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
. --Robert Horton, Amazon.com
Based on the famous Leopold and Loeb murder case (from which two other films, COMPULSION and SWOON, were also derived), ROPE both challenges and terrifies the audience. Alfred Hitchcock disdained the whodunit crime story, which he felt lacked emotional force, and ROPE shows the director's preference for letting the audience know more than the characters onscreen. The film opens as two young men (Farley Granger and John Dall) strangle a friend just to prove they're intellectually capable of committing the perfect crime. To add to the amusement, they hide the body in a trunk that will serve as the dinner table for a party honoring the deceased. The film hones in on an hour and a half of the party, with the constantly moving camera capturing the changing emotional atmosphere as the guests grow increasingly concerned about the fate of the missing boy. Rope
is a directorial tour de force, blending complex camera movement with intricate staging to present the entire story in near-real time in one location. Notably, the adaptation of the play by Patrick Hamilton was written by perennial Hitchcock actor Hume Cronyn.