Alfred Hitchcock directs James Stewart, John Dall and Farley Granger in this one set, “one-shot” thriller where two young men murder a friend and then host a party around his hidden body.
I think the first few times I watched Rope I always approached it only with regards to its infamous gimmick. Catching all those sly hidden and not so hidden secret edits. A camera zooming into the back of someone’s suit fabric and back out again, a door frame used as a wipe. The more impressive, but equally as obvious, trickery of the model cityscape we view from the apartment set’s window. One of those early SFX whose fakery is part of its charm. But this watch Rope really clicked with me. I didn’t care so much about Hitch keeping all his little technical plates spinning, or the tipsy turvy brinkmanship of the murderers almost being caught out and then inviting further chances of discovery. No – this time it was James Stewart who elevated it for me. His character and performance rise this up from dated curio to bonafide classic. His professor is positioned as the unofficial detective of the piece. The one who will solve the boys’ sin. But really he is a man growing to realise that he has fostered in two young men an arrogance and an evil. How much of their sociopathic pathology has arisen from his philosophy discussions and literary contrarianism when they were unformed adolescents? He’s about to find out, one devastating clue at a time. Marvellous stuff.
Perfect Double Bill: Lifeboat (1944)
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