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Rope (1948)

DVD Cover (Universal Reissue)
Genres:
Drama, Film A Clef, Psychological Thriller, Thriller
Director:
Alfred Hitchcock Alfred Hitchcock
Starring:
John Dall John Dall
Farley Granger Farley Granger
Edith Evanson Edith Evanson
Douglas Dick Douglas Dick
Joan Chandler Joan Chandler

8.0 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: May 25, 2007
NOTE: This will be the FIRST Alfred Hitchcock film to be reviewed on this site!!!

How does that happen? How does a website primarily known for horror films not review a single Hitchcock film? I am befuddled, but am proud to remedy that problem. Now that I have become aware of this, I will do my best to review each and every Hitchcock film I have seen, which pretty much includes all of them.

The first film on the chopping block: "Rope".

First off, let me say that I am not one of those people who think that everything Hitchcock touched was gold. While Hitchcock is known primarily for his masterpieces, we must also consider that Hitchcock directed his share of duds and has just as many bad films as he does good. However, the good outweigh the bad considerably. One of his greatest cinematic efforts, "Rope", is also one of my favorite films, hands down.

Based on the play by Patrick Hamilton and adapted for the screen by Hume Cronyn, "Rope" is one of the most insightful and intriguing explorations of human nature ever captured on screen. Brandon (John Dall) and Phillip (Farley Granger) strangle a classmate that they deem 'inferior', hide his body in a trunk in their apartment, and then host a dinner party for their mutual friends to challenge the 'perfection' of their crime. How twisted is that? While their dead classmate's friends eat and drink and laugh only feet away from their friend's corpse, Brandon and Phillip slowly start to grow suspicious that their professor, Rupert Cadell (James Stewart) has caught on to them. And, in a sense, he has. The boys take for granted that, while they might be able to outwit and outsmart their friends and colleagues, their professor is a different story altogether.

This is brilliant film. Let's start with the cinematography. William V. Skall and Joseph Valentine are responsible for the camera work, which Hitchcock insisted keep the feel and tone of the play in tact. Therefore, the camera rolls until the reel runs out. Basically, the film looks like one continuous shot. Since most people know how long the average film reel was back then, we can tell when Hitchcock actually cut, but they make it less noticeable. This heightens the drama considerably throughout the film, with the camera following the characters around manically. Just watch the cinematography and direction in this film -- it's impossible not to be amazed. Truthfully, I think this is Hitchcock's best use of the camera as a tool for creating suspense and heightening the tension.

Earlier, I mentioned that this is one of the best explorations of human nature ever captured on film. I meant that. These two characters, Brandon and Phillip, are pompous, arrogant youths who decide to take a friend's life just because they can -- just to see if they can get away with it and prove their superiority. When the professor character is introduced, it throws a wrench into their plans. James Stewart is smoldering as Professor Cadell, matching them for both wit and humor. And, on that note, I should point out that "Rope" relies on comedy to make light of some very sinister and vicious circumstances. The arrogance of Brandon and Phillip is humorous as they try to convince themselves how amazing they are. The ending is also one of the best Hitchcock has ever given us, with the two cowards getting what they deserve from a very powerful Stewart.

I recommend "Rope" to anyone and everyone. It's my favorite Hitchcock film and truly one of his best. Now, I can officially say that Hitchcock has made his way onto Movies Made Me. It's about time. 10/10.
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Chad #1: Chad - added 05/25/2007, 05:05 PM
"How does a website primarily known for horror films not review a single Hitchcock film?"

Trust me, I've pondered that myself. I keep meaning to pick up the mammoth box set of his films, but I keep putting it off, and... yep, I know, I suck.
Tristan #2: Tristan - added 05/25/2007, 10:26 PM
We'll buy it at the same time love. We'll make a weekend of it.
Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg #3: Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg - added 06/30/2007, 07:36 AM
As I was watching, I felt an undertone of homosexuality between the two murderers but passed it off as me being silly. After a little reading here and there, I see I wasn't mistaken in my notion. I find that pretty interesting, given the time when this was made and that it's not of a homophobic nature.
Anyway, John Dall's character was really great with his smug charm and the sly ways he would humor himself. The continuous-shot style was also a neat quality.
8.9/10
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