous. I actually felt pity for him as I got the impression that he was in over his head and deep down understood the enormity of what he had done. I also thought James Stewart gave a good performance, albeit in a very different role than usual. His character was sharper and more sarcastic than those he usually plays. According to the DVD documentary, he was considered by many not to be the ideal choice for the role as he was apparently too 'wholesome' to convey the homosexual aspect of the film (the unspoken idea is that Brandon and Philip are in a relationship and one of them once had a relationship with Cadell). It's true that, while I picked up on hints of a relationship between the two leads, I didn't detect anything of the sort with Stewart's character. Having said that, I didn't see that as a problem or flaw while watching the film - it was only while watching the documentary that I realised an intended effect hadn't been achieved.
There aren't many supporting characters in this film, but they do give good performances. Janet (Joan Chandler) and Kenneth (Douglas Dick) are involved in a brief subplot: the two were once together but now Janet is with his best friend - David - and they gradually overcome their arkwardness. Sir Cedric Hardwicke and Constance Collier as David's father Henry and aunt Mrs Anita Atwater bring humour and energy to their roles and the film as a whole.
The film raises interesting questions about philosophy, most particularly the difference between theory and action: apparent in the scene where the party guests discuss the concept of random murder 'to end poverty and for good theatre tickets' while the body of their friend lies not far from where they are sitting. The motive for the murder - the idea that a Nietzschean 'superman' who is above good and evil and ordinary moral laws can kill for the the sake of it - reminds me of Dostoyevsky's novel Crime and Punishment, in which the hero Raskolnikov also reasons that it is acceptable for certain people to kill others who are considered worthless - although the two stories couldn't pan out more differently. Rope is in fact based on a real life murder case, in which Leopold and Loeb, two rich intelligent young men, killed a fourteen year old boy for similar reasons. I found the film a lot more disturbing on a second viewing, perhaps because I hadn't known about the real life inspiration the first time around. The first scene is perhaps the worst - watching the two men cold-bloodedly strangle their young friend is really awful. In fact, it's interesting to watch the documentary and discover that this scene wasn't supposed to exist - the idea was that you would watch the film not knowing whether David's body was in the chest or not. It was widely felt that the film was robbed of much of its tension this way. I'm not sure if I agree with this - I find this film incredibly tense simply because you as the audience know what the characters don't, and you are waiting to see if they will find out.
There is very effective use of props made in the film, from the rope used to strangle David to the cigarette case used by Cadell, and the telltale hat. The skyline visible from the apartment window is very impressive as it changes from day to night. As with all Hitchcock films the camera angles and tricks are wonderful. I especially love the scene with the swinging kitchen door as Brandon puts the rope away in a drawer.
My DVD contains the original trailer for the film, the first part of which is very original and clever, although it turns a bit silly later on. I'll never get over how much of the plot old trailers give away. I wonder that anyone went to the cinema at all! There is also a trailer compilation of all the James Stewart/Hitchcock films, narrated by Jimmy himself. In addition there is the documentary mentioned above, which is definitely worth a watch. It describes among other things how the walls needed to be on wheels so they could be pulled away to let the cameras in and pushed back when needed, and how the actors had to constantly walk over cables trailing on the floor of the small set!
Overall I would definitely recommend Rope. When I was going through my initial Hitchcock phase of renting anything and everything directed by him, this was one of the films that really stood out. It's very different, full of tension, and is again one of those films that you can watch over and over. The film is rated PG, but I'm not sure I fully agree with this classification. Although there is no swearing or sex, and the strangulation is bloodless, it is done in such a way as to be quite chilling, and the film as a whole is quite disturbing even to me. I can think of gorier, but shallower films I'd prefer children to see! If you have a particularly sensitive child I'd perhaps suggest watching it first to judge for yourself.
As well as being part of the box set, Rope is also available from Amazon as a standalone DVD for just over £4.
In 1948, Hitchcock really tried to up his standing in the USA. He already had a huge fan base in Britain, and though he had made some classy thrillers before 1948, including Shadow of a Doubt, Rebecca and Notorious, he had not had a massive enough success in America to make him a household name.
Rope was his first major attempt at really cracking an American audience, and though not his best film, it was a superb attempt and also a huge milestone in terms of film. It was one of his earliest colour films, and was the first film to use James Stewart, who he would use three more times in the future in some of his best films. Rope is actually hugely underrated in my opinion.
Set entirely in an apartment and based upon a true story, this tells the story of two deranged students, Brandon Shaw and Phillip Morgan (John Dall and Farley Granger), who muder a former classmate and hide his body in a chest in the apartment on the same evening that they are holding a party. They are doing it as a social experiment, so they claim.
