A Film you cannot half-watch...,
This review is from: Rope [DVD] (DVD)
If you try and watch Hitchcock's 'Rope' half-heartedly, as I have done on a couple of occasions, it will probably seem talky, wooden, staged and despite its short sub 80 minutes, not ending soon enough.
That it doesn't seem like a usual "Hitchcock" and no familiar face shows until about a third way in, when Jimmy Stewart - and his first Hitch flick - joins in, it all seems more Agatha Christie than the exciting pace and finale set-pieces of the Master of Suspense.
However, it IS surprisingly easy to be gripped, if you allow it to. Follow the camera round, imagine it as a slow-moving armchair and the hidden genius is revealed. It's like a cat with a mouse; occasionally the cat loses its prey, but these are clever diversions from the Director.
The conversations, even more so now, often seem trite but this intentionally lets our guard slip and then something is said or an object shown that has a profound effect on the whole film. And, these are trite, privileged individuals, who just like that toying cat, play deadly games with their fellow human beings, because it's fun and (so they think) it's clever and makes them look and feel a lot better than their peers.
You could argue that, here Hitch is preparing, subconsciously, for his masterpiece, Psycho. The human psyche and its peccadilloes, a whole vast un-tapped world, at least cinematically, for the flourishing Great director to break into. It also isn't that surprising that Hitchcock didn't want to leave Rope as a filmed play, as everybody else probably would have and just had to embellish it with the now infamous semi-continuous takes.
I haven't covered plot here. It's almost immaterial and to go into it again, pointless. It's either a film you watch - and 'get', or not. It has the potential to be a great film, but only to those to get past the Agatha Christie looking...
Why 4 stars and not five? As everyone admits - and knows, it's not one of this great director's classics. It has limited appeal and whilst Alfred eeks out every ounce of watchability that he can summon, it is after all, a stagey, wooden and talky...