However, one of their guests is former teacher Rupert Cadell (James Stewart), who is very clever and suspects that something is terribly wrong as the evening continues. He starts to dig a little deeper and starts to pressurize the two men, leading to a fabulous climax.
This was almost the experimental version of Rear Window in many ways. Hitchcock based it all in the apartment, using one camera to move between rooms, giving a very claustrophobic atmosphere and really racking up the tension. It is a little dated in terms of colour, as colour wasn't used all that much and was very much experimental.
But I do think this is underrated. The acting really is superb from everyone, and the tension is unrelenting. The critics at the time didn't appreciate the genius and simplicity of the plot, that is based on a true story, and even now some will say that the plot is thin. But I think it's another classic Hitchcock, and makes for some fantastic watching with a lot of tension.
I have always been a fan of Alfred Hitchcock movies over the years and think he is a legendary director. He became famous for making many great and suspenseful movies. I have seen a fair few and just recently watched Rope on DVD as this one isn't perhaps as famous as others.
The story revolves around two friends, Brandon Shaw and Phillip Morgan. They strangled another friend called David who they believed was inferior. They placed his dead body in a chest as they couldn't get rid of the body until night as it was daylight outside. Their reasons for murder did not seem particularly justifiable. They always thought that murder was a privilege of the superior and a crime for anyone else who committed it. So in their eyes they believe they have committed the perfect murder!
They both see the murder very differently after the event. Phillip is very remorseful about what they have done while Brandon doesn't appear to be affected by it at all. For Phillip he starts to lose it when he discovers that Brandon has organised a dinner party for that night despite all that has gone on before. He has invited David's parents, his girlfriend and other friends of their victim. To make things much worse he decides to serve the food from the very chest where they are hiding his body. As the night progresses, Phillip starts to get more anxious, leading their guests to become suspicious about what is going on.
I found the way that Alfred Hitchcock chose to direct and make this movie interesting as alot of these types of films don't show the murder straight off but build up the story first to build up the suspense. I think it worked well this way round though anyway and it just meant we get the true story after the event.
In comparison to other Hitchcock movies this one was not as suspenseful as others which in some ways is a bit disappointing in my opinion anyway, but it's still not a bad film. For a movie that is set pretty much inside the apartment for most of it, it is pretty interesting and keeps you watching.
This is not the great Hitchcock movie that I've seen but it's still not bad and he is certainly original in his use of characters and how they act around each other. It's worth seeing as a Hitchcock fan.
I first saw this a few years ago and liked it so much that I bought it to watch again with my boyfriend, who liked it as much as I did. It was Hitchcock's first 'Technicolor' film so I thought it would be an interesting one to try.
This film must be very unusual, in that the very first image that comes onto the screen is that of a man in a New York apartment being strangled by two other men with a rope. It turns out that the murderers, Brandon and Phillip, are friends (for 'friends' read 'lovers', though this is never made explicit), and that David, whose life they have brutally ended, was a friend of theirs. It soon becomes apparent that they believe themselves to be intellectuals, and therefore superior beings, who consequently have the right to decide whether 'inferior' beings live or die.
Brandon is by far the cockier and more confident, whereas Phillip seems to be more concerned about the lack of morality in what they have done. Soon after they have committed the murder they shut the body in the chest in their living room and start preparing the apartment for the imminent arrival of their guests- yes; they have organised a party to take place shortly after committing their crime, in order to prove to themselves how easy it is to get away with it, and presumably to give themselves an adrenaline rush (though the whole idea is quite clearly Brandon's). So confident is Brandon that the guests will not suspect a thing that they move all the food and candles from the dining room and lay them on top of the chest.
The guests begin to arrive one by one- David's parents and fiancée among them, though the two men are most concerned by the last guest to arrive- their former housemaster, Rupert (played by James Stewart)- not only is he an intellectual, but he also shares their theories on life and death. Nevertheless, Brandon is convinced that even if Rupert discovers the body, he will be the most likely to understand why they did it.
Once the guests have all arrived, the tension begins to mount, and the emotional state of the two men changes as time goes on.
The way in which this film has been shot gives it a very similar feel to a play, and in fact it was a play originally, which was adapted for the big screen- though it would seem that not a lot has been changed! Some of the camera angles are quite interesting- the most prominent example being the moment when the guests are having a conversation off screen, and all that is on camera is the housekeeper walking to and from the kitchen, and the chest.
The film, most impressively, was shot using long takes, of up to ten minutes at a time, to give the impression of one continuous scene. Hitchcock managed to cut most of the time by zooming in on somebody's back, or a piece of furniture, to mask the switch. All camera angles had been decided beforehand.
The fact that the entire film is set mostly within one single room, and that this does not pose a problem at all in terms of enjoyment and interest, shows how clever the plot and dialogue must be. Having said this, care has obviously been taken to make sure that the one room has enough going on within it to build up the atmosphere e.g. one wall is entirely made of glass looking out over New York City, and as the party progresses, the sky gradually gets darker. As the film reaches a climax, darkness falls and there are neon lights flashing on and off just outside, a piano is being played in the corner of the room and a metronome has been set ticking, which speeds up as the tension increases.
I was also impressed with the acting- James Stewart (of 'It's A Wonderful Life' fame) was clearly the big selling-point of the film, since his name is the most clearly displayed as the film begins, but actually John Dall and Farley Granger, who played Brandon and Philip, were equally good, if not better. The supporting actors were not stretched in terms of dialogue, but they certainly gave above-average performances even so.
I also think the film is a perfect length- I hate films that are much longer than they need to be, and by the end of this I was left feeling that I would have liked to have seen more, if anything. It doesn't seem to have dated much either, considering it's a 1948 production. The themes are still relevant today, and the style of direction is still unique enough to be impressive despite today's superior technology.
I generally like to give a balanced view of a film, and try to write about the drawbacks as well as the advantages, but I'm honestly having a very hard time thinking of any flaws. I suppose that if you like typical modern Hollywood blockbusters then this may not be the film for you, and it's certainly not a typical Hitchcock, in the style of 'Psycho' or 'The Birds.' I would class it as a thriller more than a horror. However, I actually think this is one of Hitchcock's best, if not the absolute best.
The plot of this 1948 Hitchcock film, as well as the cinematography, are rather basic and simplisitic in their presentation, which is possibly what makes this excellent dramatic thriller take a bit of a back seat where the director is concerned. Most would associate him with Psycho, or The Birds, or North By Northwest, but this is a fabulous exploration of the human psyche, with the subtleties being the clinches in the brilliance that he so often showed with his films.
Two friends, Brandon Shaw (John Dall) and Phillip Morgan (Farley Granger) kill their inferior classmate from school, hide him in a trunk in the middle of their flat, and then invite their mutual friends and their victim's family round for a party as a test to their perfect crime. It is quite simply the plot, in a nutshell, and it is no more complicated than that. Shot entirely in a studio, with the exception of the opening scene, Hitchcock used a series of rolling camera shots to film the entire thing, with the shortest section of film being just over 4 minutes, and the longest around the 10 minute mark. This in itself is a testament to the acting skills on show, as it is the subtleties I mentioned before.
The acting is, on the whole, very good. There are a few moments where it seems very much like a film, and not at all like real life, very much like people delivering lines. This, in a way, makes things seems more like a play, as does the studio feel to the film. Our two murderers work excellently together, with Brandon being the dominant Alpha male and Phillip certainly the weaker minded of the two, requiring cajoling and persuasion. There are definite sexual hints between the two of them, and Hitchcock ensures that the two of them act as if they are in a relationship. There is nothing physical or verbal to actually say they care for each other, apart from one bit where Brandon places his hand on Phillip's arm, to calm him down. However, this contact is broken immediately. This is one subtle element that makes the tension that much more noticeable.
The appearance of James Stewart as one of their old school masters provides the extreme tension for the film, for they are sure that if anyone will suss them out, it will be him. I have never seen Stewart in a film before, and I wasn't too impressed by his entrance. However, his screen presence soon becomes apparent, as doing his timing and acting ability. A very good performance. The other players in the film do contribute in doses, mainly with the way Hitchcock examines social interaction, attraction and public perception, but it is the 3 main characters I have mentioned that the film centres around.
Yet the awards for the acting stakes must go to our two leads. Stewart's name may be the one people associate more with the film, but only as a result of his status. The other two are the real stars of the show, and I watched entranced as their emotional states changed throughout the film, all the while Phillip slowly but surely losing the plot, and becoming more nervous about being found out. Brandon attempts to maintain a nonchalant air about him, and for the most part does so, letting a few slips in, and it is how the plot develops quite rapidly, and how nervous you become as a viewer every time anyone goes near the trunk, that makes things so clever.
Hitchcock really is a master of this sort of film. It is the subtleties, the little gestures, the camera shots and zooms, and the glances and characteristics of the players involved, that make the film. He shows us that you don't need huge budgets and glossy special effects to make a riveting film. He did it here using long camera shots, a few actors and a constantly changing background. The scenes through the flat window is one of outside, with city buildings and clouds. That this was a studio filmed piece of art shows how intricate his detail was, that throughout the party, the outside view slowly darkens, progressing with time as it would were it real outside. Fabulous detail.
I caught this on TV last night. I hadn't really heard of it before, and wasn't even really too fussed when I first started watching. But the premise of the film made me curious as to how it was going to work, and once I started watching, I couldn't stop. It was mesmerising. I have seen three or four Hitchcock films, and each one has impressed me greatly. I shall certainly be seeking out more. If you want to buy Rope on DVD, it is available from amazon.co.uk for £4.92, and I would say that this masterclass of presenting a dramatic thriller is well worth having. Recommended!
note: also appears in part on Flixster and The Student Room
Although rarely mentioned by casual Hitchcock fans, Rope is in fact one of his very best films - it does, in my opinion, stand alongside the likes of Vertigo, Psycho and North by Northwest as his most accomplished works - it is a superb marriage of style and substance that has been exceedingly influential as a stylistic experiment.
The film opens as a man is strangled to death with a piece of rope, whilst his friend helps place the body into a large trunk. There is a very real tension between the two (which has been analysed over the years as sexual in nature) - a psychological one in which one of the men is very off-balance, giving a seemingly insane reason for the murder, whilst his friendl is panicking and wondering what to do. What's more? They invite the dead man's family over to eat as their son sits mere feet away from them, dead - they use this encounter to test the skill of their crime, and whether they have sufficiently dealt with procedings aptly.
This is an incredibly suspenseful film due to the fact that, of course, the trunk could be opened by absolutely anyone at the party, and every time someone goes near it, your palms will get that little bit sweatier, and things just ratchet up a little more. If this isn't enough, we have to deal with the toils between the two men themselves, a friendship which has now become anything but stable.
As a stylistic exercise, this is a wonder - Hitchcock filmed five scenes and has "stitched" them together almost seemlessly with tracking shots which he has edited into one another, giving the impression that everything has occured at once.
One of Hitchcock's best films, and regrettably, one of his least well known. Hitchcock's experimentation with single-take scenes is ground-breaking for its time, and the concept of the film itself is likewise brilliant.
In 1924 the trial of two Jewish teenagers, Nathan Freudenthal Leopold, Jr. and Richard Albert Loeb created a media sensation of America. Both were highly intelligent individuals and believed themselves to be Nietzschean supermen capable of committing a "perfect crime". Leopold & Loeb had spent a year planning their perfect crime which involved kidnapping, murder & a ransom demand. The chosen "victim" was 14 year old Bobby Franks, a neighbour of Leob's.
British playwright Patrick Hamilton later used these events as a basis for his play "Rope" which was first performed in 1929, some five years after Bobby Franks had been murdered. This play differs somewhat from Hitchcock's film version, in terms of characters & setting although the "intellectual superiority" element is present in both.
Hamilton's play was set in London in the 1920s & concerned two students, Wyndham Brandon and Charles Granillo murdering fellow student Ronald Kentley. In the play Rupert Cadell is 29 & he is a teacher of Brandon & Granillo. In contrast Hitchcock's film version moved the story to 1940s New York, Wyndham Brandon becomes Brandon Shaw, Charles Granillo becomes Philip Morgan, Ronald Kentley's christian name is changed to David, Rupert Cadell becomes much older & is a previous housemaster of the boys rather than a current teacher & new characters were created in the forms of Mrs. Wilson & Janet Walker.
Brandon Shaw (John Dall)
Philip Morgan (Farley Granger)
David Kentley (Dick Hogan)
Mrs. Wilson (Edith Evanson)
Kenneth Lawrence (Douglas Dick)
Janet Walker (Joan Chandler)
Mr. Kentley (Sir Cedric Hardwicke)
Mrs. Atwater (Constance Collier)
Rupert Cadell (James Stewart)
The film opens with Brandon & Philip strangling fellow student David Kentley. The deed done they place his body in a chest. Then they have to hurry ~ there's a small party that night & Mrs. Wilson, their cleaner cum maid cum housekeeper may be back at any moment. Philip's nervous. What if somebody should find the body in the chest? They won't get a chance to move it until after the party. They move through to the dining room where we see a table laid out ready for the party. Brandon decides it would be a good idea to move the plates & food on top of the chest ~ that way David's family & friends who have been invited to the party will be eating from a sacrificial altar! All Philip can think of is that at least with the food on top of the chest it will prevent anyone from trying to open it. The books that were in the chest can be moved into the dining room for Mr. Kentley to look at when he arrives.
Mrs Wilson's back. She's not pleased about "her table" being moved but fusses around the boys getting everything ready for the party. Fellow student Kenneth Lawrence is the first to arrive closely followed by David fiance Janet Walker. We discover that Janet & Kenneth dated before she & David got together. Brandon makes a crack about David being richer than Kenneth which obviously doesn't go down too well with Janet.
Next to arrive are Mr. Kentley, David's father & his sister in law Mrs. Atwater. Mr Kentley explains that his wife is unwell & that he's brought David's aunt along instead. The final guest is Rupert Cadell, former housemaster to Brandon, Philip, David & Kenneth whose theories about superior humans have influenced Brandon heavily. As the party progresses things become more & more tense. Brandon's trying to manipulate events for his own purporses. Philip's stressed out by everything & tries to take refuge in his piano playing. Everyone's worried and/or concerned that David hasn't shown up for the party. Will anyone discover that they've been eating food from the chest that contains his body, or will our two killers get away with it......?
Rope was Hitchcock first film as a producer/director as well as the first made by his own company Transatlantic Pictures. It was also the first time he'd made a film in colour. The action (aside from the opening shot) all takes place in Brandon & Philip's apartment which is similar in essence to the way that Rear Window was shot. Here however Hitchcock had opted to use what is commonly referred to as a "ten minute take", which consisted of long uninterrupted scenes with the camera following the characters around the apartment as they move between the sitting room, the dining room & the kitchen. The film consists of 10 shots varying in length between 4 minutes 37 seconds & 10 minutes 6 seconds with the camera usually fading to black on an object or a characters back when the scene comes to an end. This almost makes the viewer fell as if they're watching a stage play as the technique allows the actors to give a 'performance' rather than resorting to the myriad of edits that seems to be the case with modern films nowadays.
The apartment set is simple but looks well furnished & special mention must go to the model of the New York skyline which can be seen outside of the windows. Throughout the movie the sun sets, the sky gets darker, lights come on, the clouds move & change shape etc, making you forget that the entire film was shot inside a film studio.
Arthur Laurents, who is credited with doing the screenplay for the film tells us on the "Making Of" extra that he thinks that showing the murder at the start of the film was a mistake as it robbed the piece of some of the tension. I would agree with this to some degree as the tension in the film hinges on whether David Kentley's body will be found & whether or not Brandon & Philip will get away with the murder.
Performances in the film are generally good with Constance Collier & Edith Evanson providing the majority of the comedy moments in their respective roles of Mrs. Atwater & Mrs. Wilson. The majority of the tension derives from the interplay between the Brandon, Philip & Rupert Cadell with John Dall & Farley Granger putting in good solid performances. Dall captures Brandon's changing levels of excitement well with his stammering as he answers Cadell's questions. His constant pushing of things eg: moving the food etc from the dining room to the chest, hinting to Kenneth that he might have a chance with Janet, telling everyone a story about Philip strangling a chicken add an extra level of tension. He's almost like a kid poking at a wasps net with a stick. Will the nest erupt in fury & sting him?
In contrast, Farley Granger puts in a quieter performance. We can see from the start of the film that even though he's the one that's strangled David he's not coping with things very well at all. He's worried that the body will get discovered & is more concerned about appearances, constantly on edge, worried what the rest of the people at the party are thinking. As a viewer you're left wondering if he'll crack before Brandon pushes things too far, or whether they'll actually make it to the end of the film without being discovered. There's a great little sequence as Mrs. Wilson starts to clear the plates & leftover food from the chest containing David's body as the rest of the guests chatter away. Then she starts to bring back the books in & lifts the lid.......
Arthur Laurents comments in the "Making Of" extra that Brandon & Philip were meant to be gay in his screenplay & that Rupert Cadell was meant to have had a relationship with one of them although he qualifies this by commenting that whilst James Stewart was very good as the "detective" the sexual angle of his relationship with oen of the boys is missing from the film. Personally, I'd disagree with some of that. I feel James Stewart was miscast as Cadell &, for me, that character is the weak post of the film. He seems less believeable than the other characters, most of whom have smaller roles than he does.
The gay element in the film is perhaps fudged somewhat. Whilst there are very strong hints that our two killers are in a relationship together nothing is ever explicitly stated. Brandon & Philip have obviously been friends a long time. Philip mentions "that first day at prep school" so they've known each other since boyhood. Both of them have keys to the apartment in which the murder takes place (Philip comments that he's given his keys to Mrs. Wilson) & there's a line in which Philip says to Brandon "part of your charm I suppose". Hardly a comment that one heterosexual male would make to another. Brandon refers to him & Philip as "us" on a number of occasions which also adds weight to the argument that he & Philip are a couple. Then, of course, there are the little moments when nothing is said ~ all performed without any kissing and almost no physical contact whatsoever. On the flip side of the coin Brandon comments that he dated Janet before she got together with Kenneth & then with David. We know that there are at least two bedrooms in the flat (not one as the author of Rope's Wikipedia entry claims) as Mrs. Wilson mentions the "first bedroom" to Mrs. Atwater whilst giving her directions.
The "Making Of" extra details how walls & furniture were moved by stage hands during the shooting of the film so that the camera could follow the actors & actresses around the set as the action unfolded. This necessitated the moves of the actors & actresses to be carefully choreographed but you'd never know from watching the film that parts of the set were being moved or that the actors & actresses were having to step over cables etc to get from one position to another for the necessary shots.
Hitchcock called Rope a failed experiment & whilst this isn't the film for you if you're looking for something fast paced & filled with action it's nevertheless filled with the director's own inimitable style. The use of the long takes allows the actors & actresses to deliver performances in the way that the majority of modern films don't & the viewer is left feeling like a non participating voyeur present at the party. This isn't one of Hitchcock's better known films but if you're looking for something with character development, good performances & watching two characters unravel under the pressure in the aftermath of a murder then this is the film for you.
Running Time: 117 mins approx
Languages: English, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norse, Danish, Finnish
Extras: The making of "Rope" (with or without subtitles)
Trailer (with or without subtitles)
Rope (1948) was Alfred Hitcock's first film as Director and Producer and was also the first of his movies to be filmed in colour.
The film opens quite startlingly as we witness the murder of poor David by two of his fellow academics, Brandon and Phillip. After being strangled with the rope to which the title refers, David's lifeless body is unceremoniously heaved into a large wooden chest in the centre of the apartment in which the entire film unfolds. We quickly learn that the murder was committed out of a sense of intellectual privilege by the young men following conversation with a former tutor, Rupert Cadell (played convincingly, as always, by James Stewart). "Murder is the privilege of the intellectually superior". Taking this flippant statement rather too literally led to the opening scene.
To add further insult to their act the boys take delicious perversion in inviting a select crowd, including David's father, his aunt and his fiance, along with the aforementioned tutor, to the apartment that very evening for a party with a buffet served on the very chest that contains the body! How could they, the morally and intellectually elite, ever be found out for such a perfectly executed crime?...
This is yet another classic Hitchcock. A minimal set, a handful of charaters beautifully realised by a wonderful cast and a typically suspenseful story to draw you in.
What's extra-special about this particular film is that there was virtually no film editing involved. The entire movie was filmed on 10 individual tapes which each ran continuously and then were simply spliced together to form the whole reel. It was truly groundbreaking and you will observe the various shots that were used to provide continuity between the individual reels, for example by focussing in on charater's backs.
If you haven't seen this film before you're in for a complete treat. And if you have seen it before, do yourself a favour and check it out again. "Masterpiece" is a word which is often overused but Rope truly is one.
When watching the extras on Alfred Hitchcock's 'Rope' they mentioned that an undercurrent of the film was about 'It'. I thought I say 'It' as to me 'It' was obvious. The two male leads seem very friendly for flatmates and one seems particularly sensitive the other dominant. In the 40s people would go and see a film about 'It' as long as you never actually mentioned 'It'. What is 'It'? Homosexuality. It was a faux par to mention homosexuality in the 40s, but have things moved on today? Certainly in some areas of cinema; there are plenty of films starring gay characters and actors. In fact, if you are so inclined you can rent a truck full of gay porn. But are we truly open about 'It'? There is a significant proportion of the population who are gay. Within the concept of work there are certain careers that will see a disproportionate percentage of gay people joining it. The Arts is a good example, and in turn acting. So how come there are so few openly gay actors? Is it because miraculously no major Hollywood players are gay - or is 'It' still an issue? Hitchcock had a novel may of tackling this- have a film starring two gay characters and stuff the consequences. The result was 'Rope' one of Hitchcock's lowest earning films...
The scene is set early in the day. Two men are strangling another with a length of rope; they then proceed to hide the body in a trunk. These two men are Brandon and Phillip, intellectuals of sorts they consider themselves above the usual social ideas of right and wrong. As special people they should be allowed to kill who they choose. This was a philosophy taught to them by their former teacher Rupert Cadell. He has no idea what they have done, but is coming to a dinner party that day, along with many others. With a body hidden in a trunk the dinner party must go on. Will the sensitive Phillip crack under the pressure, or will the observant Cadell notice anything wrong?
For me 'Rope' was an excellent example of a crime thriller. We know from the off who is to blame, but the film holds the tension by allowing you to wonder if the perpetrators will be caught. The original script did not start with murder and left you in suspense whether there a body or not. This would have added an entire extra layer onto the film. Instead the film becomes one of mystery and arrogance. John Dall as Brandon is great. He starts off a little unlikeable and cocky, but as things begin to unravel you still dislike him, but his character flaws make sense. The cat and mouse game between Brendon and Jimmy Stewart's Candell is excellent. I particularly liked the philosophical musings that they played - Candell for intellectual exercise, Brendon for real.
'Rope' failed not only because it hinted at homosexuality, but also because Stewart plays against type. Candell himself has a fondness for the two lads (is he painted as gay himself?), however, what alienated audiences more was that Candell had inspired the acts of two killers. Stewart is an actor who was pigeon holed into the everyman roles that made him one of the most popular stars around. Therefore, any film that tried to subvert this often met with derision. This is a shame as Stewart once more acts brilliantly in the film as his laid back style seems to suit Hitchcock perfectly.
Like in any Hitchcock production the art of film making seems to be as important as script or acting. Set in one expansive flat 'Rope' was used as another filmic experiment by Hitchcock. The cameras of the time were unwieldy, but Hitchcock insisted on a set that you could see through. This means that the film production was difficult, but you get some great set ups such as when one door opens in the background and you see the rope being hidden. There is no doubt that when it came to direction Hitchcock was a master. What made him stand out even further was his refusal to make the same type of look every time. 'Rope' was a one of experiment, and although it seems very stagey, it looks great.
'Rope' is a film that oozes Hitchcockian style. One of his more static films it is perhaps more a play than a film. This means that the character development is more important than anything and the script and actors assure that this works brilliantly. It's unfortunate that we know of the body immediately, but watching the Brendon and Phillip crack under the pressure works well even 60 years on. Perhaps not one of the better known films in the Hitchcock cannon, I still feel like it is one of the best.
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Starring: Jimmy Stewart
Price: Amazon uk £4.98
The DVD I saw had limited extras, but they were good nonetheless. I always enjoy watching old trailers, and 'Rope' has them. Like with any trailer I advice watching them after the film as they do give away huge chunks of the film, especially in the 40s and 50s. There is also a 30 minute documentary that is packed with interesting tit bits, without outstaying its welcome.
This film opens with two old chums murdering one of their friends. What happens next is a mixture of black comedy and taut thriller.
The two young men are devotees of a radical way of thinking, learned from their old lecturer Rupert, played by James Stewart. He has a theory that murder is an acceptable way of getting rid of people - "Think of the problems it would solve: unemployment, poverty, standing in line for theatre tickets..." His students have taken this to heart, and firmly believe that they are superior beings, quite able to make decisions about which inferior men should be allowed to live and die.
I started watching this film with a sinking sick feeling - the callous murder of a friend for the sake of excitement and the obvious regret of one of the two perpetrators.... it made extremely uncomfortable viewing. Guests arrive and unknowingly chat about the "late" David, never guessing that he is not merely delayed but lying hidden in the room. But with trademark gallows humour, Hitchcock slips in lines that made me smirk, then giggle, then laugh out loud. I'd guess that he relished the idea of prim and proper audiences being disgusted with the character's actions, and then being somewhat disgusted with themselves for seeing the funny side.
Although the main event of the film occurs in the first minute, the following 79 are nerve-janglingly tense. Hitchcock uses a seemingly continuous tracking shot, which adds to the claustrophobic atmosphere in which the suspense doesn't let up for a moment. I found the tension almost unbearable as the soundtrack combined rapid fire questioning, awkward piano music and a clicking metronome. The apartment is lit up with flashing neon from the city below, adding to the sensory overload in a deceptively simple setting.
This film combines creepy laughs with some quite serious points about morality and society. The killers in this film are of the opinion that "Good and evil, right and wrong were invented for the ordinary average man, the inferior man, because he needs them." Ever heard this in a discussion about religion?
It is said that Hitchcock films murder scenes as if they are love scenes and love scenes as if they are murders. If that is true, there is some top-notch flirting around the subject of how this murder MIGHT have been committed. As one character cries, it truly is "Cat and mouse! Cat and mouse! But who's the cat and who's the mouse?"
"Murder is an Art, and as such the privilege of committing it should be reserved for those few who are really superior individuals." In what is possibly HItchcock's most overlooked film, John Dall, (Brandon) and Farley Granger, (Phillip) play two 'friends' who go way back to prep school, living together in their fashionable downtown apartment. The arrange a rather peculiar dinner party, in which they test the arrogant teachings of their old professor, James Stewart, to their very limits. They have strangled their old school friend, David, and put him in the trunk in the living room, and excitedly await the arrival of their guests. The entire action of the film, bar the opening shot leading to the apartment window, taking place in the apartment itself. Rope was a first for Hitchcock in many ways - his first colour film, and a film he wanted to be as close to theatre as possible. No suprise then that he chose a play by Patrick Hamilton - 'Rope's End' to adapt for this film. Arthur Laurents was the screenwriter, who HItchcock came to wanting a playwright for this particular take on theatre. As Laurents says today - when the originally English play was re-written for an American setting it became overtly homosexual. The word itself 'homosexual' was referred to 'it' on the set - that the film was about 'it' and that the actors were 'it'. The film had to be based on the original real life Leopold-Loeb murder case from 1924, where two rich, gay, jewish boys in Chicago decided to murder another boy for 'the spirit of adventure', although this link was never made directly. As the film censorship laws at the time forbade showing a married couple in the same bed, understandably there is no direct disclosure of the boy's relationship. Cary Grant was originally wanted for James Stewart's teacher character, and Montgomery Clift as one of the b
oys. Both turned down the role as they didn't want to be associated with homosexual characters. The intention was that the teacher had influenced them with Nietzche's teachings of the superman, and even had an affair with one of the boys. It was a very experimental film for HItchcock, as he attempted to shoot the whole film in one continuous shot, that required the set to have fly-away walls on silent casters so that the huge technicolor camera could follow the actors into other rooms, and swirl around them to follow them back. The longest reel of film that would fit in the camera was about ten minutes so Hitchcock had to contrive objects or people to pass infront of the camera and momentarily fully block out the lens so that they could cut, reload, and start shooting again from exact same position. The model backdrop of the city, seen through the apartments large window had clouds spun from glass, and miniatures of the New York skyline lit with thousands of individual lights which slowly darkened to evening as the film progresses, but when the film was printed Hitchcock had to re-shoot the entire last section again as the colour of the evening skyline had come out in the wrong colour. There are moments of classic Hitchcock suspense as the dinner party continues on and Philip becomes more drunk as the realisation of what they have done dawns on him. Perhaps it was viewed as a failure at the time, but I find it really very engaging now. It's 'failures' or contrivances now seem to be what sets it apart and makes it a fascinating slice of film-making, let alone an intriguing, veiled glimpse of homosexuality at the time. (the story was appropriately re-told in the nineties by gay filmmaker Tom Kalin in 'Swoon'.)
I've never really been a huge fan of the work of Alfred Hitchcock. Sure I'd seen Psycho, The Birds etc... but I wasn't very familiar with his other movies. Then 'Rope' came on television, and I was instantly fascinated by the film. It starts with the echoing scream from the top of a large building in New York... but the scream is from the inside of an apartment,and is of a young man being strangled to death by...you guessed it...rope. While this has been happening, another man helps put the man's body in a long trunk, which turns out to be the dinner table. It's clear that the other man is more than a little worried by his friend's actions, as we soon realise that the man was killed because the killer felt he was "inferior to the human race", and that these people are justifyng their actions in a Hitler-like way. But the sickest turn of events is yet to come, as they invite the parents of the dead man to a dinner party - and they unknowingly eat off the table that their son is intombed in. Hitchcock, as ever, comes up with heaps of suspense in Rope. Including some moments where someone is seconds away from opening up the trunk that the body is in. One of the most interesting things about this film is that there was only about 5 'shots' or 'takes', using just ONE camera, in the entire film. It looks great on screen, as the camera follows the characters around in the up-state New York apartment. But the most chilling part comes at the end of the movie, when the former-teacher the two murderers joins the party, and realises how they have brutally twisted his own theries on life and "superiority". A classic htichcock movie that will certainly test your nerves. You'll probably find Rope in the 'classics' section of your local video store, so why not give it a try and see for yourself how enjoyable it is.
Rope is one of Hitchcock's technical masterpieces and considering it was made in 1948 it still feels slick and competent. Two young men decide to commit a murder for the fun of it and then in a twisted moment decide to invite the victim's friends and family over for dinner. James Stewart is compelling and really shows his class, and the direction by Hitchcock is so smooth that the editing appears seemless. Rope is right up there with Psycho, Rear Window and The Birds and is one of Hitchcock's best films.
An experimental film masquerading as a standard Hollywood thriller. The plot of Rope is simple and based on a successful stage play: two young men (John Dall and Farley Granger) commit murder, more or less as an intellectual exercise. They hide the body in their large apartment, then throw a dinner party. Will the body be discovered? Director Alfred Hitchcock, fascinated by the possibilities of the long-take style, decided to shoot this story as though it were happening in one long, uninterrupted shot. Since the camera can only hold one 10-minute reel at a time, Hitchcock had to be creative when it came time to change reels, disguising the switches as the camera passed behind someone's back or moved behind a lamp. In later years Hitchcock wrote off the approach as misguided, and Rope may not be one of Hitchcock's top movies, but it's still a nail-biter. They don't call him the Master of Suspense for nothing. James Stewart, as a suspicious professor, marks his first starring role for Hitchcock, a collaboration that would lead to the masterpieces Rear Window and Vertigo. --Robert Horton, Amazon.com